min·​i·​mal·​ism | \ˈmi-nə-mə-ˌli-zəm \

Definition of minimalism 

1 : a style or technique (as in music, literature, or design) that is characterized by extreme spareness and simplicity

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In the 1960s, a few composers, including Philip Glass, Steve Reich, and John Adams, began writing music inspired by the music of India and Southeast Asia, often with a quick pulsing beat and chords that are repeated quickly over and over while small changes are slowly introduced. Minimalist art, which began appearing around the same time, tries to strip away all personal elements, often leaving only pure geometric forms; you may have seen the plain silver boxes of Donald Judd, or the straight neon tubes of Bruce Nauman. In literature, the stripped-down fiction of Samuel Beckett and Raymond Carver is often considered minimalist. But there's a real question whether these various types of minimalism should even be considered the same concept.

Examples of minimalism in a Sentence

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Spring generally calls for an endless array of prints, but for those who prefer minimalism, a season filled with loud patterns isn’t an appealing proposition. Janelle Okwodu, Vogue, "How the Olsen Twins Make Monochrome Look Modern," 23 May 2018 The lobby is all about high-end minimalism, with sleek black stone floors, Chinese antiques and the iconic Long Bar. Natasha Huang Smith, Harper's BAZAAR, "The Best Ways to Shop Shanghai," 4 Jan. 2018 Beneath the cool minimalism roils maximalist outrage — the horror of being captive to not only your body but to society, . Parul Sehgal, New York Times, "A Darkly Comic Novel Stares Down a Life of Solitude," 22 May 2018 With simple forms such as rectangular boxes stacked one atop the other and interspersed with precise amounts of empty space, Judd could induce the viewer into a meditation on minimalism. Siobhan Morrissey, miamiherald, "These paintings are rarely shown. You can see them in Miami's Design District. | Miami Herald," 17 May 2018 The Sarah Chloe look, with its architectural minimalism featuring geometric shapes and clean lines, translated well to the collaboration’s graphic messages. Kathryn Romeyn,, "Jewelry designer and makeup artist team up to spread their golden rule: Love Yourself," 12 July 2018 The overall aesthetic of the shop lives up to its name, blending midcentury modern’s sophisticated minimalism with a nod to the rugged outdoors. Chris Lamorte,, "Andersonville’s new men's lifestyle shop Cowboys & Astronauts is ready to launch your summer style in 10, 9, 8 ...," 15 June 2018 Their house, spacious and decorated with the tasteful minimalism of a boutique hotel, is guarded by security, and staffed by two Filipino women who serve as nanny and housekeeper. Rachel Aviv, The New Yorker, "An Activist-Filmmaker Tackles Patriarchy in Pakistan," 6 Feb. 2016 The first gathers the ethereal glass cubes made by Bell, a renowned California Light and Space artist whose attention to material, transparency and reflection have earned him a spot in the pantheon of minimalism. Carolina A. Miranda,, "Datebook: Shots of old Route 66, dreamlike paintings and garments fashioned from paper," 12 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'minimalism.' 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 minimalism

1927, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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The first known use of minimalism was in 1927

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