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 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.

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First Known Use of egalitarianism

1874, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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The first known use of egalitarianism was in 1874

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Last Updated

31 Aug 2021

Cite this Entry

“Egalitarianism.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Sep. 2021.

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