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

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 By the 1990s, identitarian loathing had become conservatism’s main point. Timothy Noah, The New Republic, 13 May 2022 Stigma and conservatism exist outside Asian groups, too, Desai said, but people who can’t get access to English-language services might have nowhere else to turn. Sakshi Venkatraman, NBC News, 11 May 2022 Rising up against deforestation and colonial threats from the Ecuadorian government, the community of just 1,500 people has emerged as leaders in the fight for human rights and nature conservatism — and Gualinga is one of its youngest defenders. Gabriela Barzallo,, 24 Apr. 2022 The Society provided the intellectual firepower for the resurgence of classical liberalism and free-market/limited-government conservatism. Charles N. Steele, National Review, 9 Apr. 2022 Rafferty said the bill was outside the spirit of small government and conservatism that Republicans espouse. Mike Cason |, al, 7 Apr. 2022 Romney's corporate conservatism and rich man's ethos were fair game for the Obama campaign in rough and tumble politics a decade ago. Stephen Collinson, CNN, 6 Apr. 2022 The Christian right has been intertwined with American conservatism for decades, culminating in the Trump era. New York Times, 6 Apr. 2022 And all break from longstanding libertarian tendencies of American conservatism to favor the use of federal power in advancing the right side of the culture war. Damon Linker, The Week, 23 Mar. 2022 See More

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.

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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The first known use of conservatism was in 1815

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Dictionary Entries Near conservatism

conservation of momentum



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Last Updated

22 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Conservatism.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 May. 2022.

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