mer·​can·​til·​ism | \-ˌtē-ˌli-zəm, -ˌtī-, -tə-\

Definition of mercantilism 

1 : the theory or practice of mercantile pursuits : commercialism

2 : an economic system developing during the decay of feudalism to unify and increase the power and especially the monetary wealth of a nation by a strict governmental regulation of the entire national economy usually through policies designed to secure an accumulation of bullion (see bullion sense 1), a favorable balance of trade, the development of agriculture and manufactures, and the establishment of foreign trading monopolies (see monopoly sense 1)

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Other Words from mercantilism

mercantilist \-​list \ noun or adjective
mercantilistic \ˌmər-​kən-​ˌtē-​ˈlis-​tik, -​ˌtī-​, -​tə-​ \ adjective

Examples of mercantilism in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

The Trump administration is right to make Chinese mercantilism an issue, Mr. Cass says, but its response has been ineffectual. Jason Willick, WSJ, "Conservatives and the Politics of Work," 23 Nov. 2018 The economy is on an upswing, propped up by debt but also, for now, defying conventional theories that mercantilism will sap China’s creative vigor. Andrew Browne, WSJ, "If This Is a Trade War, China’s Winning," 26 Sep. 2017 His steel and aluminum tariffs punish friends who could forge an alliance against Chinese mercantilism. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "Disruption Isn’t Enough," 10 June 2018 The Economist was founded in opposition to tariffs and mercantilism. The Economist, "America’s allies should stand up to its reckless trade policy," 7 June 2018 Economists have begun to rethink the effectiveness of the postwar trade regime, thanks to China’s blatant mercantilism, theft of intellectual property, distortive subsidies, and determination to displace Western industry. Thomas J. Duesterberg, WSJ, "Trump Needs Allies on Trade," 23 Apr. 2018 The failure to stop Chinese mercantilism severely damaged the U.S. workforce. David Dayen, The New Republic, "Trump’s Theater of Trade," 27 Mar. 2018 Countries through the years have used other means to keep foreign goods out and protect homegrown companies, a practice known as mercantilism. Andrew Mayeda And Bryce Baschuk / Bloomberg, Time, "What Is a Trade War? Why Economists Are Worried," 24 Mar. 2018 Some in the Trump administration see steel as part of a much bigger problem of Chinese mercantilism. The Economist, "Steel yourselfDonald Trump’s difficult decision on steel imports," 11 Jan. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'mercantilism.' 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 mercantilism

1838, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Last Updated

6 Dec 2018

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Time Traveler for mercantilism

The first known use of mercantilism was in 1838

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Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with mercantilism Encyclopedia article about mercantilism

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a knickknack or trinket

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