me·​lio·​rism | \ ˈmēl-yə-ˌri-zəm How to pronounce meliorism (audio) , ˈmē-lē-ə- \

Definition of meliorism

: the belief that the world tends to improve and that humans can aid its betterment

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from meliorism

meliorist \ ˈmēl-​yə-​rist How to pronounce meliorist (audio) , ˈmē-​lē-​ə-​ \ adjective or noun
melioristic \ ˌmēl-​yə-​ˈri-​stik How to pronounce melioristic (audio) , ˌmē-​lē-​ə-​ \ adjective

Did You Know?

In 1877, British novelist George Eliot believed she had coined meliorist when she wrote, "I don't know that I ever heard anybody use the word 'meliorist' except myself." Her contemporaries credited her with coining both meliorist and meliorism, and one of her letters contains the first documented use of meliorism, but there is evidence that meliorist had been around for 40 years or so before she started using it. Whoever coined it did so by drawing on the Latin melior, meaning "better." It is likely that the English coinages were also influenced by another melior descendant, meliorate, a synonym of ameliorate ("to make better") that was introduced to English in the mid-1500s.

Examples of meliorism in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web To its critics, this modesty and meliorism represent cowardice. Rosa Inocencio Smith, The Atlantic, "The Atlantic," 10 Aug. 2017

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

First Known Use of meliorism

1877, in the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about meliorism

Time Traveler for meliorism

Time Traveler

The first known use of meliorism was in 1877

See more words from the same year

Listen to Our Podcast about meliorism

Statistics for meliorism

Cite this Entry

“Meliorism.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Feb. 2020.

More from Merriam-Webster on meliorism

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with meliorism

Comments on meliorism

What made you want to look up meliorism? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

More Confusing Words—Quiz

  • cats on impossible timber
  • The magician ______ moved the selected card to the top of the deck.
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Add Diction

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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