adjective doc·tri·naire \ ˌdäk-trə-ˈner \
|Updated on: 15 Jul 2018

Definition of doctrinaire

: stubbornly or excessively devoted to a doctrine or theory without regard to practical considerations
  • … tended to stress uncritical, doctrinaire acceptance of the interpretations of law …
  • —Ross E. Dunn
  • … the doctrinaire evolutionary psychologists who choose ideology over knowledge.
  • —Jerry A. Coyne


play \ˌdäk-trə-ˈner-ˌi-zəm\ noun

doctrinaire was our Word of the Day on 10/15/2014. Hear the podcast!

Examples of doctrinaire in a Sentence

  1. a doctrinaire conservative, the columnist takes special delight in baiting liberals

Recent Examples of doctrinaire from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'doctrinaire.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of doctrinaire


in the meaning defined above

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Synonym Discussion of doctrinaire

dictatorial, magisterial, dogmatic, doctrinaire, oracular mean imposing one's will or opinions on others. dictatorial stresses autocratic, high-handed methods and a domineering manner.
    • exercised dictatorial control over the office
magisterial stresses assumption or use of prerogatives appropriate to a magistrate or schoolmaster in forcing acceptance of one's opinions.
    • the magisterial tone of his pronouncements
dogmatic implies being unduly and offensively positive in laying down principles and expressing opinions.
    • dogmatic about what is art and what is not
doctrinaire implies a disposition to follow abstract theories in framing laws or policies affecting people.
    • a doctrinaire approach to improving the economy
oracular implies the manner of one who delivers opinions in cryptic phrases or with pompous dogmatism.
    • a designer who is the oracular voice of fashion




Definition of doctrinaire

: one who attempts to put into effect an abstract doctrine or theory with little or no regard for practical difficulties

Did You Know?

Doctrinaire didn't start out as a critical word. In post-revolutionary France, a group who favored constitutional monarchy called themselves Doctrinaires. Doctrine in French, as in English, is a word for the principles on which a government is based; it is ultimately from Latin doctrina, meaning "teaching" or "instruction." But both ultraroyalists and revolutionists strongly derided any doctrine of reconciling royalty and representation as utterly impracticable, and they resented the Doctrinaires' influence over Louis XVIII. So when doctrinaire became an adjective, "there adhered to it some indescribable tincture of unpopularity which was totally indelible" (Blanc's History of Ten Years 1830-40, translated by Walter K. Kelly in 1848).

Origin and Etymology of doctrinaire

French, from doctrine

DOCTRINAIRE Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of doctrinaire for English Language Learners

  • —used to describe a person who has very strong beliefs about what should be done and will not change them or accept other people's opinions

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a simultaneous discharge of guns

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