in·​di·​vid·​u·​al·​ism ˌin-də-ˈvi-jə-wə-ˌli-zəm How to pronounce individualism (audio)
: a doctrine that the interests of the individual are or ought to be ethically paramount
also : conduct guided by such a doctrine
: the conception that all values, rights, and duties originate in individuals
: 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
: an individual peculiarity : idiosyncrasy

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 By contrast, in the 1990s and after, conservative nationalists cited the theories of Plato’s Republic to show that China was right to cultivate meritocracy and social harmony and that the West had lost its way in selfish individualism. Shadi Bartsch, Foreign Affairs, 18 Apr. 2023 The complex web of forces that shaped the life of an impoverished person gave the lie to glib ideas about individualism whereby hard work equals upward mobility. Kim Phillips-Fein, The New Republic, 28 Aug. 2023 Wiseman, going beneath the surface of American individualism, explores public and private institutions that foster and sustain the myth of the independent individual. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, 1 Aug. 2023 The Detroit Lions’ coach, Dan Campbell, displayed his rugged individualism. Mike Tanier, New York Times, 29 Apr. 2023 If figures like Bannon and Wolf are selling self-righteous individualism, the left must work on bringing people together and building solidarity. Laura Marsh, The New Republic, 5 Sep. 2023 Espionage was once considered antithetical to American individualism. WIRED, 9 Aug. 2023 My landlord said no to raising livestock in the apartment, so that left building the smoker itself to express my rugged individualism. Joe Kohl-Riggs, Popular Mechanics, 27 July 2023 In today’s world, where style is edging back to irreverence and individualism, what could be more perfect than imperfection? Mark Holgate, Vogue, 23 Aug. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'individualism.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

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

Time Traveler
The first known use of individualism was in 1815

Dictionary Entries Near individualism

Cite this Entry

“Individualism.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Oct. 2023.

Kids Definition


in·​di·​vid·​u·​al·​ism ˌin-də-ˈvij(ə-)wə-ˌliz-əm How to pronounce individualism (audio)
: a belief that the interests of the individual are of the greatest importance
: a belief that the individual has political or economic rights with which the state must not interfere
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!