con·​ser·​va·​tism | \ kən-ˈsər-və-ˌti-zəm \

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

At its best, conservatism is about doubt and deliberation, not dreams. The Economist, "The Conservative Party has trashed the basic principles of conservatism," 12 July 2018 Is modern Christian conservatism the product of Graham’s politicking or a repudiation of his values? Daniel K. Williams, Newsweek, "Did Billy Graham Bring About the Evangelical Christian Right?," 23 Feb. 2018 But his mainstream brand of conservatism appealed to voters in the Columbus and Cincinnati suburbs far more than Mr. Cordray’s liberal populism. Allysia Finley, WSJ, "A Big Night for Democrats, but Not Progressives," 7 Nov. 2018 Although the court was already a conservative body before Brett Kavanaugh came on the scene, its conservatism was somewhat tempered by Justice Anthony Kennedy. Mackenzie Long, Teen Vogue, "What Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh Could Mean for Women, Gun Control, and More," 8 Oct. 2018 One civilian who deserves credit for Coronado’s fiscal conservatism is Peggy Schmidt, a former mayor who held public office for 16 years. Gustavo Solis,, "Coronado's got a year's worth of cash on hand - and then some," 16 June 2018 Michael Steel, a former senior aide to Boehner who worked for Ryan on the 2012 Romney campaign, told Michael Scherer. -- Stop mistaking Trumpism for conservatism. James Hohmann, Washington Post, "The Daily 202: Paul Ryan’s party is over," 12 Apr. 2018 The economy is not currently in need of stimulus, but the Republicans’ instinct for fiscal conservatism is. — Get insight from the best conservative writers delivered to your inbox; sign up for National Review Online’s newsletters today. The Editors, National Review, "Fiscal Do’s and Don’ts," 12 Feb. 2018 Some locals were appalled; this is Orange County, after all, historically a bastion of Southern California conservatism, and with his long hair and wild beard, and always dressed in a red shirt and sandals, Larsen cut a provocative figure. Sean Elder, Town & Country, "The War of The Grosses: Inside the Bitter Divorce Battle of the Laguna Beach "Bond King"," 22 Oct. 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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Last Updated

24 Dec 2018

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Time Traveler for conservatism

The first known use of conservatism was in 1815

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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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