op·​por·​tun·​ism | \ˌä-pər-ˈtü-ˌni-zəm, -ˈtyü-\

Definition of opportunism 

: the art, policy, or practice of taking advantage of opportunities or circumstances often with little regard for principles or consequences

Examples of opportunism in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

This axis of opportunism allowed the U.S. and Kurds to roll up ISIS in Syria’s northeast while the axis focused on wiping out opposition strongholds. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "Trump’s Syria Moment," 4 Sep. 2018 Mr Rajoy accused his foe of naked opportunism, and of trying to govern against the wishes of Spaniards who had soundly rejected Mr Sánchez at elections in 2015 and again in 2016. The Economist, "Spain prepares to dump its prime minister," 31 May 2018 Other commentators see Moscow’s gambit, born of opportunism and executed ruthlessly, as a masterstroke. Ishaan Tharoor, Washington Post, "Russia stays in the driver’s seat in Syria," 10 July 2018 Sometimes there’s an unavoidable whiff of opportunism in the air. Nell Beram, New York Times, "Bob Dylan and Will Smith: Children’s Authors?," 2 July 2018 While resentment over Russia’s diminished stature is a key motivator of Mr. Putin’s behavior, so far Russia’s decision-making has been driven largely by opportunism rather than by a grandiose civilizational shift. Yaroslav Trofimov, WSJ, "Russia’s Turn to Its Asian Past," 6 July 2018 European governments cannot make up their minds whether Mr. Trump’s assault on multilateralism is driven by ideology, opportunism or ignorance. Simon Nixon, WSJ, "As Trump Arrives, Europe Frets Over His Designs on Postwar Global Order," 10 July 2018 McDaniel’s objection to Weinstein was probably sincere — most people’s objections to the allegations were — but the demand that the DNC give back its money was just opportunism. Philip Bump, Washington Post, "Partisanship means never having to say you're sorry," 9 Feb. 2018 For the Phillies, the operating policy should continue to be restrained opportunism. David Murphy, Philly.com, "Phillies' best trade policy is still restrained opportunism | David Murphy," 27 June 2018

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

1870, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for opportunism

opportune + -ism, after Italian opportunismo and French opportunisme

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Last Updated

7 Dec 2018

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Time Traveler for opportunism

The first known use of opportunism was in 1870

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Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with opportunism

Spanish Central: Translation of opportunism

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


a knickknack or trinket

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