elit·​ism | \ ā-ˈlē-ˌti-zəm, i-, ē- \

Definition of elitism

1 : leadership or rule by an elite
2 : the selectivity of the elite especially : snobbery elitism in choosing new members
3 : consciousness of being or belonging to an elite

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from elitism

elitist \ ā-​ˈlē-​tist , i-​, ē-​ \ noun or adjective

Examples of elitism in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Chris Hahn, Chris Matthews made some interesting comments about creeping elitism in your party. Fox News, "Former Miss America on pageant dropping swimsuit competition," 6 June 2018 The implied accusations of elitism are strange and somewhat depressing, because the novel is not at all difficult to read or understand. Sam Sacks, WSJ, "Fiction: A Critical Mass of Absurdist Misapprehensions," 30 Nov. 2018 These lessons are conduits of power, facilitating ways of knowing and doing that preserve and protect a culture of hyper-masculinity, elitism, and entitlement. Adam Howard, Vox, "I’ve spent decades studying elite schools. Here’s how their culture enables toxic masculinity.," 27 Sep. 2018 That's exactly why the story is important, because Alan Dershowitz struggles in his socialist struggling in the enclave of liberal elitism actually says something about the state of where liberal elites are, and that there is this intolerance. Fox News, "Media's Supreme Court scrutiny," 9 July 2018 Scooters are annoying symbols of tech-world elitism. Kevin Roose, New York Times, "How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Electric Scooters," 6 June 2018 Their populist combination of elitism with a reform agenda appears to have given voters more confidence in the ability of Sadr and Geagea to implement reform than in the prospect of independent voices to change the system. Renad Mansour, Washington Post, "An emerging populism is sweeping the Middle East," 11 July 2018 Trump is delivering both a relentless assault on the American mind while at the same time promoting the worst forms of old-fashioned credentialist elitism. Jonathan Chait, Daily Intelligencer, "‘Populist’ Trump Turns Up Nose at Public University Graduates," 9 July 2018 The cruel elitism of our current political moment undermines the rights of all Floridians. miamiherald, "Leigh-Ann Buchanan," 30 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'elitism.' 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 elitism

1947, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about elitism

Dictionary Entries near elitism



elite seed





Statistics for elitism

Last Updated

9 Jan 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for elitism

The first known use of elitism was in 1947

See more words from the same year

More from Merriam-Webster on elitism

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with elitism

Comments on elitism

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


important, real, or meaningful

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Homophone Quiz

  • three-bears-two-of-them-look-like-theyre-whispering-to-a-third-bear-who-looks-chuffed-to-be-the-center-of-attention
  • In order to judge how people felt, the senator's office hired a firm to take a ______.
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

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