con·​sti·​tu·​tion·​al·​ism | \ ˌkän(t)-stə-ˈtü-sh(ə-)nə-ˌli-zəm How to pronounce constitutionalism (audio) , -tyü- \

Definition of constitutionalism

: adherence to or government according to constitutional principles also : a constitutional system of government

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Other Words from constitutionalism

constitutionalist \ ˌkän(t)-​stə-​ˈtü-​sh(ə-​)nə-​list How to pronounce constitutionalism (audio) , -​tyü-​ \ noun

Examples of constitutionalism in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The antislavery constitutionalism that Lincoln embraced and helped develop would become the cornerstone for the politics of the Republican Party and in time would ignite southern secession. Sean Wilentz, The New York Review of Books, "Lincoln’s Rowdy America," 13 Apr. 2021 However, the contest between proponents of originalism and common-good constitutionalism actually signals how rapidly and completely liberals have lost their grip on—and indeed barely comprehend—the national conversation. Peter Hammond Schwartz, The New Republic, "Originalism Is Dead. Long Live Catholic Natural Law.," 3 Feb. 2021 The pandemic has pitted establishment Republicans, who defer to public-health officials’ expertise, against hard-right libertarians who prize austere constitutionalism. Michael Ames, The New Yorker, "How Ammon Bundy Helped Foment an Anti-Masker Rebellion in Idaho," 21 Dec. 2020 The boundaries between these different conceptions of constitutionalism are not always perfectly clear, of course. Yuval Levin, National Review, "What Is Our Constitution?," 17 Sep. 2020 Rival theories such as purposivism, pragmatism, and living-constitutionalism empower judges to ignore and override legal texts in order to impose their own solutions to the problems of the age. Ed Whelan, National Review, "Justice Barrett Would Extend Scalia’s Legacy," 1 Oct. 2020 American constitutionalism requires a distinctly republican virtue, and cannot do without it. Yuval Levin, National Review, "What Is Our Constitution?," 17 Sep. 2020 The initiative shows commitment to constitutionalism and respect for property rights and restoring the rule of law. Misheck Mutize, Quartz Africa, "The problem with Zimbabwe using a $3.5 billion sovereign bond to compensate white farmers," 5 Aug. 2020 On the other hand, the usual liberal position – living constitutionalism – is clear. Morgan Marietta, The Conversation, "Supreme Court reforms, strengthens Electoral College," 6 July 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'constitutionalism.' 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 constitutionalism

1832, in the meaning defined above

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The first known use of constitutionalism was in 1832

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Last Updated

25 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Constitutionalism.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for constitutionalism



English Language Learners Definition of constitutionalism

: the belief that a government should be based on a constitution

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