prim·​i·​tiv·​ism ˈpri-mə-ti-ˌvi-zəm How to pronounce primitivism (audio)
: primitive practices or procedures
also : a primitive quality or state
: belief in the superiority of a simple way of life close to nature
: belief in the superiority of nonindustrial society to that of the present
: the style of art of primitive peoples or primitive artists
primitivist noun or adjective
primitivistic adjective

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web Its earthy primitivism, with lurching rhythms, barbaric yawps and garish shrieks, is news that has stayed news, to borrow Ezra Pound’s phrase. Scott Cantrell, Dallas News, 21 Apr. 2023 Many of the clubs, like the Cotton Club and the Ubangi Club, had names that smacked of primitivism. Dr. Cookie Woolner, Harper's BAZAAR, 28 Mar. 2023 Not surprisingly, the aesthetic Adams fashioned in this austere crucible prizes the elemental in music, but does so without retreating into a cave of unthinking primitivism. Jeremy Eichler,, 12 July 2015 Parkipuny reclaimed the imagery of primitivism using the language of indigeneity. Manvir Singh, The New Yorker, 20 Feb. 2023 There are many schools of anarchism, most only partly reconcilable with the others: anarcho-syndicalism, anarcho-communism, primitivism, cooperativism, and so on. Alan Jacobs, Harper’s Magazine , 9 Nov. 2022 Lacking Pippin’s political edge, primitivism and variety, Kane’s more conventional pictures, though sometimes fussy with details, consistently achieve more spatial clarity and light. Lance Esplund, WSJ, 17 Aug. 2022 What attracts them is the primitivism, redeemed by charm. Dan Neil, WSJ, 6 Jan. 2022 What attracts them all is the formula’s stubborn, sentimental primitivism, redeemed by charm. Dan Neil, WSJ, 6 Jan. 2022 See More

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

Word History


primitive entry 1 + -ism

First Known Use

1861, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of primitivism was in 1861

Dictionary Entries Near primitivism

Cite this Entry

“Primitivism.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Jun. 2023.

More from Merriam-Webster on primitivism

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