Many of the concepts you’ll come across in Stoicism are simple to understand, and don’t require any kind of formal education or list of definitions to get the gist of. For the most part, modern translations of writings from famous Stoic philosophers (like The Urban Enchiridion) use words and terminology that are easy for modern readers to comprehend.

Guide to Stoicism

If you’re interested in diving a bit deeper into the principles of Stoicism, though, it can help to have a broader understanding of a few terms that you’ll frequently come across in Stoicism books and lessons.

Stoic words

Some references to ancient Greek and Roman words — or philosophical concepts that aren’t commonly taught to new students — might be a bit confusing to someone who’s just starting to learn about Stoicism.

Glossary of Stoic Terms

This guide to Stoic terms is meant to eventually be an all-encompassing glossary of every potentially confusing reference — including descriptions of words, people, places and concepts — that modern students of Stoicism might come across.

Stoic Words and How to Pronounce Them

For those of you who wonder how, exactly, you should pronounce these words, we’re also going to add audio to each word that will let you listen to someone saying them out loud. (One word of warning, though: these are the Americanized pronunciations of Greek words, so keep that in mind when you hear them.)

Principles of Stoicism

Oh, and one more thing: don’t be intimidated by the length of this list of definitions. Even if you don’t understand all of them, they really aren’t necessary learning for anyone who wants to practice Stoic thinking for themselves. These definitions are nice to know, but you don’t need to memorize them to get into Stoicism.

We’ll continue updating and expanding this guide over time, and we hope it helps you more easily to successfully apply the concepts of Stoicism to your life!

Stoicism Concepts

A Glossary of Stoic Words & Philosophical Concepts

Adiaphora (ἀδιάφορα)

Stuff that is indifferent, and not good or bad. In Stoicism, this applies to everything outside of our own choices.

Agathos (ἀγαθός)

An object of desire that is proper for someone to desire.

Amor Fati

Literally “to love your fate.” In Stoicism, it’s taught that we should learn to love everything that happens to us, because it all plays a part in the universe’s plan.

Anthrôpos (ἄνθρωπος)

A term that means “people” or “human beings,” as an individual or group.

Apatheia (ἀπάθεια)

The peaceful mind that one can achieve from being calm and without passions.

Aphormê (ἀφορμή)

The desire to avoid action or to not act.

Apotynchanô (ἀποτυγχάνω)

To miss your purpose, or to fail to achieve what you were aiming for.

Aproêgmena (ἀπροηγμένα)

Things that we don’t prefer to experience or have, but that we are still indifferent to, and that have no value of good or bad.

Aretê (ἀρετή)

The quality of human excellence or goodness.

Askêsis (ἄσκησις)

A kind of focused training that one does to become a virtuous person.

Ataraxia (ἀταραξία)

The tranquility that comes from not being upset or disturbed by things external to you.

Axia (ἀξία)

The real worth or value of things in our lives.

Daimôn (δαίμων)

The genius present in individual human beings; or, a kind of divine spirit found within.

Diairesis (διαίρεσις)

Dividing things into separate parts to analyze them. In Stoicism, this term is used when referring to what we can and cannot choose.

Dianoia (διανοία)

Human intelligence or thought.

Dikaiosunê (δικαιοσύνη)

An act or way of life that promotes righteousness and justice.

Dogma (δόγμα)

A person’s principles or reasoned judgments that come from their past experiences in the world.

Dokimazein (δοκιμάζω)

To examine something in close detail and put it to a test.

Doxa (δόξα)

Someone’s beliefs or opinions on something.

Ekklisis (ἔκκλισις)

Having a natural aversion to something, or being inclined to not want it or get away from it.

Ekpyrôsis (ἐκπύρωσις)

The concept that our universe is born and reborn in a constant, never-ending cycle.

Eleutheria (ἐλευθερία)

Liberty and freedom of mankind.

Eph’ hêmin (ἐφ’ ἡμῖν)

The things that are in our total control and that are truly up to us.

