pac·​i·​fism | \ ˈpa-sə-ˌfi-zəm How to pronounce pacifism (audio) \

Definition of pacifism

1 : opposition to war or violence as a means of settling disputes specifically : refusal to bear arms on moral or religious grounds For Quakers pacifism is a major tenet of belief.
2 : an attitude or policy of nonresistance efforts toward pacifism and civil rights

Examples of pacifism in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Germany increased its defense budget despite a long stance of pacifism after World War II. Phil Mccausland, NBC news, 9 May 2022 The polls say sending heavy weapons to Ukraine also enjoys support with a German public shaken (for now) out of its traditional pacifism by Mr. Putin’s invasion. The Editorial Board, WSJ, 25 Apr. 2022 Despite Germany’s participation in armed operations in Afghanistan, Africa and elsewhere, the Social Democrats have a long tradition of pacifism and maintaining friendly relations with Russia. Bojan Pancevski, WSJ, 26 Apr. 2022 Three women are overseeing Germany’s response to the war in Ukraine, which is a major foreign policy shift for the country after decades of post-World War II pacifism. Rachel Lobdell, Fortune, 30 Mar. 2022 Ono’s pacifism has never been flown in for the occasion, like a tearful Oscar’s speech. Washington Post, 16 Mar. 2022 The Germans recently announced a military buildup after years of embracing pacifism. Washington Post, 8 Mar. 2022 Germany — which embraced pacifism in the wake of World War II — dropped its long resistance to sending arms to conflict zones and has dispatched weapons to Ukraine. Washington Post, 4 Mar. 2022 Viewing war can deepen our empathy, lead to greater aid and philanthropy and encourage pacifism. Nicole Hemmer, CNN, 25 Feb. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'pacifism.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of pacifism

1902, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for pacifism

French pacifisme, from pacifique pacific

Learn More About pacifism

Time Traveler for pacifism

Time Traveler

The first known use of pacifism was in 1902

See more words from the same year

Dictionary Entries Near pacifism




See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for pacifism

Last Updated

18 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Pacifism.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 May. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon


Test Your Vocabulary

Great Words for Scrabble

  • scrabble tiles that read scrabble quiz
  • Which of the following Q-without-U words means the number five in cards or dice?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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