doc·​tri·​naire | \ ˌdäk-trə-ˈner How to pronounce doctrinaire (audio) \

Definition of doctrinaire

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: 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



Definition of doctrinaire (Entry 2 of 2)

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

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Other Words from doctrinaire


doctrinairism \ ˌdäk-​trə-​ˈner-​ˌi-​zəm How to pronounce doctrinairism (audio) \ noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for doctrinaire

Synonyms: Adjective

Antonyms: Adjective

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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

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).

Examples of doctrinaire in a Sentence

Adjective a doctrinaire conservative, the columnist takes special delight in baiting liberals
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Opposition is mounting among conservative Catholics who disapprove of his emphasis on the environment, migrants, and other issues rather than the doctrinaire focus of his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI., "Pope urges compassion in elevating 13 like-minded cardinals - The Boston Globe," 6 Oct. 2019 Founded in 1943, the IPTA pioneered a form of street theater that combined elements of folk music and drama with a revolutionary message (imagine a lively, non-doctrinaire variant of Mao’s propaganda outfits). Ratik Asokan, The New York Review of Books, "A New Look At Ritwik Ghatak’s Bengal," 25 Jan. 2020 Finally, doctrinaire Republicans for decades mouthed orthodoxies of free rather than fair trade. Victor Davis Hanson, National Review, "History Has Shown That Socialism Isn’t the Cure," 7 Nov. 2019 Opposition is mounting among conservative Catholics who disapprove of his emphasis on the environment, migrants and other issues rather than the doctrinaire focus of his predecessor Pope Benedict XVI. Nicole Winfield, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Pope urges compassion in elevating 13 likeminded cardinals," 6 Oct. 2019 The best-case scenario is another Mike Pompeo, a doctrinaire crusading conservative with a light resume and a very brown nose who has quietly expanded his State department portfolio beyond its normal scope. Adam Weinstein, The New Republic, "Firing John Bolton Doesn’t Make You a Pacifist," 10 Sep. 2019 Speaking of then and now, that party almost immediately split into warring factions, with a compromise-averse, more doctrinaire left wing challenged by more pragmatic moderates. Phil Primack,, "Guess which Massachusetts town elected the nation’s first socialist mayor," 14 June 2019 Just as Johnson has alienated some Conservative moderates, Corbyn has lost the backing of some longtime Labour figures who are turned off by his doctrinaire approach. Washington Post, "Boris Johnson lost Parliament but he could win a UK election," 10 Sep. 2019 Conservatism, traditionally, has not been doctrinaire. Jay Nordlinger, National Review, "May I See Your ID?," 22 July 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun In his commentaries, Dr. Nunberg touched on proper grammar and pronunciation, but his approach to language was more observant than doctrinaire. Matt Schudel, Washington Post, "Geoffrey Nunberg, who explored how language shapes politics and insults, dies at 75," 14 Aug. 2020 Surely even the most doctrinaire musicologist would say just to aim in the general vicinity of the metronome markings. Scott Cantrell, Dallas News, "Musicians with D-FW connections record Beethoven symphonies, chamber works with clarinet," 24 July 2020 Biden’s economic record is that of an internationalist—not a doctrinaire free-trader, but a free-trader nonetheless. Timothy Noah, The New Republic, "The Two Sides of Biden’s Economic Plan," 10 July 2020

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.

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First Known Use of doctrinaire


1834, in the meaning defined above


1831, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for doctrinaire


French, from doctrine

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The first known use of doctrinaire was in 1831

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Cite this Entry

“Doctrinaire.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Oct. 2020.

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More Definitions for doctrinaire


How to pronounce doctrinaire (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of doctrinaire

formal + disapproving 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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