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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The Recession also ushered in an era of minimalism in which people like Marie Kondo turned owning fewer things into a virtue. Susannah Locke, Vox, "The best of everything," 7 Dec. 2018 Effortless beauty and chic minimalism are as captivating as the icons, like Carine Roitfeld, Jane Birkin, and Catherine Deneuve, who helped create them. Leah Prinzivalli, Glamour, "10 Women Who Defy the 'French-Girl Beauty' Trope," 14 July 2018 Sister City, ManhattanThe spin-off from the Atelier Ace team is minimalism to the max. Cnt Editors, Condé Nast Traveler, "Hotel Report: Where Our Editors Are Staying Now," 17 Oct. 2018 Whether floor or countertop, minimalism encourages space and finding beauty in the simplicity. Sienna Fantozzi, House Beautiful, "What Is Minimalism, Exactly?," 24 Sep. 2018 His exploration of motifs—in paintings, prints, drawings and sculpture—propelled 20th-century art into a host of avenues, including pop art, conceptualism and minimalism. Brenda Cronin, WSJ, "Jasper Johns Isn’t Done Yet," 22 Sep. 2018 In an age when the privileged have adopted minimalism, these holiday shoppers have been called out for embracing American excess. Nadra Nittle, Vox, "The classist vilification of the Black Friday shopper," 20 Nov. 2018 Not exactly a subtle decoration choice, but then again, the ’70s weren’t known for their minimalism. Liz Stinson, Curbed, "Score a ’70s time capsule in Sweden for $143K," 6 Sep. 2018 As a piece of animation, the movie is colorful and clean, with Disney’s classic Pooh designs displaying a polish that’s become increasingly rare in an art form that’s lately been dominated by the cheap, frayed minimalism of TV cartoons. Noel Murray, The Verge, "Christopher Robin is a reminder of all the good Pooh movies — including one on Netflix now," 3 Aug. 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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19 Jan 2019

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The first known use of minimalism was in 1927

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Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with minimalism Encyclopedia article about minimalism

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tremendous in size, volume, or degree

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