op·​por·​tun·​ism | \ ˌä-pər-ˈtü-ˌni-zəm How to pronounce opportunism (audio) , -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 The result is just a really unhelpful distraction that smacks of opportunism. Megan Molteni, Wired, "Snakes?! The Slippery Truth of a Flawed Wuhan Virus Theory," 23 Jan. 2020 In fact, the state’s disregard for the water sector is so pronounced that the poor quality of tanker water is as much a consequence of shoddy or nonexistent regulation as opportunism. Peter Schwartzstein, New York Times, "The Merchants of Thirst," 11 Jan. 2020 To his critics, though, the motivation behind his recent shift appears to be the same as the one that helped Austria’s far right gain power: opportunism. Washington Post, "Sebastian Kurz is poised to become the world’s youngest government leader — for the second time," 2 Jan. 2020 Cato represented the disappearing virtues of the republican citizen-soldier that were giving way to the opportunism and avarice of Caesar and his professional soldiers more loyal to him than the dying republic. Steele Brand, Time, "What Ancient Rome and Greece Can Teach Us About the Modern American Military," 20 Sep. 2019 When Katy Seven Lakes was afforded one final reprieve Tuesday afternoon, Lady Spartan guard Cailyn Tucker quickly became the designee for opportunism. Ted Dunnam, Houston Chronicle, "Girls’ basketball: Tucker’s buzzer-beater sends Seven Lakes past Clear Lake," 31 Dec. 2019 Stern, 55, billed himself as a community activist and minister, though his do-gooder credentials were accompanied by a history of criminal opportunism. Katie Mettler, Washington Post, "A black activist convinced a neo-Nazi he’d save him from legal ruin. Then the real plan began.," 30 Oct. 2019 These engagements reflect the defining theme of Russia’s Africa policy: opportunism. The Economist, "Vladimir Putin flaunts Russia’s increasing influence in Africa," 24 Oct. 2019 Scholars say there was an element of economic opportunism behind the strikes of the 1950s and ’60s, as unions exploited their bargaining power in tight labor markets. Noam Scheiber, New York Times, "In a Strong Economy, Why Are So Many Workers on Strike?," 19 Oct. 2019

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.

See More

First Known Use of opportunism

1870, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for opportunism

opportune + -ism, after Italian opportunismo and French opportunisme

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about opportunism

Time Traveler for opportunism

Time Traveler

The first known use of opportunism was in 1870

See more words from the same year

Statistics for opportunism

Last Updated

16 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Opportunism.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/opportunism. Accessed 23 Feb. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on opportunism

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with opportunism

Spanish Central: Translation of opportunism

Nglish: Translation of opportunism for Spanish Speakers

Comments on opportunism

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


See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

More Confusing Words—Quiz

  • cats on impossible timber
  • The magician ______ moved the selected card to the top of the deck.
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Syn City

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!