grad·​u·​al·​ism | \ ˈgra-jə-wə-ˌli-zəm How to pronounce gradualism (audio) , -jə-ˌli-\

Definition of gradualism

1 : the policy of approaching a desired end by gradual stages
2 : the evolution of new species by gradual accumulation of small genetic changes over long periods of time also : a theory or model of evolution emphasizing this — compare punctuated equilibrium

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from gradualism

gradualist \ ˈgra-​jə-​wə-​list How to pronounce gradualist (audio) , -​jə-​list \ noun or adjective
gradualistic \ ˌgra-​jə(-​wə)-​ˈli-​stik How to pronounce gradualistic (audio) \ adjective

Examples of gradualism in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Waymo's solution to the safety-verification problem has been extreme gradualism. Timothy B. Lee, Ars Technica, "Intel’s Mobileye wants to dominate driverless cars—but there’s a problem," 21 May 2018 The president has instead opted for gradualism, which is a code word for soft-pedaling the sad facts. Mary Anastasia O’grady, WSJ, "The Argentine Peso’s Death Spiral," 13 May 2018 More recently, however, Macri’s gradualism and dependence on international markets to help finance this transition have run into rising interest rates in the United States. The Christian Science Monitor, "Argentina’s cry for help: How the world can respond," 16 May 2018 Waymo realized that the key to making this work was a different kind of gradualism: fielding a taxi service that initially would only work on a limited number of streets and weather conditions. Timothy B. Lee, Ars Technica, "People who paid Tesla $3,000 for full self-driving might be out of luck," 17 Apr. 2018 Mr Macri’s bet on economic gradualism could also be derailed. The Economist, "Mauricio Macri fights Argentina’s tradition of handouts for votes," 22 Mar. 2018 Although orthodox economists grumble about Mr Macri’s gradualism, Argentine investors seem to endorse it. The Economist, "Argentina’s gamble on economic gradualism is working, so far," 18 Jan. 2018 The centre’s commitment to gradualism, pluralism and rationality are no match for populists’ simplistic emotional appeals. The Economist, "BelloThe appeal of Macronismo in Latin America," 7 Sep. 2017 This strategy allows Google—now Waymo—to pursue a different kind of gradualism. Timothy B. Lee, Ars Technica, "Waymo makes history testing on public roads with no one at the wheel," 7 Nov. 2017

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

1835, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about gradualism

Statistics for gradualism

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for gradualism

The first known use of gradualism was in 1835

See more words from the same year

More from Merriam-Webster on gradualism

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with gradualism Encyclopedia article about gradualism

Comments on gradualism

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


a device or gadget

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words for Summer: A Quiz

  • a closeup of a sunflower
  • Which of the following words means “of or relating to summer”?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

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!