con·​ser·​va·​tism kən-ˈsər-və-ˌti-zəm How to pronounce conservatism (audio)
: the principles and policies of a Conservative party
: the Conservative party
: disposition in politics to preserve what is established
: 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)
: the tendency to prefer an existing or traditional situation to change
religious conservatism
cultural conservatism

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 And in Utah, a GOP Senate primary is shaping up to be a referendum on how Republicans in the state view former President Donald Trump’s fiery brand of conservatism. Karissa Waddick, USA TODAY, 25 June 2024 Adam Smith, Revolutionary? By 1800, Smith—once considered a friend of the poor and an enemy of the privileges of the rich—was already being refashioned into a icon of conservatism. JSTOR Daily, 24 June 2024 Between Lee Edwards and George Nash, the record of post-war conservatism has been comprehensively inscribed. Neal B. Freeman, National Review, 21 June 2024 Since 2010, the Tories presented themselves under David Cameron as the party of traditional fiscal conservatism (which meant austerity), then pivoted to Trump-style populism under Boris Johnson, and then Thatcherite free market ideology under Liz Truss. Fareed Zakaria, Washington Post, 21 June 2024 See all Example Sentences for conservatism 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'conservatism.' 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

1815, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of conservatism was in 1815

Dictionary Entries Near conservatism

Cite this Entry

“Conservatism.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 12 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition


con·​ser·​va·​tism kən-ˈsər-və-ˌtiz-əm How to pronounce conservatism (audio)
: a political belief supporting established institutions and customs and preferring gradual development to sudden change
: a desire to preserve an existing situation or existing ways

More from Merriam-Webster on conservatism

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