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 pacifist (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 pacifist (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 In its only other stint in federal power — as a junior coalition partner between 1998 and 2005 — the Green party struggled with a backlash from its pacifist base after its foreign minister, Joschka Fischer, backed sending German troops to Kosovo. Washington Post, 13 May 2021 At their formation back in 1980, the West German Greens were much like the Green parties that dot the global political landscape today: strongly environmentalist and pacifist, pro-cannabis and anti-nuclear. David Meyer, Fortune, 19 Apr. 2021 Under the direction of J. Edgar Hoover, the F.B.I.’s COINTELPRO initiative targeted the more pacifist wing of the civil-rights movement. Jelani Cobb, The New Yorker, 21 Feb. 2021 The shift challenged churchmen to reconcile Jesus’ largely pacifist message with the desire to justify a savage war in Christian terms. Fergus M. Bordewich, WSJ, 15 Jan. 2021 After years of opposing King's pacifist methods towards civil rights, X offers to aid the work of the SCLC by moving the needle so far left that white people would have no choice but to meet King somewhere in the middle as allies. Ineye Komonibo,, 17 Jan. 2021 Limited by its pacifist constitution, Japan relies heavily on the U.S. for nuclear deterrence, but has often come under pressure to do more for its own defense. Isabel Reynolds,, 21 Dec. 2020 The buildup is politically sensitive because of Japan’s pacifist tradition in the postwar era and its constitutional prohibition on possessing war potential. Chieko Tsuneoka, WSJ, 9 Dec. 2020 The coup against the state could be read as an anticolonial revolution, but the alt-right interprets it as a nationalist putsch against a pacifist state. Shaan Amin, The New Republic, 16 Nov. 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 27 Jul. 2021.

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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

More from Merriam-Webster on pacifist

Nglish: Translation of pacifist for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of pacifist for Arabic Speakers


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