Epistêmê (ἐπιστήμη)

Knowledge that is true and certain.

Ethos (ἔθος)

A human being’s habits or things we are accustomed to doing.

Eudaimonia (εὐδαιμονία)

The ultimate happiness or well-being that a human can experience.

Eupatheia (εὐπάθεια)

Emotions that exist because of acting virtuously and using the correct judgments.

Hamartanô (ἁμαρτάνω)

To miss your goal, to fail in what you aimed for, or to do wrong.

Hêgemonikon (ἡγεμονικόν)

A person’s guiding principles and the internal reason that rules over their actions.

Heimarmenê (εἱμαρμένη)

Our destiny, or the fate that the universe has set for us.

Hexis (ἕξις)

Having a disposition for something, or having a certain habit or frame of mind.

Hormê (ὁρμή)

Action taken because of a positive impulse that we have toward an object.

Hulê (ὕλη)

The raw material, or the matter that composes or makes up something.

Hypolêpsis (ὑπόληψις)

Taking up a notion or an opinion about something; having an understanding of a concept.

Kalos (καλός)

Beauty, in terms of someone’s inner virtue or morality.

Katalêpsis (κατάληψις)

The sort of determined conviction or clear comprehension you need to act virtuously.

Kathêkon (καθῆκον)

The correct actions that one takes — or the duty they perform — on the way to being virtuous.

Koinos (κοινός)

Something that is shared in common with another concept or entity.

Kosmos (κόσμος)

The entire universe; the whole world and everything in it.

Logos/ Logikos (λόγος/ λογικός)

Rationality or reason as it exists in nature or the universe.

Memento Mori

“Remember you must die.” or “Remember your mortality.”

Nomos (νόμος)

A human custom, law or societal expectation.

Oiêsis (οἴησις)

Deceiving yourself with an arrogant or conceited opinion.

Oikeiôsis (οἰκείωσις)

Concerning an individual, the appropriation of self-ownership.

Orexis (ὄρεξις)

Having an inclination for something, or a desire for a thing.

Ousia (οὐσία)

A person’s inner substance, the stuff that makes up their being.

Paideia (παιδεία)

Education, teaching or training for something.

Pathos (πάθος)

The type of emotion often caused by mistaken judgments

Phantasia (φαντασία)

An impression or perception of something external.

Phronêsis (φρόνησις)

A type of wisdom that is practical and applicable to our lives in helpful ways.

Physis (φύσις)

The natural order of stuff; nature.

Pneuma (πνεῦμα)

In Stoicism, a part of the soul that can be disturbed by desires and aversions.

Premedatatio Malorum

Thinking ahead to things that might go wrong in our lives, so that we are better prepared to handle them.

Proêgmena (προηγμένα)

Preferred indifferents such as good health.

Prohairesis (προαίρεσις)

A human’s ability to choose and freedom to make choices in life.

Prokopê (προκοπή)

Moving along the path toward wisdom and virtue.

Prolêpsis (πρόληψις)

The ability to form conceptions (or preconceptions) that is possessed by human beings.

Pronoia (πρόνοια)

A type of foresight or foreknowledge of things.

Prosochê (προσοχή)

To be diligent, pay attention and approach life with sober reflection.

Psychê (ψυχή)

A human’s life or state of mind.

Sophos (σοφός)

The ideal concept of a Stoic who has reached a level to be called a Sage.

Summum Bonum

The ultimate good or highest goal.

Sympatheia (συμπάθεια)

Organic parts as they relate to the whole; sympathy.

Synkatathesis (συγκατάθεσις)

Giving our assent to judgments and impressions (usually before taking action).

Technê (τέχνη)

A profession or a vocation that involves skill, art or craft.

Telos (τέλος)

The final goal of a human’s life, or the objective they are striving to reach.

Theôrêma (θεώρημα)

Our general perceptions or principles of the truth.

Theos (θεός)

The power that created and gave order to the universe.

Tonos (τόνος)

A concept of repulsion and attraction; tension that leads to vice and virtue in human beings.