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 Today, though, that egalitarianism is often an illusion. Megan Garber, The Atlantic, "After the Handshake," 11 May 2020 Cohen disdains it as self-congratulatory cant, describing the Warren Court’s egalitarianism as an exception rather than the rule. Michael O’donnell, The Atlantic, "The Supreme Court’s Enduring Bias," 29 Mar. 2020 Integralists reject liberalism as a political philosophy, preferring hierarchy over egalitarianism and autocracy to individual rights. Matt Ford, The New Republic, "The Emerging Right-Wing Vision of Constitutional Authoritarianism," 2 Apr. 2020 This sort of artisanal egalitarianism is comparatively easy to arrange. Joshua Rothman, The New Yorker, "The Equality Conundrum," 6 Jan. 2020 Yet there are scars left behind by Mr. Macron’s relentless reformism, in a country which, if not content, had achieved an egalitarianism solid enough to shield it from the crude populism and demagogy that has overtaken its Western allies. Adam Nossiter, New York Times, "As Emmanuel Macron’s Impact Grows, So Does French Disdain," 25 Feb. 2020 In other words, the most radical goal of the movement is egalitarianism. Gloria Steinem, Time, "50 Years Ago, Gloria Steinem Wrote an Essay For TIME About Her Hopes For Women’s Futures. Here’s What She'd Add Today," 5 Mar. 2020 As Americans, we are charged with recognizing two conflicting values: individualism and egalitarianism. Joshua Rothman, The New Yorker, "The Equality Conundrum," 6 Jan. 2020 While trafficking in rhetoric of unity and egalitarianism, Gantz is careful not to come off as too dovish. Washington Post, "Netanyahu and Gantz face off in repeat Israeli elections," 18 Sep. 2019

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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Time Traveler for egalitarianism

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The first known use of egalitarianism was in 1874

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Statistics for egalitarianism

Last Updated

1 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Egalitarianism.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Jun. 2020.

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