often capitalized
: a movement or system of thought advocating natural (see natural entry 1 sense 8b) religion, emphasizing morality, and in the 18th century denying the interference of the Creator with the laws of the universe
ˈdē-ist How to pronounce deism (audio)
noun often capitalized
deistic adjective
deistical adjective
deistically adverb

Did you know?

Belief in God based on reason rather than revelation or the teaching of any specific religion is known as deism. The word originated in England in the early 17th century as a rejection of orthodox Christianity. Deists asserted that reason could find evidence of God in nature and that God had created the world and then left it to operate under the natural laws devised by God. By the late 18th century, deism was the dominant religious attitude among Europe’s educated classes; it was accepted by many upper-class Americans of the same era, including the first three US presidents.

Examples of deism in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web This vague gesture in the direction of deism has no antecedent in the book, no moral or theological trajectory to make Bambi’s insight meaningful or satisfying. Kathryn Schulz, The New Yorker, 17 Jan. 2022 Those intuitions usually commended a staid deism and scorn for those whose beliefs extended any further. Jeffrey Collins, WSJ, 12 Mar. 2021 Our Founding Fathers were mostly influenced by deism. WSJ, 15 Jan. 2021 These concepts readily passed from Rousseau’s sentimental deism, to Hegel’s doctrine of world-historical progress, to Marx, and to progressivism today. John D. Hagen, National Review, 20 Aug. 2020 And yet Kelso returned to a kind of deism after the war. D.g. Hart, WSJ, 22 Aug. 2018

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'deism.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1682, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of deism was in 1682

Dictionary Entries Near deism

Cite this Entry

“Deism.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Jun. 2024.

More from Merriam-Webster on deism

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!