mer·​can·​til·​ism ˈmər-kən-ˌtē-ˌli-zəm How to pronounce mercantilism (audio)
: the theory or practice of mercantile pursuits : commercialism
: 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)
ˈmər-kən-ˌtē-list How to pronounce mercantilism (audio)
noun or adjective
mercantilistic adjective

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web Participants considered inflation and the national debt to be some of the biggest threats facing the American economy, but there were also growing concerns about Chinese mercantilism and the breakdown of the family. Kevin Roberts, National Review, 4 Aug. 2022 Adam Smith attacked mercantilism because its tinkering in the economy for special business reasons made citizens worse off by shrinking income and living standards. R. Glenn Hubbard, National Review, 1 Mar. 2022 Part of Smith’s intellectual assault on mercantilism was to attack the power of special interests. Andrew Stuttaford, National Review, 4 Mar. 2022 Yet European policy is still too driven by mercantilism, as illustrated by France and Germany’s rush to sign Europe up to an investment agreement with China at the end of 2020. Anders Fogh Rasmussen, WSJ, 10 Oct. 2021 Economic relations need to consider China’s often predatory mercantilism, IP theft and cyber spying. The Editorial Board, WSJ, 6 May 2021 After European mercantilism exploded into early forms of empire in the 16th century, the ensuing markets of enslavement and exploitation fostered a logic of racial hierarchy that persists into the present day. Jo Livingstone, The New Republic, 16 Apr. 2021 The world is now pushing back against Chinese mercantilism. Victor Davis Hanson, National Review, 31 Dec. 2020 The political significance of Mr. Xi’s economic mercantilism is harder to predict. The Editorial Board, WSJ, 25 Sep. 2020 See More

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.

Word History

First Known Use

1838, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of mercantilism was in 1838

Dictionary Entries Near mercantilism

Cite this Entry

“Mercantilism.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Mar. 2023.

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