Does someone you know always shrug in a particular way or say "You know what I mean?" at the end of every sentence? Well, that's a mannerism, a habitual gesture or way of speaking.

Generally, we don't use then term mannerism as a critical term for our friends' behavior, but when applied as a term of art criticism, it can be a negative thing. If a critic talks about a writer's mannerisms, for example, it's probably intended as an insult — suggesting they're writing in a lazy or clichéd way. However, Mannerism, with a capital "M," refers to a specific 16th-century Italian style of painting known for its artificial (as opposed to naturalistic) effects.

Definitions of mannerism

n a behavioral attribute that is distinctive and peculiar to an individual

foible, idiosyncrasy
Type of:
distinctiveness, peculiarity, speciality, specialness, specialty
a distinguishing trait

n a deliberate pretense or exaggerated display

affectation, affectedness, pose
a theatrical pose created for effect
radical chic
an affectation of radical left-wing views and the fashionable dress and lifestyle that goes with them
Type of:
feigning, pretence, pretending, pretense, simulation
the act of giving a false appearance

Sign up, it's free!

Whether you're a student, an educator, or a lifelong learner, can put you on the path to systematic vocabulary improvement.