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

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Other Words from gradualism

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

Examples of gradualism in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Fox News, "Martin Luther King Jr.'s famous 'I Have a Dream' speech: Full text," 27 Aug. 2013 After nearly five decades in Washington, Biden is an institutionalist, a political leader who believes in consensus and gradualism. Walter Shapiro, The New Republic, "Joe Biden’s Great Reclamation Project," 17 Aug. 2020 Such conditions inevitably produce a recognition of the limits of gradualism among conservatives fed up with years of rearguard compromise who desire a proactive rather than an essentially defensive and recessional policy program. A. Wess Mitchell, National Review, "Conservatives and Geopolitical Change," 2 Apr. 2020 Such gradualism has not worked with North Korea in the past. The Economist, "Who would dare to speak for Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump?," 4 July 2019 Burke’s focus on the social character of man, from Burke’s thoroughgoing gradualism, and from his innovative liberal alternative to Enlightenment radicalism. Ramesh Ponnuru, National Review, "The Right Liberalism," 11 July 2019 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

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.

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First Known Use of gradualism

1835, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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The first known use of gradualism was in 1835

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Last Updated

3 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Gradualism.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Mar. 2021.

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