mil·​le·​nar·​i·​an·​ism ˌmi-lə-ˈner-ē-ə-ˌni-zəm How to pronounce millenarianism (audio)
: belief in the millennium of Christian prophecy
: belief in a coming ideal society and especially one created by revolutionary action

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Originally the millennium was not simply any thousand-year period, but instead the thousand years prophesied in the biblical Book of Revelation, when holiness will prevail on earth and Jesus Christ will preside over all. Later, millennium was extended to mean any period—always in the future—marked by universal happiness and human perfection. On several occasions over the centuries, members of Christian sects have become convinced that the biblical millennium was arriving and gathered together to await it. But nonreligious millenarians have also believed in a future society marked by human perfection. Even if they regard this future as certain, they've generally been willing to help it along by working for a political, social, or economic revolution. The millennium always seems to be approaching; to date, it hasn't arrived.

Examples of millenarianism in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Some of these new groups took turns toward religious conservatism, in ways that presaged the loose Christian millenarianism of the QAnon movement. Benjamin Wallace-Wells, The New Yorker, 29 Aug. 2023 That the dominant strain of the climate narrative is, like Leninism, one of the countless varieties of millenarianism that have plagued us over the centuries is no coincidence. Andrew Stuttaford, National Review, 2 June 2023 Often apocalypticism is then differentiated from both millenarianism and eschatology. Michael Robbins, Harper’s Magazine , 9 Nov. 2022 The conflation of religious millenarianism and revolutionary politics is an understandable, if misleading, tendency. Michael Robbins, Harper’s Magazine , 9 Nov. 2022 Historians have debated to what extent millenarianism — the belief in a coming 1,000-year reign of Christ on Earth — and other religious ideas influenced his thinking. Zenger News, Forbes, 31 Dec. 2022 Wild forms of millenarianism flourished in Europe from the Middle Ages through the seventeenth century, as Norman Cohn and Christopher Hill have delightfully documented. Michael Robbins, Harper’s Magazine , 9 Nov. 2022 Poe borrowed from evangelical millenarianism, the writings of Swedenborg and Mesmer—even, Tresch suggests, early translations of Hindu cosmologies. Colin Dickey, The New Republic, 21 July 2021 Some climate crusaders have invoked the mandate of heaven, and others use language all too reminiscent of millenarianism. Richard Lindzen, National Review, 16 Apr. 2021 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'millenarianism.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1829, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of millenarianism was in 1829

Dictionary Entries Near millenarianism

Cite this Entry

“Millenarianism.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Mar. 2024.

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