mer·​i·​toc·​ra·​cy | \ ˌmer-ə-ˈtä-krə-sē How to pronounce meritocracy (audio) \
plural meritocracies

Definition of meritocracy

: a system, organization, or society in which people are chosen and moved into positions of success, power, and influence on the basis of their demonstrated abilities and merit (see merit entry 1 sense 1b) Only the elite, in that new meritocracy, would enjoy the opportunity for self-fulfillment …— Robert Penn Warren Though founded theoretically on principles of meritocracy, the public arena was parceled into spheres of personal influence …— Mac Margolis A paradox lies at the heart of this new American meritocracy. Merit has replaced the old system of inherited privilege … . But merit, it turns out, is at least partly class-based. Parents with money, education and connections cultivate in their children the habits that the meritocracy rewards.— Janny Scott et al. also : the people who are moved into such positions a member of the meritocracy France remains a tightly centralized nation, run by a governmental and business meritocracy carefully prepared for positions of power in elite graduate schools. — Jim Hoagland

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Other Words from meritocracy

meritocratic \ ˌmer-​ə-​tə-​ˈkra-​tik How to pronounce meritocracy (audio) \ adjective

Examples of meritocracy in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web If the country had a true meritocracy, then everyone would get the preparatory help as well as access to the insights and advice that make progression up the economic and social ladders possible. Erik Sherman, Forbes, "Why A Higher Minimum Wage Panics So Many," 25 Feb. 2021 For all the talk about earning playing time and meritocracy, the handling of Odor’s role will speak to the concept more than anything the Rangers can say. Evan Grant, Dallas News, "What happens with Rougned Odor will be at the heart of the Rangers’ efforts to build a new culture," 22 Feb. 2021 The conflation of democracy and meritocracy is essential to this exercise: claims to expertise legitimate elite authority. Jackson Lears, The New York Review of Books, "Democracy’s Genuine Crisis," 14 Jan. 2021 One striking innovation of modern meritocracy is the teen-age executive. Marella Gayla, The New Yorker, "Is Every Ambitious Teen-ager a “Founder and C.E.O.”?," 28 Dec. 2020 For Sandel, this deviation from egalitarian principles amounts to sneaking the concept of meritocracy into the mix. Win Mccormack, The New Republic, "Meritocracy on Trial," 23 Dec. 2020 Or will the meritocracy seen in the 2020 offense hold up as the new norm? Nathan Baird, cleveland, "What Emeka Egbuka’s commitment means for Ohio State football: Buckeye recruiting," 12 Dec. 2020 The notion of a meritocracy – a society in which individual hard work could overcome global economic forces – has been tested to its limit this year. Vicky Spratt,, "Is Ambition Dead?," 4 Dec. 2020 In overlooking the many forms that meritocracy takes, Sandel perpetuates the myth that vocational education is a dead end. New York Times, "Meritocracy, Silicon Valley and Other Letters to the Editor," 4 Dec. 2020

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

1956, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for meritocracy

merit entry 1 + -o- + -cracy

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The first known use of meritocracy was in 1956

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Statistics for meritocracy

Last Updated

3 Mar 2021

Cite this Entry

“Meritocracy.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 9 Mar. 2021.

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