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 The party has been almost squeezed out of existence by Fujimori’s populist brand of conservatism. Washington Post, 15 July 2021 Conservation isn't just a linguistic offshoot, but at the root of conservatism. John Rash, Star Tribune, 25 June 2021 The goal here is not to develop an alternative right-wing vision of U.S. history, but simply to mock the libs using their own language: conservatism, to update Lionel Trilling, as irritable mental gestures that seek to resemble jokes. Matthew Karp, Harper's Magazine, 22 June 2021 Anti-democratic rightism, or populism, is very different from conservatism. Jay Nordlinger, National Review, 21 June 2021 The match ended in a 2-2 tie, but the battle over progressive values and Hungary's hard-line social conservatism rages on, with pressure growing on the27-nation European Union — to which both countries belong — to intervene. NBC News, 16 June 2021 Some bankers and investors attribute the turnaround to some conservatism around offerings. Corrie Driebusch, WSJ, 10 June 2021 Alito’s brand of grievance conservatism is weaponizing the free-exercise clause, propelling the Court and the country into unknown territory where voices speaking up for the interests of the secular state struggle to be heard. Linda Greenhouse, The New York Review of Books, 2 June 2021 His commentary — a mix of social conservatism, occasional Trump butt-covering and media bashing — is widely available elsewhere, and CNN wouldn’t be terribly hard-pressed to replace it. Washington Post, 24 May 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

Time Traveler

The first known use of conservatism was in 1815

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Dictionary Entries Near conservatism

conservation of momentum



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Statistics for conservatism

Last Updated

21 Jul 2021

Cite this Entry

“Conservatism.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Jul. 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

More from Merriam-Webster on conservatism

Nglish: Translation of conservatism for Spanish Speakers Encyclopedia article about conservatism


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