prim·​i·​tiv·​ism | \ ˈpri-mə-ti-ˌvi-zəm How to pronounce primitivism (audio) \

Definition of primitivism

1 : primitive practices or procedures also : a primitive quality or state
2a : belief in the superiority of a simple way of life close to nature
b : belief in the superiority of nonindustrial society to that of the present
3 : the style of art of primitive peoples or primitive artists

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from primitivism

primitivist \ ˈpri-​mə-​ti-​vist How to pronounce primitivism (audio) \ noun or adjective
primitivistic \ ˌpri-​mə-​ti-​ˈvi-​stik How to pronounce primitivism (audio) \ adjective

Examples of primitivism in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web But the argument that a billionaire’s billions are a self-evident credential for national leadership is modern primitivism at its purest. Kevin D. Williamson, National Review, "Don’t Run a Government Like a Business," 15 Oct. 2019 Some, inspired by Netflix’s recent thriller about Ted Kaczynski, have embraced the Unabomber’s nihilist primitivism. Sam Adler-bell, The New Republic, "Why White Supremacists Are Hooked on Green Living," 24 Sep. 2019 The Marquesas, Tahiti and Hawaii all offer a foretaste of Gauguin’s late 19th-century Romantic primitivism, but without his depth of passion. Willard Spiegelman, WSJ, "Sailing the Globe in a Gallery," 3 Aug. 2018 The wide selection of Nadelman items alone — perhaps the peak of Kirstein’s often erratic taste in the visual arts — is worth the visit to this gathering: modernism meets primitivism meets classicism. Alastair Macaulay, New York Times, "Review: ‘Transmissions’ Evokes a Climate (Poetic, With a Chance of Ballet)," 26 Mar. 2018 An instruction on joining us in our vision for the future, a return to primitivism. Megan Armstrong, Billboard, "Cody Simpson & The Tide Make a Wavy Debut With 'Waiting For The Tide' Video: Premiere," 25 Oct. 2017 Can looked back to psychedelia and forward to punk primitivism and the steadiness of dance music Jon Pareles, New York Times, "Blasts From the Past From the Rolling Stones, D’Angelo, Neil Young and Can," 15 Sep. 2017 The Left has contempt for nationalism, seeing in it intellectual and moral primitivism at best, and the road to fascism at worst. Dennis Prager, National Review, "Leftism Is Not Liberalism," 12 Sep. 2017 Sonic Youth fans will be pleased to hear the elements of scuzz noise and high-art primitivism of that band injected into attitudinal riffs with sing-along charm of Talon's song. John Adamian,, "Grunge Pop Group Kino Kimino At Cafe Nine," 30 Aug. 2017

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

1861, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for primitivism

primitive entry 1 + -ism

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about primitivism

Time Traveler for primitivism

Time Traveler

The first known use of primitivism was in 1861

See more words from the same year

Statistics for primitivism

Cite this Entry

“Primitivism.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Jan. 2021.

More from Merriam-Webster on primitivism

Britannica English: Translation of primitivism for Arabic Speakers

Comments on primitivism

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


Test Your Vocabulary

Words of Snow and Ice Quiz

  • image1037863653
  • Which of the following refers to thin, bending ice, or to the act of running over such ice?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.


Anagram puzzles meet word search.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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