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

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 What attracts them all is the formula’s stubborn, sentimental primitivism, redeemed by charm. Dan Neil, WSJ, 6 Jan. 2022 Rather than a defense of chest-beating primitivism, the conclusion emphasizes the risks of male self-assertion untethered from purpose and responsibility. Samuel Goldman, The Week, 3 Nov. 2021 As outlandish as Luhan may sound, neither her primitivism nor her spiritualism was particularly unusual in her time. Rebecca Panovka, The New Yorker, 2 June 2021 Fringe beliefs such as anarcho-primitivism or eco-fascism have become familiar ideologies, and figures like Fuentes possess cultish influence. Nathan Taylor Pemberton, The New Yorker, 17 Mar. 2021 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, 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, 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, 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, 26 Mar. 2018

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.

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First Known Use of primitivism

1861, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for primitivism

primitive entry 1 + -ism

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Time Traveler for primitivism

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The first known use of primitivism was in 1861

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Dictionary Entries Near primitivism

primitive water



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Last Updated

15 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Primitivism.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Jan. 2022.

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More from Merriam-Webster on primitivism

Britannica English: Translation of primitivism for Arabic Speakers


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