Example sentence: Racism was a ____ in the Elizabethan Era.

I'm looking for a word/phrase that works with "breaking". I was considering "social norms" but it doesn't really mean what I want it to convey.

Even if it doesn't work with "breaking", I'd be happy to hear your suggestions anyway!

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – tchrist Aug 23 '17 at 15:12

Perhaps not fully applicable, but zeitgeist should get a nod:

zeitgeist (noun, often capitalized) | zeit·geist \ˈtsīt-ˌgīst, ˈzīt-\

The general intellectual, moral, and cultural climate of an era


The Zeitgeist of the Elizabethan Era included an acceptance of racism.


  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zeitgeist
  2. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/zeitgeist
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  • Wish I'd seen this before submitting my speech. It's a nice word regardless. Thanks! – mik_blom Aug 22 '17 at 2:32

Perhaps "widely accepted worldview"

A comprehensive world view or worldview is the fundamental cognitive orientation of an individual or society encompassing the entirety of the individual's or society's knowledge and point of view. A world view can include natural philosophy; fundamental, existential, and normative postulates; or themes, values, emotions, and ethics.[1] The term is a calque of the German word Weltanschauung [ˈvɛlt.ʔanˌʃaʊ.ʊŋ], composed of Welt ('world') and Anschauung ('view' or 'outlook').[2] The German word is also used in English.

(From Wikipedia)

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In your example above, assuming you want to say that racism started to appear in the Elizabethan era, in itself very debatable, then 'emergent idea' would fit;

'Racism was an emergent idea in the Elizabethan era.'

Maybe you are trying to say that racism was first acknowledged as a thing in these time?

In which case 'Racism, as a concept, ....'

You might want to raise another question as to whether 'era' gets a capital 'E' in this usage ;-)

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  • Thanks for your answer, but that's not really what I wanted to say. I'm not talking about the beginning of racism; I'm just saying that it was accepted at the time – mik_blom Aug 21 '17 at 13:45
  • then 'breaking' doesn't really fit. 'became normative' perhaps? Are you trying to say it was accepted then but not before (unlikely) or just that it was unchallenged? – Chris Pink Aug 21 '17 at 13:50
  • The idea is that it's difficult to challenge - "...is easier than breaking ___" – mik_blom Aug 21 '17 at 14:01

How about norm?


norm: A principle of right action binding upon the members of a group and serving to guide, control, or regulate proper and acceptable behavior

Your example:

Racism was a norm in the Elizabethan Era.

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ascendant: "moving upward" M-W

Racism was ascendant in the Elizabethan Era.

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