ex·​cep·​tion·​al·​ism | \ik-ˈsep-shnə-ˌli-zəm, -shə-nə-\

Definition of exceptionalism 

: the condition of being different from the norm also : a theory expounding the exceptionalism especially of a nation or region

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from exceptionalism

exceptionalist \ik-​ˈsep-​shnə-​list, -​shə-​nə-​ \ adjective

Examples of exceptionalism in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Just like Lucas’ films, which frame Anakin Skywalker and his progeny as the literal Chosen Ones, the single most important people in the galaxy, Crimes of Grindelwald falls into the exceptionalism trap. Chaim Gartenberg, The Verge, "Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald is the franchise’s Attack of the Clones when it should be The Last Jedi," 27 Nov. 2018 Charles Krauthammer, giving his take on American exceptionalism. Fox News, "FOX NEWS FIRST: Remembering Charles Krauthammer; Melania's fashion 'statement' sparks 'fake news' frenzy," 22 June 2018 The Lakers have missed the playoffs in every season since 2014 and whiffed on marquee free agents in recent off-seasons—a stinging rejection to the idea of Lakers exceptionalism. Ben Cohen, WSJ, "LeBron James Takes His Talents to the Los Angeles Lakers," 1 July 2018 Is American exceptionalism dead in the air of Donald Trump? Fox News, "Woolsey: Trump keeps the North Koreans off balance," 12 June 2018 Herein lay the justification for Gilpin’s remarkable, if fanciful, theory that rationalized American exceptionalism. Johnforristerross, Longreads, "Taming the Great American Desert," 2 July 2018 However, over the course of the 19th-century, American histories of the revolution minimized the allies’ role, building a nationalistic myth of raw courage and self-sufficiency that represented an early glimpse of American exceptionalism. Alice George, Smithsonian, "The American Revolution Was Just One Battlefront in a Huge World War," 28 June 2018 But that is exactly where the problem lies: in their unreadiness, not in our exceptionalism. Kate Branch, Vogue, "Why, at 31, I Finally Started Wearing My Afro," 29 June 2018 Bloom filed last week to go public, and a trot through its prospectus proves the point of Silicon Valley’s deserved exceptionalism. Aaron Pressman, Fortune, "Data Sheet—Why the Pride of Green Tech Startups Is Going Public," 18 June 2018

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

1929, in the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about exceptionalism

Share exceptionalism

Statistics for exceptionalism

Last Updated

4 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for exceptionalism

The first known use of exceptionalism was in 1929

See more words from the same year

More from Merriam-Webster on exceptionalism

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with exceptionalism

Comments on exceptionalism

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


a nest or breeding place

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Late Autumn 2018 Words of the Day Quiz

  • frosted-autumn-leaves
  • Which is a synonym of yahoo?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Word Winder's CrossWinder

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!