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 doctrinaire (audio) \ noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for doctrinaire

Synonyms: Adjective

Antonyms: Adjective

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Choose the Right Synonym for 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

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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., 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, 25 Jan. 2020 Finally, doctrinaire Republicans for decades mouthed orthodoxies of free rather than fair trade. Victor Davis Hanson, National Review, 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, 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, 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,, 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, 10 Sep. 2019 Conservatism, traditionally, has not been doctrinaire. Jay Nordlinger, National Review, 22 July 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun This is what Clem, returning to his family at the novel’s end, attempts to do: to think through problems, without being obsessive or doctrinaire. Maggie Doherty, The New Republic, 8 Oct. 2021 Restoring competition to the tech marketplace should appeal to all but the most doctrinaire libertarians and of course the oligarchs themselves. Andrew Stuttaford, National Review, 3 Oct. 2021 After the war’s end, Bouteflika became foreign minister at just 25, at a time when Algeria was a model of doctrinaire socialism tethered to the Soviet Union. NBC News, 18 Sep. 2021 French female filmmakers differ from their American counterparts, seeming less defensive, less doctrinaire, and not at all misandrist. Armond White, National Review, 27 Aug. 2021 Such doctrinaire assumptions would exclude three quarters of world literature. Wisława Szymborska, The New York Review of Books, 3 Aug. 2021 The pope's rollback immediately created an uproar among traditionalists already opposed to Francis' more progressive bent and still nostalgic for Benedict's doctrinaire papacy. Nicole Winfield, Star Tribune, 16 July 2021 The pope's rollback immediately created an uproar among traditionalists already opposed to Francis’ more progressive bent and nostalgic for Benedict’s doctrinaire papacy. Fox News, 16 July 2021 Her philosophy is less doctrinaire and more emotionally nuanced. Marisa Meltzer, WSJ, 15 June 2021

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 26 Oct. 2021.

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More Definitions for doctrinaire



English Language Learners Definition of doctrinaire

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

More from Merriam-Webster on doctrinaire

Nglish: Translation of doctrinaire for Spanish Speakers


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