min·​i·​mal·​ism | \ ˈmi-nə-mə-ˌli-zəm How to pronounce minimalism (audio) \

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

Recent Examples on the Web

Few among us favor judicial minimalism across ideological lines. Adam J. White, WSJ, "‘Oliver Wendell Holmes’ Review: The Maximal Minimalist," 24 May 2019 That’s not to say that minimalism hasn’t made a memorable impact: A late-’90s Kate Moss needed only a swipe of red lipstick (and Johnny Depp on her arm) to look photo-ready. Calin Van Paris, Vogue, "21 Iconic Cannes Beauty Moments: From Kate Moss to Kristen Stewart," 10 May 2019 That means every product has one main ingredient — minimalism at its best. Angela Trakoshis, Allure, "The Inkey List Is an Under-$15 Skin-Care Brand Now at Sephora," 22 Apr. 2019 From the 1960s to the ’80s, Dieter Rams oversaw a golden era at Braun as the mastermind behind household items that achieved timelessness and mass appeal through functional minimalism. Kristina O’neill, WSJ, "WSJ. Magazine Editor’s Letter: Taking the Lead," 13 Sep. 2018 While his peers put a premium on trendy flourishes, swoops, and jagged angles, the common thread running through his acclaimed work is minimalism that packs a punch. Spencer Bailey, Town & Country, "David Adjaye's Message to Architects: Stop Building McMansions," 26 Mar. 2019 Compared to the design minimalism practiced by Tesla, the Mercedes cabin is splendid in complication and tactility. Dan Neil, WSJ, "2019 Mercedes-Benz CLS: A Move Toward Electrification," 3 Aug. 2018 Perhaps the obviousness of the 2000s and the minimalism of the early 2010s had, too. Eliza Brooke, Vox, "How the Great Recession influenced a decade of design," 27 Dec. 2018 Since its birth by the man himself, Calvin Klein’s ready-to-wear has come to represent a slice of American lifestyle defined by chic, effortless minimalism. Brooke Bobb, Vogue, "Calvin Klein Is Moving Into the Future Without a Runway Collection—But Likely More Underwear-Clad Kardashians," 7 Mar. 2019

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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8 Jun 2019

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Time Traveler for minimalism

The first known use of minimalism was in 1927

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More from Merriam-Webster on minimalism

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

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


to move with exaggerated bouncy motions

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