mer·​i·​toc·​ra·​cy | \ ˌmer-ə-ˈtä-krə-sē \
plural meritocracies

Definition of meritocracy

1 : a system in which the talented are chosen and moved ahead on the basis of their achievement only the elite, in that new meritocracy, would enjoy the opportunity for self-fulfillment— R. P. Warren
2 : leadership selected on the basis of intellectual criteria many private schools have sold their birthright by choosing … "diversity" over scholarly meritocracy— L. G. Crovitz

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from meritocracy

meritocratic \ ˌmer-​ə-​tə-​ˈkra-​tik \ adjective

Examples of meritocracy in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

One of tennis’ great virtues lies in its meritocracy., "Mailbag: Petra Kvitova Is the Best Story in Tennis Right Now, and Maybe in All of Sports," 16 May 2018 The basic truth lurking behind the stories is that Indian society is not a meritocracy. Kushanava Choudhury, WSJ, "‘Dreamers’ Review: Limited Prospects, Global Ambitions," 15 Aug. 2018 The tournament is the most ruthless sort of meritocracy. Rory Smith, New York Times, "The ‘Two Worlds’ of the Champions League Keep Drifting Apart," 22 Feb. 2018 Men are also more likely to worry the diversity focus will make their workplaces less of a meritocracy. Vanessa Fuhrmans, WSJ, "What #MeToo Has to Do With the Workplace Gender Gap," 23 Oct. 2018 And a small effort to weaken our increasingly deep caste system in America in favor of meritocracy would be a huge benefit for us all. Andrew Sullivan, Daily Intelligencer, "Did Trump Just Help Stop Brexit?," 13 July 2018 Growth mindset is the belief that people can evolve and grow, a key element of belonging, and an essential counterpoint to the persistently annoying meritocracy narrative found in the tech sector. Ellen Mcgirt, Fortune, "raceAhead: How To Tell If Your Employees Feel Welcome At Work," 28 June 2018 Explain the meritocracy problem now that has been created. NBC News, "Meet the Press - May 27, 2018," 27 May 2018 Vista touts the tests to its investors as a great equalizer, helping make its companies diverse meritocracies. Laura Cooper, WSJ, "Billionaire’s Secret Buyout Formula: 110 Instructions and an Intelligence Test," 9 July 2018

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

See More

First Known Use of meritocracy

1958, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for meritocracy

merit entry 1 + -o- + -cracy

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about meritocracy

Share meritocracy

Statistics for meritocracy

Last Updated

7 Feb 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for meritocracy

The first known use of meritocracy was in 1958

See more words from the same year

More from Merriam-Webster on meritocracy Encyclopedia article about meritocracy

Comments on meritocracy

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


excited commotion or publicity

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

What did you just call me?! A Quiz

  • rows-of-various-emoji
  • If a member of the audience describes your speech as bombastic, does that person mean it is:
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Word Winder's CrossWinder

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!