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 traditional hallmark of conservatism is embracing the status quo, and San Francisco seems nearly incapable of major change. Heather Knight, San Francisco Chronicle, "Is San Francisco more conservative than Moscow? Top San Francisco official says yes," 5 May 2021 Republican legislators compromised their fiscal conservatism to pass two stimulus bills. Dominique Soguel, The Christian Science Monitor, "A tale of two pandemics: Europe and US take different exits," 4 May 2021 But his embrace of Trump in his final years, and his willingness to subsume his conservatism into the cult of one man, offered a different view of Limbaugh. Isaac Chotiner, The New Yorker, "How Rush Limbaugh Invented Donald Trump," 19 Feb. 2021 From the late 1980s until the end of 2020, his exuberant conservatism dominated talk radio and helped to shape the post-Cold War Republican Party. Philip Terzian, Washington Examiner, "Rush Limbaugh, 1951-2021," 18 Feb. 2021 But baseball is a largely white sport known for its cultural conservatism. Walter Shapiro, The New Republic, "The Republicans Still Don’t Know How to Run Against Biden," 28 Aug. 2020 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

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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Last Updated

10 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Conservatism.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 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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