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 The company’s brand of Swedish minimalism is squared off, often collapsible, and made of thin, light materials whenever possible. Caroline Delbert, Popular Mechanics, "Your House on Mars Will Probably Be Stocked with IKEA Furniture," 2 Dec. 2019 The arc evolved from inharmonic drones and swoops to a stretch of rolling, arpeggiated waves reminiscent of musical minimalism, and then back again. Washington Post, "With analog Music Easels, Eternal Now paints a serendipitous aural landscape," 11 Nov. 2019 The acerbic fizz of kombucha, the barnyard funk of fancy ciders, the ruckling tartness of sour beers—these and other harshnesses are ascendant among people who regard a hard seltzer as an instance of philistine minimalism. Troy Patterson, The New Yorker, "How the Orange-Wine Fad Became an Irresistible Assault on Pleasure," 7 Sep. 2019 The interior of the café and bar gives a nod to Nordic minimalism with simple wooden chairs, charcoal walls, and soft pendant lights. Mary Holland, Condé Nast Traveler, "From Beer Halls to Bakeries, Where to Find Seattle’s Scandinavian Influences," 4 Sep. 2019 Marie calls it minimalism — viewers may choose a sadder word. John Defore, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Bloody Marie': Film Review," 31 Oct. 2019 Caffeine is inspired in part by Apple's minimalism, Keighran said. Shannon Liao, CNN, "Caffeine wants to livestream games and be bigger than Twitch," 24 Oct. 2019 The nomadic lifestyle has likely become more popular because of flexible work arrangements, the gig economy, and the minimalism movement inspired by Marie Kondo. Callie Carmichael, USA TODAY, "Van life: Embracing minimalism, millennials ditch apartments in favor of nomadic lifestyle," 11 Oct. 2019 The guests rooms are decorated with a combination of Byzantine art and Zen minimalism. Ann Abel, Condé Nast Traveler, "The Best Spas in the U.S. & Around the World: 2019 Readers' Choice Awards," 7 Oct. 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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Time Traveler for minimalism

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The first known use of minimalism was in 1927

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Last Updated

7 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Minimalism.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 10 December 2019.

More from Merriam-Webster on minimalism

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

Comments on minimalism

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to state or do over again or repeatedly

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