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 Another approach is pacifism, which, for all its merits, asks us to condemn both the tyrant and those violently resisting tyranny. Anand Gopal, The New Yorker, "America’s War on Syrian Civilians," 14 Dec. 2020 Anabaptists stressed the separation of church and state, voluntary church membership by adult baptism, pacifism, and isolation from worldly corruption. Paula Wolf, National Geographic, "Fixated on Pennsylvania? Consider an Amish farm stay," 10 Nov. 2020 Mandalore was among the Outer Rim planets that initially chose to stay neutral during the Clone Wars because its ruler at the time, Duchess Satine of House Kryze, was committed to pacifism. Los Angeles Times, "‘The Mandalorian’ is back. This guide to ‘Star Wars’ lore will help you follow it," 29 Oct. 2020 But this quaint picture of Chinese pacifism ignores that the country’s dynasties were almost constantly at war. Michael Schuman, The Atlantic, "The Future of Chinese Power," 5 Oct. 2020 Abe has long pursued a campaign to move Japan beyond its postwar pacifism. Motoko Rich,, "Japanese politicians mark war anniversary at contentious shrine," 15 Aug. 2020 Weber, for years, had dismissed both pacifism and revolution as naive. George Blaustein, The New Republic, "Searching for Consolation in Max Weber’s Work Ethic," 2 July 2020 For example, while Spencer’s ideas were used to justify imperialism and conquest, Francis notes that Spencer himself was committed to pacifism, including his vocal opposition to Britain’s participation in the Boer War. Dan Falk, Smithsonian Magazine, "The Complicated Legacy of Herbert Spencer, the Man Who Coined ‘Survival of the Fittest’," 29 Apr. 2020 Akihito reigned for 30 years and gained widespread respect and sympathy as a politically neutral symbol of the nation and for his dedication to pacifism. Washington Post, "Japan’s former Emperor Akihito better day after fainting," 30 Jan. 2020

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.

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First Known Use of pacifism

1902, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for pacifism

French pacifisme, from pacifique pacific

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Time Traveler for pacifism

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The first known use of pacifism was in 1902

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Cite this Entry

“Pacifism.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Mar. 2021.

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English Language Learners Definition of pacifism

: the belief that it is wrong to use war or violence to settle disputes

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