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 That seminary, known for its theological conservatism, was founded by a leader named John MacArthur, who recently made controversial comments criticizing popular Bible teacher Beth Moore and whether women should preach. Sarah Pulliam Bailey,, "How Kanye West put Joel Osteen’s prosperity gospel back under the spotlight," 21 Nov. 2019 At first glance their conservatism sits oddly with the quantities of effluent and profanity in their pictures. The Economist, "Grave hopping with Gilbert & George," 15 Nov. 2019 Law and Justice, which has governed Poland since 2015, is popular both for its social conservatism and generous social spending, including a program that gives families a monthly stipend of 500 zlotys ($125) for each child. Vanessa Gera, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Polish conservatives win lower house but lose Senate," 14 Oct. 2019 After long weeks of watching the show and pondering its dubious joys, only one explanation for Friends’ endurance accounts for both its cultural conservatism and its sparkling, juvenile humor. Josephine Livingstone, The New Republic, "The Mysteriously Enduring Appeal of Friends," 10 Sep. 2019 The other is a group of young Catholic intellectuals who have rather coherently linked their social conservatism to a severe critique of contemporary globalized capitalism. Mark Lilla, The New York Review of Books, "How to Write About the Right: An Exchange," 17 Jan. 2019 Voters were more concerned about cultural conservatism and felt pessimistic about the future of the country, factors that made Trump more appealing to them. Los Angeles Times, "Manufacturing is now officially in recession, despite Trump’s vow to boost industry," 9 Oct. 2019 Some see the law as evidence that hardline religious forces are influencing politics -- an issue that was a major theme during recent elections -- and of increasing Islamic conservatism and intolerance against minorities in the country. Helen Regan And Masrur Jamaluddin, CNN, "Indonesia is about to pass a law that would criminalize sex outside of marriage," 19 Sep. 2019 Bannon's potted nativist nationalism and racially tinged populism run counter to that project and to the best and highest ideals of conservatism and America itself. Anchorage Daily News, "Let’s hope Bannon never comes back from European tour," 20 Mar. 2018

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

Time Traveler

The first known use of conservatism was in 1815

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Statistics for conservatism

Last Updated

22 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Conservatism.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 25 January 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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Comments on conservatism

What made you want to look up conservatism? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


dull or mediocre

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