es·​sen·​tial·​ism | \ i-ˈsen(t)-shə-ˌli-zəm How to pronounce essentialism (audio) \

Definition of essentialism

1 : an educational theory that ideas and skills basic to a culture should be taught to all alike by time-tested methods — compare progressivism
2 : a philosophical theory ascribing ultimate reality to essence embodied in a thing perceptible to the senses — compare nominalism
3 : the practice of regarding something (such as a presumed human trait) as having innate existence or universal validity rather than as being a social, ideological, or intellectual construct

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Other Words from essentialism

essentialist \ i-​ˈsen(t)-​shə-​list How to pronounce essentialist (audio) \ adjective or noun

Examples of essentialism in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

What drives Trump is racial essentialism, a rage at the post-racial, integrative center that the mixed-race Obama represented. Andrew Sullivan, Daily Intelligencer, "Obama’s Legacy Has Already Been Destroyed," 18 May 2018 So there is a whiff of gender essentialism of the Mars/Venus variety threaded through the script. Kerry Reid,, "'Birds of a Feather' is based on true story of same-sex penguin couple Roy and Silo," 11 May 2018 With a writer as talented as Giffels, though, this reader could accept the bromances and the gender essentialism as the prices of an emotionally satisfying narrative. Samuel G. Freedman, New York Times, "Finding Oneself in a Coffin," 22 Dec. 2017 The world of Middle-earth betrays forms of paternalism, imperialism, and racial essentialism that have no use today. Vann R. Newkirk Ii, The Atlantic, "There and Back Again," 22 Sep. 2017 Doing so re-creates the same gender essentialism, in which certain traits are supposedly masculine or feminine, that Rosalind obliterates. Mike Fischer, The Mercury News, "Shakespeare’s mightiest heroine: Can you guess?," 24 Apr. 2017 On the first level, that idea could be leveraged to get women opportunities to tell some stories, but also to reinforce a gender essentialism that shuts them out of other projects. Alyssa Rosenberg, The Denver Post, "Joss Whedon’s “Batgirl” movie reveals a weakness in a key argument for diversity," 12 Apr. 2017 Being a follow in any structured dancing situation is an interesting experience of gender essentialism. Lizzy Acker,, "7 nights of dancing in Portland," 24 May 2017 As a result of this essentialism, Bacevich glosses over a vital point about the Middle East today: A historic and brutal struggle between radicals and modernists for the future of the region is underway. David Rohde, New York Times, "‘America’s War for the Greater Middle East,’ by Andrew J. Bacevich," 15 Apr. 2016

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

1927, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for essentialism

The first known use of essentialism was in 1927

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