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.

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Other Words from materialism

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

Examples of materialism in a Sentence

the materialism of modern society

Recent Examples on the Web

Her pieces are collide-o-scopic mashups of materialism and consumerism. Steven Litt,, "Cleveland Institute of Art alumni show hits the eye like a tall, cool drink on a hot summer day," 4 Aug. 2019 Other students competed to show their blackness by conforming to stereotypes of black materialism. Joshua Burrell,, "Joshua Burrell: Growing up black in Columbia," 1 Aug. 2019 As men of morals who define themselves against liberalism’s crassness, materialism, and lack of self-restraint, they either support or show sympathy for a presidential caricature of the Seven Deadly Sins. Alexander Zaitchik, The New Republic, "Is Josh Hawley For Real?," 25 July 2019 Michael doesn’t so much argue as feel that some combination of materialism, technocracy, and individualism is carrying us away from our purpose. Kyle Smith, National Review, "The Millennial Who Rejects Hipness and Irony," 14 June 2019 What about the moms and dads who worry that exposing children to what amounts to a virtual version of the closet Cher had in Clueless might introduce and encourage materialism, consumerism, and an awareness of labels at way too early of an age? Alexandra Macon, Vogue, "Rent the Runway Launches Kids—and My Two Daughters Took It for a Test Drive," 8 Apr. 2019 The holiday, which once marked the beginning of the holiday shopping season (more on that later), is associated with consumerism, materialism, and, occasionally, a lack of family values. Gaby Del Valle, Vox, "Black Friday is longer, and tamer, than ever," 20 Nov. 2018 Our society is driven by rampant materialism, and prepping is no exception. Jamie Lauren Keiles, Vox, "What doomsday preppers are buying this Black Friday," 21 Nov. 2018 Musicians are not unique here: In the years since the Reagan administration, a reveling in what used to be called heartless materialism has become de rigueur. Scott Timberg, Vox, "How music has responded to a decade of economic inequality," 30 July 2018

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.

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First Known Use of materialism

1696, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

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Statistics for materialism

Last Updated

10 Aug 2019

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Time Traveler for materialism

The first known use of materialism was in 1696

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More Definitions for materialism



English Language Learners Definition of materialism

: a way of thinking that gives too much importance to material possessions rather than to spiritual or intellectual things
philosophy : the belief that only material things exist

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More from Merriam-Webster on materialism

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with materialism

Spanish Central: Translation of materialism

Nglish: Translation of materialism for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of materialism for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about materialism

Comments on materialism

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of or relating to the heavens

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