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 Inspired by travels to Japan, architect Tracy Price designed the residence in 1964 with an emphasis on minimalism and tranquility. Los Angeles Times, "Hot Property newsletter: A cross-country real estate trek," 19 Dec. 2020 Barbara Rose, whose writings tracked the rise of minimalism, has died at age 84. Los Angeles Times, "Newsletter: Essential Arts: Facing 2021 with 0 predictions and 1 poem," 2 Jan. 2021 Standup comedy favors minimalism: a bare stage, a microphone, and outfits that range from casual to barely out of bed. Michael Schulman, The New Yorker, "The Otherworldly Comedy of Julio Torres," 21 Dec. 2020 Longtime friends Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus make the most out of minimalism, explaining how our lives can be better with less. Bill Keveney, USA TODAY, "Everything new on Netflix in January: 'Cobra Kai' premieres Season 3, David Spade hosts 'Afterparty'," 17 Dec. 2020 This year for Black Friday/Cyber Monday, Sonos has dropped its stellar Beam soundbar to just $299 ($100 off), making this already great soundbar a near must-have for those looking to upgrade their home theater setup with minimalism in mind. Ryan Waniata, USA TODAY, "Black Friday 2020: Jump on this awesome Sonos Beam soundbar deal now," 27 Nov. 2020 But appreciating minimalism is one thing—working it into your personal look is quite another. Harper's BAZAAR, "Why Minimalism Never Goes Out of Style," 25 Nov. 2020 The Silence is full of voices, a work of talky minimalism whose characters are all troubled by the absence of sound. Michael Gorra, The New York Review of Books, "The Sense of an Ending," 17 Nov. 2020 High-end design has leaned toward minimalism for the past several decades, evangelizing a streamlined life and home. Sarah Baird, House Beautiful, "Kitsch," 14 Sep. 2020

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

23 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Minimalism.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Jan. 2021.

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