egalitarianism

noun
egal·​i·​tar·​i·​an·​ism | \ i-ˌga-lə-ˈter-ē-ə-ˌni-zəm How to pronounce egalitarianism (audio) \

Definition of egalitarianism

1 : a belief in human equality especially with respect to social, political, and economic affairs
2 : a social philosophy advocating the removal of inequalities among people

Keep scrolling for more

The Roots of Egalitarianism

Egalitarianism comes to the English language from the French. We fashioned egalitarian from their égalitaire “egalitarian” (which comes from the Latin aequalitas “equality”), and then added our -ism to it. The word first appeared in English in the late 19th century; our current earliest citation is from 1874, in The Times of India: “Before the Revolution the officers of one regiment welcomed brother corps with champagne suppers, but egalitarianism has brought us down to punch at five francs the bowl. . . ." The word has seen a subtle shift in meaning. Its earliest use was typically in reference to a belief in human equality; it has since taken on the sense “a social philosophy that advocates the removal of inequality among people.”

Examples of egalitarianism in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Inspired by the Revolution’s egalitarianism, antislavery advocates overcame powerful opposition and enacted the first emancipations of their kind in history, in seven of the thirteen original states. Sean Wilentz, The New York Review of Books, 1 July 2021 His discomfort with the process — and decades spent listening to calves cry out for their mothers — ultimately led Mr. Gerdes to quit the dairy business and adopt a policy of total egalitarianism for all the species calling the farm home. Melissa Eddy, New York Times, 10 July 2021 The paper identifies a surprising link between ageism and egalitarianism. Sarah Todd, Quartz, 22 Apr. 2021 Martin also sees a possible link between egalitarianism and ageism in the fact that older Americans are often assumed to be more conservative. Sarah Todd, Quartz, 22 Apr. 2021 For those holding the purse strings, egalitarianism is the name of the game. Washington Post, 19 Apr. 2021 Many Christians, including evangelicals, came to embrace egalitarianism and to champion women’s equality in the home, church and society. Susan M. Shaw, The Conversation, 13 Apr. 2021

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

See More

First Known Use of egalitarianism

1874, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More About egalitarianism

Time Traveler for egalitarianism

Time Traveler

The first known use of egalitarianism was in 1874

See more words from the same year

Dictionary Entries Near egalitarianism

egalitarian

egalitarianism

égalité

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for egalitarianism

Last Updated

31 Aug 2021

Cite this Entry

“Egalitarianism.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/egalitarianism. Accessed 20 Sep. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

Farm Idioms Quiz

  • cow coming home
  • What does 'poke' refer to in the expression 'pig in a poke'?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

TAKE THE QUIZ
 AlphaBear 2

Spell words. Make bears.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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