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 Americans boasted of their egalitarianism, but many of them were racists who regarded Mexicans too as hopelessly inferior—lowly, primitive, and backward. David S. Reynolds, The New York Review of Books, "When Slaves Fled to Mexico," 27 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, "Older people are the one group egalitarians discriminate against," 22 Apr. 2021 For those holding the purse strings, egalitarianism is the name of the game. Washington Post, "The Americanization of Europe’s beloved game reaches a tipping point," 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, "How ‘complementarianism’ – the belief that God assigned specific gender roles – became part of evangelical doctrine," 13 Apr. 2021 For the Satanic Temple and its membership, the Satan described in Paradise Lost and similar works is a revolutionary antihero who stood up against impossible odds to seek justice and egalitarianism for himself and others. Lauren Markham, Harper's Magazine, "Hell to Pray," 16 Mar. 2021 By rewarding the semi-random contributor of the arrow, the Ju/’hoansi kept their most talented hunters in check, in order to defend the group’s egalitarianism. Derek Thompson, The Atlantic, "How Civilization Broke Our Brains," 13 Dec. 2020 In its place, Propst thought, egalitarianism and creative discourse among co-workers would reign. Richard Cooke, The New Republic, "The Perpetual Disappointment of Remote Work," 4 Jan. 2021 The beauty of the Spurs’ bubble ball approach lied in its egalitarianism. Jeff Mcdonald,, "San Antonio Spurs hope for a lasting souvenir from Disney World," 6 Dec. 2020

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

Statistics for egalitarianism

Last Updated

3 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Egalitarianism.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 May. 2021.

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

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on egalitarianism

What made you want to look up egalitarianism? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


Test Your Vocabulary

Star Wars Words Quiz

  • cu jedi training
  • The bounty portion of bounty hunters (such as Boba Fett) comes from a Latin word meaning
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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