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 Balram is a kind of genius, figuring out how to game a complex system, thousands of years old, that’s stacked against him; his opportunism is a survival mechanism. Stephanie Zacharek, Time, "The White Tiger Is a Complex Crime Drama with a Dazzling Performance at Its Center," 22 Jan. 2021 In Ukraine, American assistance was welcomed not just by aspiring democrats but by political forces that wanted to move Ukraine away from Russia for reasons of nationalism or of personal opportunism. Michael Kimmage, The New Republic, "How Biden Can Achieve a Russian Restoration," 26 Jan. 2021 In the same Axios/Ipsos poll, Romney, who after the siege called for truth-telling and appeared to knock Hawley for opportunism, fared even worse than Hawley. Washington Post, "What does Josh Hawley think he’s doing?," 17 Jan. 2021 Unfortunately, there is no such inoculation against political opportunism — which is exactly what those who criticize politicians for getting the vaccine are engaging in. Robert A. George And Bloomberg Opinion, Star Tribune, "On jumping in the vaccine line, give politicians a break," 29 Dec. 2020 But the pivot was driven by opportunism as much as altruism. Ed Yong, The Atlantic, "How Science Beat the Virus," 17 Dec. 2020 About half of them are under investigation for corruption and other crimes, and many in the country have blamed their political opportunism for the current turmoil. Mitra Taj, New York Times, "Peru’s President Steps Down After Just 6 Days, Leaving Country Adrift," 15 Nov. 2020 Biden’s return to the White House after eight years as vice president in the Obama administration would see a reinvigoration of the U.S.’s traditional alliances and fewer avenues for geopolitical opportunism. Washington Post, "Trump’s defeat is a blow for the world’s demagogues and dictators," 10 Nov. 2020 During his first run at a congressional seat, a decade earlier, Glenn had faced criticism about his political inexperience and apparent opportunism. Marina Koren, The Atlantic, "Mark Kelly Played the Astronaut Card," 6 Nov. 2020

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

28 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Opportunism.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/opportunism. Accessed 4 Mar. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLA Chicago APA Merriam-Webster

More from Merriam-Webster on opportunism

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for 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).


Test Your Vocabulary

February 2021 Words of the Day Quiz

  • squirrel in winter
  • Which is a synonym of perdure?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!


Anagram puzzles meet word search.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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