ma·​te·​ri·​al·​ism | \ mə-ˈtir-ē-ə-ˌli-zəm How to pronounce materialism (audio) \

Definition of materialism

1a : a theory that physical matter is the only or fundamental reality and that all being and processes and phenomena can be explained as manifestations or results of matter (see matter entry 1 sense 2) scientific materialism
b : a doctrine that the only or the highest values or objectives lie in material well-being and in the furtherance of material progress
c : a doctrine that economic or social change is materially caused — compare historical materialism
2 : a preoccupation with or stress upon material rather than intellectual or spiritual things materialism, hedonism, and the overriding quest for personal gratification— A. M. Schlesinger, Jr.

Other Words from materialism

materialist \ mə-​ˈtir-​ē-​ə-​list How to pronounce materialism (audio) \ noun or adjective

Examples of materialism in a Sentence

the materialism of modern society
Recent Examples on the Web But naming something can serve to push against a culture of materialism. Kathryn Hymes, The Atlantic, 14 Apr. 2022 Unfortunately, our society seems to reward materialism over financial wellness and security. Erik Sussman, Sun Sentinel, 14 Apr. 2022 The high calling that Del Noce leaves us is to break through this impasse and once again think and live in truths about God and man that transcend materialism, scientism, and an unexamined secularism. Richard M. Reinsch Ii, National Review, 17 Feb. 2022 The resulting combination of bold patterns, ebullient materialism, and fleshy, erotic physicality, contrasts dramatically with Sherald’s ethereal aesthetic. Steven Litt, cleveland, 2 Feb. 2022 But the political demand of equality has totally unmanned materialism. Michael Brendan Dougherty, National Review, 25 Mar. 2022 Beyond her discomfort with being called a saint, Ms. Day, who eschewed materialism, expressed concern about the use of church money for things like canonization, which requires years of painstaking work. New York Times, 21 Jan. 2022 According to Tim Kasser, a psychologist and professor emeritus at Knox College who has spent decades studying materialism, the word citizen has slowly come to be replaced by the word consumer in newspapers and books. Amanda Mull, The Atlantic, 22 Oct. 2021 If Rodgers’s example is anything to go by, the road warriors of the old school were above such base materialism. Martin Fritz Huber, Outside Online, 11 Jan. 2021 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'materialism.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of materialism

1696, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

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The first known use of materialism was in 1696

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Last Updated

20 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Materialism.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 May. 2022.

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