con·​ser·​va·​tism | \ kən-ˈsər-və-ˌti-zəm How to pronounce conservatism (audio) \

Definition of conservatism

1 capitalized
a : the principles and policies of a Conservative party
b : the Conservative party
2a : disposition in politics to preserve what is established
b : a political philosophy based on tradition and social stability, stressing established institutions, and preferring gradual development to abrupt change specifically : such a philosophy calling for lower taxes, limited government regulation of business and investing, a strong national defense, and individual financial responsibility for personal needs (such as retirement income or health-care coverage)
3 : the tendency to prefer an existing or traditional situation to change religious conservatism cultural conservatism

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Examples of conservatism in a Sentence

the state's well-known conservatism means that progressive legislation always has an uphill battle
Recent Examples on the Web Coaston’s coverage of conservatism won her respect on the right. Washington Post, "D.C.’s rising libertarian star, with her ‘healthy skepticism of state power,’ secures an influential podcast," 12 Apr. 2021 The emphasis was on ideas: explaining them, showing how they can be translated into effective policy, and using them to combat the caricatures of conservatism that prevail in the press. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "Thank You, Kay Coles James," 22 Mar. 2021 Some see their mission as defending today’s iteration of the Republican Party, or perhaps their own personal kind of conservatism. Isaac Schorr, National Review, "A Game Plan for Campus Conservatives," 17 Mar. 2021 But the monarchy cannot afford to become standard-bearers for the forces of conservatism, especially as the U.K’s culture war intensifies. Dan Stewart, Time, "Meghan and Harry’s Interview Won’t End the Monarchy. But a Reckoning Is Coming," 9 Mar. 2021 This is why Trumpism is not a reversion to an older, more gothic form of conservatism, but an apotheosis decades in the making. Rick Perlstein, The New Republic, "The John Birch Society Never Left," 8 Mar. 2021 The case spotlighted Cincinnati as a bastion of conservatism and Mr. Flynt as a dubious champion of free speech. New York Times, "Larry Flynt, Who Built a Porn Empire With Hustler, Dies at 78," 10 Feb. 2021 Russell Kirk, who contributed so much to the Burkean revival in post-war American conservatism, thought similarly. Alexander William Salter, National Review, "Is Economics a Liberal Art?," 31 Mar. 2021 In addition to schooling the members of his audience in ways to support conservatism, the late talk show host Rush Limbaugh reduced their susceptibility to arguments incompatible with that philosophy. Kathleen Hall Jamieson, Scientific American, "How to Debunk Misinformation about COVID, Vaccines and Masks," 18 Mar. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'conservatism.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of conservatism

1815, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for conservatism

see conserve entry 1

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Time Traveler for conservatism

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The first known use of conservatism was in 1815

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Statistics for conservatism

Last Updated

16 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Conservatism.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Apr. 2021.

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English Language Learners Definition of conservatism

: belief in the value of established and traditional practices in politics and society
: dislike of change or new ideas in a particular area

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