plu·​ral·​ism | \ˈplu̇r-ə-ˌli-zəm \

Definition of pluralism 

1 : the holding of two or more offices or positions (such as benefices) at the same time

2 : the quality or state of being plural

3a : a theory that there are more than one or more than two kinds of ultimate reality

b : a theory that reality is composed of a plurality of entities

4a : a state of society in which members of diverse ethnic, racial, religious, or social groups maintain and develop their traditional culture or special interest within the confines of a common civilization

b : a concept, doctrine, or policy advocating this state

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Other Words from pluralism

pluralist \ˈplu̇r-​ə-​list \ adjective or noun
pluralistic \ˌplu̇r-​ə-​ˈli-​stik \ adjective
pluralistically \ˌplu̇r-​ə-​ˈli-​sti-​k(ə-​)lē \ adverb

Examples of pluralism in a Sentence

He spoke of the benefits of cultural pluralism. She's a champion of pluralism.

Recent Examples on the Web

The fact is that the Muslim Brotherhood is a moderate Islamist movement that accepts political pluralism and receives great harm from terrorist movements. Hollie Mckay, Fox News, "Syrian Muslim Brotherhood revives amid ongoing civil war, lashes out at the U.S. and Israel," 9 July 2018 Kennedy’s pragmatic libertarianism — his belief in limited government, pluralism, moderation, and social cohesion — didn’t fit into either of our two political tribes’ worldview. Andrew Sullivan, Daily Intelligencer, "Anthony Kennedy and the Death of True American Conservatism," 29 June 2018 In other words, America’s tolerant pluralism must be replaced by a fear-mongering populism that supports the rights of the few against those who look different. Trudy Rubin,, "U.S. withdrawal from U.N. Human Rights Council reflects Trump hypocrisy | Trudy Rubin," 20 June 2018 By spending without reform and ruling out pluralism, Theresa May is out of step with a majority of voters. Rupert Darwall, WSJ, "Reform the NHS Before It Kills Again," 4 July 2018 Folks who hold one vision for our nation embrace this pluralism forecast decades ago. Fred Niedner, Post-Tribune, "Niedner: Recommitting to our founding values crucial to future," 6 July 2018 These beliefs are now recognized as objectionable; they’ve been replaced, ostensibly, by an acceptance of pluralism and diversity — though not a deep commitment to integration. New York Times, "White People Are Noticing Something New: Their Own Whiteness," 13 June 2018 The underlying argument Himmelfarb made was that American pluralism is a zero-sum game, so if blacks rise, Jews must suffer. Jeet Heer, The New Republic, "Commentary Magazine’s ‘Negro Problem’," 15 June 2018 And not all threats to pluralism are of the same order. The Economist, "Lessons from the rise of strongmen in weak states," 14 June 2018

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

1772, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for pluralism

The first known use of pluralism was in 1772

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English Language Learners Definition of pluralism

: a situation in which people of different social classes, religions, races, etc., are together in a society but continue to have their different traditions and interests

: the belief that people of different social classes, religions, races, etc., should live together in a society

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More from Merriam-Webster on pluralism

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with pluralism

Britannica English: Translation of pluralism for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about pluralism

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the figure or shape of a crescent moon

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