“Terrorism” comes from the Latin word terrorem, meaning “great fear, dread.” The Oxford English Dictionary (1971) marks 1795 as the first time the word was used, in the phrase “reign of terrorism,” to refer to the “government by intimidation as directed and carried out by the party in power in France during the Revolution of 1789–94.” The reference is to Maximilian Robespierre, a member of the Jacobin political club that overthrew the French monarchy; Robespierre terrorized opponents who, in his view, undermined the objectives of the revolution (Mayer 2000; Žižek 2011).

This essay may be found on page 228 of the printed volume.

Works Cited
Permanent Link to this Essay