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

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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

Even as economic reformers on the left value employee ownership’s spread-the-wealth egalitarianism, conservatives like making more people into capitalists. John Case, The New Republic, "An Economy in Waiting," 8 July 2019 In the process of cataloguing the Agta’s tales, Migliano realized that many of them encouraged friendship, cooperation, and egalitarianism. Ferris Jabr, Harper's magazine, "The Story of Storytelling," 10 Mar. 2019 There’s a tension with Studio 54 between elitism and egalitarianism. Julia Felsenthal, Vogue, "Matt Tyrnauer’s New Documentary, Studio 54, Takes On the Rise, Fall, and Last Days of Disco," 4 Oct. 2018 Both Nasser and Jawaharlal Nehru were anti-imperialist, but Nehru pursued egalitarianism with democracy, while Nasser imposed a military regime. Mitchell Cohen, New York Times, "Did the Crusade for Human Rights Lead to More Inequality?," 18 May 2018 The Aquarius moon is fueled by egalitarianism, so these individuals often emote based on their values rather than their sensitivities. Aliza Kelly Faragher, Allure, "What Your Moon Sign Reveals About Your Emotional Personality," 23 Apr. 2018 Once, the United States claimed egalitarianism as a central ideal. Heather Souvaine Horn, The New Republic, "Donald Trump, Meghan Markle, and America’s enduring obsession with the British royals," 12 July 2018 There is an intellectual dark web, in the sense that conservatives have constructed alternative institutions and economic theories and thought leaders to fight egalitarianism. Sarah Jones, The New Republic, "Grifters All the Way Down," 31 May 2018 Time was when sneers and jeers would greet such oenological egalitarianism. Tim Smith,, "Pairings Bistro in Bel Air delivers imaginative food and wine," 21 May 2018

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.

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First Known Use of egalitarianism

1874, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Last Updated

14 Jul 2019

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The first known use of egalitarianism was in 1874

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characterized by aphorism

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