mod·​ern·​ism | \ ˈmä-dər-ˌni-zəm How to pronounce modernism (audio) \

Definition of modernism

1 : a practice, usage, or expression peculiar to modern times such modernisms as "blog," "bromance," and "steampunk"
2 often capitalized : a tendency in theology to accommodate traditional religious teaching to contemporary thought and especially to devalue supernatural elements
3 : modern artistic or literary philosophy and practice especially : a self-conscious break with the past and a search for new forms of expression extols the … modernism that laid the foundation of all twentieth-century design — Jeffrey Simpson

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Other Words from modernism

modernist \ ˈmä-​dər-​nist How to pronounce modernist (audio) \ noun or adjective
modernistic \ ˌmä-​dər-​ˈni-​stik How to pronounce modernistic (audio) \ adjective

Examples of modernism in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The show’s ten sections outline moments of great change for the museum, from its earliest decades to its role in World War II and sometimes-reluctant embrace of modernism in the 20th century. Nora Mcgreevy, Smithsonian Magazine, "Celebrating 150 Years of the Metropolitan Museum of Art," 10 Nov. 2020 But, of course, modernism itself remained open to charges of gimmickry, and not only from reactionaries. Merve Emre, The New Yorker, "Our Love-Hate Relationship with Gimmicks," 9 Nov. 2020 These bards of the trenches cleared the way, in a sense, for the modernism of T.S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, James Joyce, and, not least, Woolf herself. Karl Taro Greenfeld, Town & Country, "Are We the Next Lost Generation?," 6 Oct. 2020 Jerald Cooper is the founder of Hood Century, an editorial brand focusing on the history of midcentury modernism in BIPOC neighborhoods across the country. Jerald Cooper, ELLE Decor, "Cincinnati Rising," 19 Oct. 2020 The glamorization of modernism owed much to the aura of Allied triumph in the Second World War, which established so many other parameters of national amity that have lately, and rapidly, been crumbling. Peter Schjeldahl, The New Yorker, "Philip Guston and the Boundaries of Art Culture," 12 Oct. 2020 As a result of a compromise the developers struck with federal and state officials, crenelated stainless steel panels from the old Morton Salt building are woven into river-level exterior walls, retaining a trace of mid-20th century modernism. Blair Kamin,, "Column: City’s tallest office building in 30 years opens along Chicago River, mixing drama and banality," 9 Oct. 2020 There are photographs of Milan’s Villa Necchi, built by Piero Portaluppi in the ‘30s, which command the page with hefty Italiano modernism. Lilah Ramzi, Vogue, "The Photography Book Taking a Trip Around the World’s Most Charismatic Homes," 8 Oct. 2020 The hotel — completed in 1948 and now mostly vacant, according to the trust — is an early work of modernism in the U.S. and was designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill of Chicago. Blair Kamin,, "Column: Chicago church where thousands viewed Emmett Till’s open casket is named to list of nation’s most endangered places," 24 Sep. 2020

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

1737, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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The first known use of modernism was in 1737

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Last Updated

15 Nov 2020

Cite this Entry

“Modernism.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Dec. 2020.

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How to pronounce modernism (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of modernism

: a style of art, architecture, literature, etc., that uses ideas and methods which are very different from those used in the past

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