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

Examples of meritocracy in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

That the meritocracy will resume its normal service shortly. Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, "The world wonders what's happened to America," 10 Aug. 2019 While the adults of Crystal dream of meritocracy, their kids bear the burden. Katy Waldman, The New Yorker, "How a Novel Can Unmake the Myth of Meritocracy," 16 July 2019 Meng said her Chinese doctoral students chose to stay because the U.S. system of meritocracy allows them to advance more equitably than in China, where there is a greater focus on guanxi, or connections. Teresa Watanabe, Los Angeles Times, "Trump is cracking down on China. Now UC campuses are paying the price," 22 July 2019 Photographer: Juan Barreto/AFP/Getty Images 2003 Oil Strike Opposition to Chavez remained strong at PDVSA, even after the coup, with career professionals accusing the government of undermining the company’s history of meritocracy. Peter Millard,, "A Timeline of Venezuela’s Economic Rise and Fall," 16 Feb. 2019 The battle for funding meritocracy remains tilted against women. Neil Senturia, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Why Shark Tank’s Kevin O’Leary puts his money on women-led companies," 22 July 2019 Defenders of the system, many of whom are politically connected, call it a meritocracy. James Vaznis,, "New superintendent open to replacing entrance test for exam schools," 10 July 2019 There’s no reprieve for us, there’s no meritocracy. Katy Sian, Quartz, "“Liberal racism” continues to plague Britain’s universities," 27 June 2019 Meg Urry, director of the Yale Center for Astronomy and Astrophysics and former chair of the physics department at Yale University, notes that would be a concern if the current system is one of true meritocracy. Alice Park, Time, "NIH Director Francis Collins Has a Plan to Help Eliminate "Manels"," 24 June 2019

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 at sense 1

History and Etymology for meritocracy

merit entry 1 + -o- + -cracy

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Last Updated

5 Sep 2019

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The first known use of meritocracy was in 1956

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More from Merriam-Webster on meritocracy Encyclopedia article about meritocracy

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


one from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan

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