ex·​cep·​tion·​al·​ism | \ ik-ˈsep-shnə-ˌli-zəm How to pronounce exceptionalism (audio) , -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 How to pronounce exceptionalist (audio) , -​shə-​nə-​ \ adjective

Examples of exceptionalism in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web While Mr Putin has become the template for authoritarians, Mr Trump has abandoned the notion of America’s exceptionalism in the name of a different kind of normality. The Economist, "The ironies of revolution A love affair with liberal democracy that soured," 9 Jan. 2020 Second, the rise of inflation undermined the notion of American exceptionalism. David Beckworth, National Review, "Paul Volcker’s Noble War on Inflation," 16 Dec. 2019 No more American exceptionalism in all the wrong ways. Alexa Díazstaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, "After Trump backtracks, Parkland shooting survivors issue sweeping gun control plan," 21 Aug. 2019 Extreme wealth, in the American imagination—and very definitely in the Roy family’s mythology—works as an agent of exceptionalism: Wealth is impunity. Megan Garber, The Atlantic, "Why Succession Works So Well as Horror," 13 Oct. 2019 Both celebrate American exceptionalism confident in the essential goodness of the United States (even if that goodness is defined a little differently in each text). Paul Musgrave, The Denver Post, "Guest Commentary: U.S. tried to fix Ukraine’s government; we exported our corruption, instead," 27 Sep. 2019 Everyone is obsessed with exceptionalism and with social media and global interconnection and everything. Ryan Asselta, SI.com, "A Quick Nine With Maverick McNealy," 25 Sep. 2019 The world needs to start ignoring American exceptionalism, and that begins by ignoring the president. Chandran Nair, Quartz, "It’s time the world ghosts Trump and gets down to real work," 21 Sep. 2019 This exceptionalism is a choice, one made each time nothing is done to limit access to military weapons after the latest burst of killing. Tim Fernholz, Quartz, "Why the US probably won’t pass stronger gun control laws," 10 Aug. 2019

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

Time Traveler for exceptionalism

Time Traveler

The first known use of exceptionalism was in 1929

See more words from the same year

Statistics for exceptionalism

Last Updated

16 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Exceptionalism.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/exceptionalism. Accessed 22 January 2020.

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).


to help to grow, develop, or succeed

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Intact Latin Quiz

  • roman tablet
  • What did focus mean in Latin?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Dictionary Devil

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!