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 Greenwich Village — areas of great momentum where centuries of conservatism were being provoked by a counterculture revolution. Zoe Wilder, Rolling Stone, "Does 4/20 Still Matter?," 19 Apr. 2021 One of the things that your piece captures really well is the way that Orange County’s particular kind of conservatism — which has been consigned to the margins of California politics for decades — morphed into something different in the Trump era. Matthew Rosenberg, New York Times, "What Kristine Hostetter’s Story Says About Orange County," 13 Apr. 2021 Before the Republican Party’s sharp turn to first the tea party movement and now Trump-brand conservatism, Bush — the grandson of former President George H.W. Bush and the nephew of former President George W. Bush — was destined for stardom. James Barragán, Dallas News, "Can George P. Bush beat Ken Paxton for Texas AG in the Donald Trump-loving GOP?," 12 Apr. 2021 Culture is tension, a never-ending push and pull between forces of change and the forbidding rubber-band snap of stasis, familiarity, and conservatism. Craig Jenkins, Vulture, "SOPHIE Transcended Everything," 1 Feb. 2021 For the recent 65th anniversary of the magazine, NR’s editors invited distinguished scholars and writers, young and old alike, to discuss the classics of classical liberalism and conservatism. Daniel J. Mahoney, National Review, "Don’t Lose Sight of Culture," 28 Dec. 2020 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

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

28 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Conservatism.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for conservatism



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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