pa·​ter·​nal·​ism | \ pə-ˈtər-nə-ˌli-zəm How to pronounce paternalism (audio) \

Definition of paternalism

1 : a system under which an authority undertakes to supply needs or regulate conduct of those under its control in matters affecting them as individuals as well as in their relations to authority and to each other the empire's paternalism in regard to its colonies
2 : a policy or practice based on or characteristic of paternalism

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Other Words from paternalism

paternalist \ pə-​ˈtər-​nə-​list How to pronounce paternalist (audio) \ noun or adjective
paternalistic \ pə-​ˌtər-​nə-​ˈli-​stik How to pronounce paternalistic (audio) \ adjective
paternalistically \ pə-​ˌtər-​nə-​ˈli-​sti-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce paternalistically (audio) \ adverb

Examples of paternalism in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Its governing philosophy, reaching back to the Whigs of the 18th century, rested on the idea of aristocratic paternalism, with gentlemen from the great families ruling in the public interest. William Anthony Hay, WSJ, "‘Lansdowne’ Review: Noble Aspirations," 26 Dec. 2018 This isn’t strictly out of paternalism (although there are elements of that). Rob Reid, Ars Technica, "Ars on your lunch break: The toxic truths within our DNA," 18 July 2018 So this is not about white paternalism, this is about African-American agency. Lorraine Boissoneault, Smithsonian, "The Unheralded Pioneers of 19th-Century America Were Free African-American Families," 19 June 2018 Jim Harbaugh means well, but his plan smacks of paternalism and delayed gratification. Tim Sullivan, The Courier-Journal, "Michigan coach's athlete payment plan to invest in stocks has its holes," 12 May 2018 The women of Olivia were revolutionary for completely sidestepping entertainment industry paternalism. Bonnie J. Morris, Smithsonian, "How Should We Archive the Soundtrack to 1970s Feminism?," 30 Mar. 2018 His regal paternalism is intended to suggest that an earlier order has been restored after decades of horrors, from American bombing in the early 1970s to the civil war of the 1980s, not to mention the Khmers Rouges’ grotesque Year Zero. The Economist, "Hun Sen, Cambodia’s ruler, has been in power too long," 22 Mar. 2018 Their romance is a study of love and difference, of how pity and paternalism can stifle true communication. Andy Borowitz, The New Yorker, "A Deaf Romance on Broadway in “Children of a Lesser God”," 15 Mar. 2018 Death Wish’s central character Paul Kersey (Charles Bronson) was a cathartic figure, a symbol of paternalism and masculine strength as a way to enforce justice for crime and social unrest. Dana Schwartz,, "Death Wish director Eli Roth responds to critics of controversial remake," 5 Mar. 2018

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

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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The first known use of paternalism was in the 15th century

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English Language Learners Definition of paternalism

usually disapproving : the attitude or actions of a person, organization, etc., that protects people and gives them what they need but does not give them any responsibility or freedom of choice

More from Merriam-Webster on paternalism

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with paternalism Encyclopedia article about paternalism

Comments on paternalism

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


incapable of being surmounted or overcome

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