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 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 The museum was created with the purpose of challenging an overall spirit of conservatism that characterized the dominant museums and galleries of the time, and the art world more broadly. Anna Purna Kambhampaty, Time, "The MoMA Will Soon Reopen Following Extensive Renovations. Here's What to Expect From the Revamped Museum," 1 Oct. 2019 While a strong streak of economic conservatism still runs through finance - the Street, after all, believes in markets - the industry and its politics continue to evolve. Claire Ballentine,, "Wall Street’s new left: Millennials see a politics beyond profit," 20 Sep. 2019 The city and the rest of western Michigan was once a bastion of conservatism., "You're using a browser set to private or incognito mode.," 6 Dec. 2019 Since then, Trump has actively sought out immoral servicemembers to represent his red-meat brand of conservatism in the worst possible way. Waitman Wade Beorn, The New Republic, "The War-Crimes Presidency," 27 Nov. 2019 His take-no-prisoners style of conservatism also alienated many GOP moderates, and Democrats see his nomination as their best chance to win their first Senate race in Kansas since 1932. Washington Post, "Kansas lawmaker who left GOP running for Senate as Democrat," 16 Oct. 2019

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

8 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Conservatism.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 21 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

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good-natured easy friendliness

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