pac·​i·​fist | \ ˈpa-sə-fist How to pronounce pacifist (audio) \
plural pacifists

Definition of pacifist

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: an adherent to pacifism : someone who opposes war or violence as a means of settling disputes … the attack inflamed the American public and turned isolationists and pacifists into gung-ho patriots hot for revenge.— Evan Thomas Not every woman will or should be a pacifist; and to advance in the Senate and into the White House, women will have to convince the voters that they're prepared to go to war.— Wendy Kaminer


variants: or pacifistic \ ˌpa-​sə-​ˈfi-​stik How to pronounce pacifistic (audio) \

Definition of pacifist (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : of, relating to, or characteristic of pacifism or pacifists distributing pacifist literature
2 : strongly and actively opposed to conflict and especially war pacifist beliefs

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Other Words from pacifist


pacifistically \ ˌpa-​sə-​ˈfi-​sti-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce pacifistically (audio) \ adverb

Synonyms & Antonyms for pacifist

Synonyms: Adjective

Antonyms: Adjective

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Examples of pacifist in a Sentence

Adjective the newspaper's editorial board has clearly staked out a pacifist position on the current conflict
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective The conscientious objector status has historically been reserved to adherents of pacifist religions. Dwight Stirling, The Conversation, "Why soldiers can’t claim conscientious objection if ordered to suppress protests," 30 June 2020 And his chief scientist, Dr. Adrian Mallory (Malkovich), has a pacifist bent not entirely suited to a military branch. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "Failure is not an option in latest Space Force trailer," 19 May 2020 Catherine, conversely, reads Descartes and Voltaire; is steadfastly pacifist; and treats her domestic serf, the foul-mouthed Marial (Phoebe Fox), with the same regard as a lady-in-waiting. Jennifer Wilson, The New Republic, "The Great’s Empowerment Problem," 15 May 2020 Unlike previous leaders of the Brand Davidians, Koresh was not a pacifist and began stockpiling arms. Tanya Edwards,, "Waco On Netflix Is Based A Tragic, Real Showdown Between The FBI & A Cult," 20 Apr. 2020 Obayashi stayed stubbornly true to his core pacifist message through more than 40 movies and thousands of TV shows, commercials and other video. Rasha Ali, USA TODAY, "Japanese filmmaker Nobuhiko Obayashi dies at 82," 11 Apr. 2020 His pacifist beliefs were reinforced by his father, an army doctor, who also gave him his first 8-millimeter camera. Rasha Ali, USA TODAY, "Japanese filmmaker Nobuhiko Obayashi dies at 82," 11 Apr. 2020 True believers in the social-justice, fairness and pacifist message of Sen. Sanders relish his authenticity and decadeslong commitment to the cause. WSJ, "Bernie, 78-Year-Old Pied Piper of the Young," 21 Feb. 2020 Rustin traveled to India in 1948 to learn more about pacifist ideas and helped introduce those teachings to King. Harmeet Kaur, CNN, "Bayard Rustin, a gay civil rights leader arrested for having sex with men, is pardoned 67 years later," 5 Feb. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'pacifist.' 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 pacifist


1898, in the meaning defined above


1908, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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The first known use of pacifist was in 1898

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Cite this Entry

“Pacifist.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 11 Aug. 2020.

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How to pronounce pacifist (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of pacifist

: someone who believes that war and violence are wrong and who refuses to participate in or support a war

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