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 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 The shady 34-acre campus shared the same values as his parents: diversity, tolerance and pacifism. Michael E. Miller, Washington Post, "Hunting black men to start a ‘race war’," 27 Dec. 2019 The underlying problem is that Germany’s political establishment and public opinion are tempted by a foreign policy rooted in pacifism, commercialism, anti-Americanism — and a complacent doubt that NATO is any longer necessary. The Editors, National Review, "NATO Is Still Essential," 4 Dec. 2019 His pacifism was reinforced early by his father, who was an army doctor. Washington Post, "Obayashi’s 40-film career defined by warning of war’s horror," 28 Oct. 2019 But Japanese people are proud of their pacifism and keen to stay out of other countries’ affairs. The Economist, "Can Shinzo Abe change Japan’s basic law?," 10 Aug. 2019 In many parts of the country, the Labour leader’s original sin is neither his socialism nor the allegations of anti-Semitism that plague his party, but his pacifism. Samuel Earle, The New Republic, "The White Cliffs of Brexit," 22 Oct. 2019 But such pacifism may be fading following Tuesday’s confrontation and the Monday slaughter of 13 state police officers in the western state of Michoacan by cartel gunmen. Washington Post, "Mexican court orders soldiers re-arrested in army massacre," 17 Oct. 2019 Two noxious events in the past two months—a poisoning in Salisbury and a chemical attack in Syria—have given a vivid sense of what Mr Corbyn’s quasi-pacifism means in practice. The Economist, "Jeremy Corbyn’s pacifist illusion," 19 Apr. 2018

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

Time Traveler

The first known use of pacifism was in 1902

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Statistics for pacifism

Last Updated

7 Apr 2020

Cite this Entry

“Pacifism.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 9 Apr. 2020.

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How to pronounce pacifism (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of pacifism

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

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Spanish Central: Translation of pacifism

Nglish: Translation of pacifism for Spanish Speakers Encyclopedia article about pacifism

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