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


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variants or pacifistic
: of, relating to, or characteristic of pacifism or pacifists
distributing pacifist literature
: strongly and actively opposed to conflict and especially war
pacifist beliefs
pacifistically adverb

Examples of pacifist in a Sentence

Noun a committed pacifist, Gandhi succeeded in bringing about Indian independence using only nonviolence Adjective the newspaper's editorial board has clearly staked out a pacifist position on the current conflict
Recent Examples on the Web
Robertson, a Milwaukee philanthropist who is 108 years old, started the program in 2016 in memory of her late mother, Roberts, a pacifist and suffragette. Sophie Carson, Journal Sentinel, 12 Apr. 2024 As a young revolutionary during the 1896 fight against Spain and then as a soldier fighting against the Americans, Tomas had witnessed the effects of violence on people and become a pacifist. Naman Ramachandran, Variety, 12 Mar. 2024 The ideological conflict between Xavier and Magneto has often been distilled down to one similar to that of Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X, with Xavier being a pacifist and Magneto being aggressive and dictatorial. Ken Makin, The Christian Science Monitor, 26 Mar. 2024 In the twenties and thirties, the Armistice became a frequent occasion for antiwar protests, by war widows, pacifists, and veterans who felt that the day’s rituals had become too martial and celebratory. Sam Knight, The New Yorker, 15 Nov. 2023 Grace Kelly portrait, circa 1950 After appearing as pacifist Amy Fowler Kane in 1952's High Noon, Kelly earned her first Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress for her work in Mogambo, starring opposite Clark Gable. Erin Hill, Peoplemag, 8 Nov. 2023 Past detained people to receive the Nobel Peace Prize include German pacifist Carl von Ossietzky in 1935, Myanmar democracy campaigner Aung San Suu Kyi in 1991, Chinese rights activist Liu Xiaobo in 2010 and one of last year’s winners, Belarusian human rights advocate Ales Bialiatski. Adela Suliman, Washington Post, 6 Oct. 2023 Ramer, a redhead with a mustache, is descended from Mennonite pacifists on both sides of his family. Andrew Marantz, The New Yorker, 2 Nov. 2023 But the woman behind the series, a Finnish-Swedish lesbian artist and ardent pacifist, who lived with her partner for half the year on an island, is far less well known. Nina Siegal, New York Times, 12 Oct. 2023
Naomi Osaka might lead a pacifist lifestyle, but that hasn’t stopped her from indulging in the spicy Drake and Kendrick Lamar feud as a fan of the genre. Michael Saponara, Billboard, 9 May 2024 That’s a cool idea for increasing variety, like a pacifist roguelike. PCMAG, 30 Apr. 2024 Sinclair was identified as a member of the pacifist group. Robert Cotter, Detroit Free Press, 14 Apr. 2024 The film is based on the life of pacifist Deitrich Bonhoeffer, who preached love while plotting the assassination of an evil tyrant. Pamela McClintock, The Hollywood Reporter, 10 Apr. 2024 His father was there as a railroad company dentist, but his growing sympathy for the plight of the Chinese and his involvement with a pacifist organization led to conflicts. Tim Page, Washington Post, 9 Feb. 2024 The move is another sign that Japan, a pacifist nation since the end of World War II, is taking on a larger global security role. Motoko Rich, New York Times, 21 Dec. 2023 Based in part on the life of its screenwriter Mykola Voronin, Sniper tells the story of a pacifist physics teacher who becomes a sniper during the 2014 conflict in Ukraine’s Donbas region, avenging the death of his pregnant wife. Sabiha Çimen, Harper's Magazine, 15 Feb. 2024 Her partner composes and plays Volga dub, a kind of Russian reggae—the soundtrack of the pacifist pirates of the river. Elettra Pauletto, Harper's Magazine, 11 Dec. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'pacifist.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use


1898, in the meaning defined above


1908, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of pacifist was in 1898

Dictionary Entries Near pacifist

Cite this Entry

“Pacifist.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 May. 2024.

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