conscientious objection


: objection on moral or religious grounds (as to service in the armed forces or to bearing arms)

Examples of conscientious objection in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web So, the real question is when does someone’s conscientious objection from a shared, civic or regulatory duty adversely affect the rest of us? Clint Bolick, National Review, 3 Dec. 2023 Some psychiatrists described forms of conscientious objection—defying conscription and refusing to fight on ethical grounds—as a medical pathology. Rebecca Ayako Bennette, Foreign Affairs, 10 Apr. 2021 No matter whether a COVID mandate is added, however, exemptions are permitted for medical reasons or with a notarized statement asserting a student's conscientious objection to the vaccine(s). Michael Osterholm and J. Michael Oakes, Star Tribune, 22 June 2021 Indeed, the defiance by legions of Catholic women of Pope Paul VI’s condemnation of birth control can itself be a model of conscientious objection. James Carroll, The New Yorker, 19 Aug. 2022 In 1967, world heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali met with a group of the top black athletes in the country, who questioned him about his conscientious objection to serving in the Vietnam War. Gege Reed, The Courier-Journal, 5 Jan. 2022 As a result, many who claimed conscientious objection fled to Canada or other nations willing to accept them. Arthur L. Caplan, STAT, 25 Sep. 2021 All four universities allow for exemptions for medical reasons or a person's conscientious objection to the vaccine. Michael Osterholm and J. Michael Oakes, Star Tribune, 22 June 2021 Iran makes military service compulsory for men; conscientious objection isn't allowed. Bob Ortega, CNN, 12 Apr. 2021

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'conscientious objection.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1775, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of conscientious objection was in 1775

Dictionary Entries Near conscientious objection

Cite this Entry

“Conscientious objection.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 Jun. 2024.

Legal Definition

conscientious objection

con·​scien·​tious objection
: objection on moral or religious grounds (as to military service or bearing arms)
conscientious objector noun
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!