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

So does a rugged individualism that resists being told what to do, compounded by wariness toward authorities among local immigrants from former Soviet republics, where immunization campaigns were conducted by a coercive state. Nina Shapiro, The Seattle Times, "Fear, resentment — and more demand for vaccines as one Washington county grapples with measles outbreak," 1 Apr. 2019 When politics and the economy do their worst, London’s fashion designers have always rallied around self-reliant creativity and individualism. Sarah Mower, Vogue, "The Brexit Deadline Is Looming—Here’s How It Will Affect London Fashion Week," 14 Feb. 2019 This is America, the birthplace of Hollywood and rugged individualism, the epicenter of celebrity culture. Sam Walker, WSJ, "Close the Hall of Fame, Cancel the MVP Award: There’s a Better Way," 27 Dec. 2018 Much of this adventurous trying of the new speaks to a growing confidence in just wearing a name for a name’s sake; individualism and self-expression are driving fashion buys like never before. Mark Holgate, Vogue, "’90s-Era Prada Nylon, Investment Blazers, and the Blanket You Share With Your Bed: What We Bought in 2018," 17 Dec. 2018 The United States may not be allowed to build a medical database of all U.S. citizens, for reasons of privacy, individualism and human rights. Francesco Marconi, WSJ, "Historian Yuval Noah Harari on the Robot Revolution," 27 Sep. 2018 As a result, areas exposed to the church for longer developed more impersonal norms, like individualism and impartial treatment, as opposed to obedience and nepotism. Kevin Lewis,, "Looking for negative signals," 6 July 2018 Democratic majority rule often conflicts with individualism; liberty, with equality; religious freedom, with personal liberation; and internationalist openness, with civic nationalism. Cathy Young,, "Is liberal democracy failing? No, it’s a victim of its own success," 8 July 2018 Putnam criticized the technological individualism encouraged by television and the internet, which had already shown a capacity to promote selfishness. Ian Bogost, The Atlantic, "What Petty Nextdoor Posts Reveal About America," 20 June 2018

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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The first known use of individualism was in 1815

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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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