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

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Other words from meritocracy

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

Examples of meritocracy in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

While these examples may seem frivolous, meritocracy fatigue is anything but. Heather Souvaine Horn, The New Republic, "Donald Trump, Meghan Markle, and America’s enduring obsession with the British royals," 12 July 2018 National teams are meritocracies and building a winning culture is crucial. Brian Straus,, "USMNT's New Talents Establish Own Culture, Tactical Identity as Uncertain Future Looms," 28 Mar. 2018 Forget his $38 million free-agent contract; championship teams must operate under a meritocracy. David Haugh,, "Kyle Hendricks' mastery of Giants suggests sabbatical over for 'The Professor'," 10 July 2018 All the ideas that might complicate this — meritocracy, for example, or a color-blind vision of justice, or equality of opportunity rather than outcome — are to be mocked until they are dismantled. Andrew Sullivan, Daily Intelligencer, "Obama’s Legacy Has Already Been Destroyed," 18 May 2018 The comment continues to rankle Smith, who views his career as an exercise in perfectly incremental meritocracy. Vinson Cunningham, The New Yorker, "Stephen A. Smith Won’t Stop Talking," 16 June 2018 The notion that college admissions are based on some sort of meritocracy is, well, silly. Valerie Strauss, Washington Post, "What you should know about race-based affirmative action and diversity in schools," 3 July 2018 The promise made by social media platforms—of openness, neutrality, meritocracy, and community—remains powerful and seductive, resonating deeply with the ideals of network culture and a truly democratic information society. Tarleton Gillespie, WIRED, "How Social Networks Set the Limits of What We Can Say Online," 26 June 2018 In addition, the meritocracy in such fields might not forgive the lack of productivity or morale that can result when a person becomes the victim of harassment. Katie Reilly, Time, "Report Calls for Widespread Change to Combat Sexual Harassment in Academia," 14 June 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.

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First Known Use of meritocracy

1958, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for meritocracy

merit entry 1 + -o- + -cracy

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Last Updated

19 Sep 2018

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The first known use of meritocracy was in 1958

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