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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from pacifist


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

Synonyms & Antonyms for pacifist

Synonyms: Adjective

dovish, pacific, peaceable, peaceful

Antonyms: Adjective

bloodthirsty, hawkish, martial, warlike

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of pacifist in a Sentence


the newspaper's editorial board has clearly staked out a pacifist position on the current conflict

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Japan, whose use of force is limited to self-defense of itself and its allies under its pacifist constitution, is cautious about a military coalition. CBS News, "John Bolton meets Japanese officials to discuss Iran, South Korea," 22 July 2019 Abe has set a deadline of 2020 to revise Japan's pacifist post-WWII constitution, which contains language that bans the country from maintaining armed forces. James Griffiths, CNN, "Japan election: Surge of women candidates could reshape male-dominated parliament," 18 July 2019 Because of Buddhism’s pacifist image — swirls of calming incense and beatific smiles — the faith is not often associated with sectarian aggression. Hannah Beech, New York Times, "‘Our Duty to Fight’: The Rise of Militant Buddhism," 8 July 2019 Many young people, in particular those belonging to pacifist religious groups like Jehovah’s Witnesses, grow up knowing that prison time is inevitable at some point in their life. Binaifer Nowrojee, Time, "Don't Forget the Dark Side of Living in South Korea," 11 June 2018 The contrast with Abe captured media attention, with the prime minister portrayed as a nationalist pushing for a stronger military versus a pacifist Akihito. Fox News, "Japanese emperor tries to make amends for his father's war," 15 Aug. 2018 The pacifist outlook culminated in the 1928 Kellogg-Briand Pact. Joseph Loconte, WSJ, "What World War I Taught the Clergy," 8 Nov. 2018 Under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Japan has stepped up its own show of military force, and Mr. Abe has sought to revise the pacifist clause in the country’s Constitution. New York Times, "Trump’s Talk of U.S. Troop Cuts Unnerves South Korea and Japan," 4 May 2018 But Wood House Army’s Spring 2019 collection takes a distinctly pacifist approach to the troubles plaguing our contemporary world, positing enlightenment and self actualization over a political agenda. Steff Yotka, Vogue, "A Designer With a Military Past Looks for Peace," 11 July 2018

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.

See More

First Known Use of pacifist


1898, in the meaning defined above


1908, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about pacifist

Dictionary Entries near pacifist






Pacinian corpuscle


Statistics for pacifist

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for pacifist

The first known use of pacifist was in 1898

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for pacifist



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

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on pacifist

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for pacifist

Spanish Central: Translation of pacifist

Nglish: Translation of pacifist for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of pacifist for Arabic Speakers

Comments on pacifist

What made you want to look up pacifist? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a wrong name or inappropriate designation

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Summer 2019 Words of the Day Quiz

  • a-bowl-of-peach-sorbet-with-cut-peaches-next-to-it
  • Which is a synonym of desideratum?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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