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 Gaetz has also tried to argue for a populist, nationalist conservatism in greater detail than Trump. W. James Antle Iii, Washington Examiner, "Matt Gaetz is Trump's main man on cable news and on the floor of the House," 19 Oct. 2020 What American conservatism seeks to preserve is the institutional and philosophical inheritance of the American founding. Matthew Continetti, National Review, "The Scalia Family," 17 Oct. 2020 Cultural conservatism doesn’t appear to be the wave of the future. William A. Galston, WSJ, "Trump’s ‘Cross of Gold’ Moment," 13 Oct. 2020 Margaret Thatcher was elected as Prime Minister in 1979, ushering in a wave of economic conservatism. Elise Taylor, Vogue, "Everything We Know About The Crown Season 4," 13 Oct. 2020 Although county supervisors are technically nonpartisan, the board has been controlled by a Republican majority that prided itself on fiscal conservatism for decades. Charles T. Clark, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Gaspar, Lawson-Remer offer differing visions for San Diego County in race to determine balance of the board," 11 Oct. 2020 At a moment when American conservatism is flirting with ideas that have been outside the realm of mainstream politics for 50 years, ambiguous irony has allowed both political comedians and pundits to say what cannot be said. Dan Brooks, New York Times, "How President Trump Ruined Political Comedy," 7 Oct. 2020 His surprise departure, rather than staying on for a lifetime appointment, was seen by many as evidence of his frustration with the institution’s increasing conservatism. Erin Blakemore, National Geographic, "How Thurgood Marshall became the first Black U.S. Supreme Court justice," 2 Oct. 2020 The future of the Republican Party must be rooted in a principled, next-generation conservatism. CNN, "Opinion: The Republican Party has a tough choice to make," 21 Aug. 2020

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

24 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Conservatism.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Oct. 2020.

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How to pronounce conservatism (audio)

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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