in·​di·​vid·​u·​al·​ism | \ ˌin-də-ˈvij-wə-ˌli-zəm, -ˈvi-jə-wə- How to pronounce individualism (audio) , -ˈvi-jə-ˌli- \

Definition of individualism

1a(1) : a doctrine that the interests of the individual are or ought to be ethically paramount also : conduct guided by such a doctrine
(2) : the conception that all values, rights, and duties originate in individuals
b : a theory maintaining the political and economic independence of the individual and stressing individual initiative, action, and interests also : conduct or practice guided by such a theory
b : an individual peculiarity : idiosyncrasy

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Examples of individualism in a Sentence

a society that believes strongly in individualism He was respected for his self-reliance and individualism.
Recent Examples on the Web The interesting thing about the vault is, despite the individualism of gymnastics, momentum seems to build on that event more than any other one. The Salt Lake Tribune, "Utah’s gymnastics team is adept on vault, but has had issues. Sticking the landing is everything.," 31 Mar. 2021 In fact, throughout history America’s conflicted view toward alcohol has been a potent expression of America itself, conveying cultural values that often contradict each other — unity and individualism, self-improvement and self-determination. Esther Mobley, San Francisco Chronicle, "Pandemic drinking shows America's all-or-nothing attitude toward alcohol: binge or be sober," 17 Mar. 2021 With her brand, Balek hopes to empower women to freely celebrate their individualism and confidence while revealing their feminine and flirtatious sides. Angela Lei, Forbes, "Angelys Balek Defines 2021 Resort Elegance With Sustainability In Mind," 12 Mar. 2021 Here in America, there is a strong belief in individualism. Los Angeles Times, "How ‘76 Days’ director Hao Wu got an inside look at the COVID-19 outbreak in Wuhan," 29 Nov. 2020 How did the home of Barry Goldwater — a state whose residents used to pride themselves on their rugged individualism and general hostility to big government — end up passing the largest tax increase in Arizona’s history? Victor Riches, National Review, "Arizona’s Tax Disaster: Refugees from Blue States and Other Infuriating Explanations," 13 Nov. 2020 The old meaning of the proverb connotes a collective social responsibility and worldview that challenges individualism ushered by the Enlightenment. Rajshree Agarwal, Forbes, "How And Why To Mentor In Your Chosen Village," 25 Feb. 2021 President Ronald Reagan was frequently photographed in denim during visits to his California ranch—the very picture of rugged individualism. Brandon Tensley, Smithsonian Magazine, "How Denim Became a Political Symbol of the 1960s," 17 Nov. 2020 From the beginning, the delusion of American individualism and the angst of an uncertain end date have blocked hordes of people from realizing or acknowledging that there is only one safe way to do this. Casey Taylor, The New Republic, "Inside the Hostage Crisis of America’s Dying Restaurants," 11 Dec. 2020

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

1815, in the meaning defined at sense 1a(1)

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Time Traveler for individualism

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The first known use of individualism was in 1815

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Statistics for individualism

Last Updated

12 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Individualism.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Apr. 2021.

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More Definitions for individualism



English Language Learners Definition of individualism

: the belief that the needs of each person are more important than the needs of the whole society or group
: the actions or attitudes of a person who does things without being concerned about what other people will think

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