rel·​a·​tiv·​ism | \ ˈre-lə-ti-ˌvi-zəm How to pronounce relativism (audio) \

Definition of relativism

1a : a theory that knowledge is relative to the limited nature of the mind and the conditions of knowing
b : a view that ethical truths depend on the individuals and groups holding them

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Other Words from relativism

relativist \ ˈre-​lə-​tə-​vist How to pronounce relativism (audio) \ noun

Examples of relativism in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Such examples of relativism about issues including climate change and, most recently, the COVID-19 pandemic—have significantly contributed to the proliferation of fake news and conspiracy theories. Liv Grjebine, Scientific American, "Why Doubt Is Essential to Science," 9 Oct. 2020 The second pitfall is a form of relativism borne out of a lack of confidence in the very existence of truth. Liv Grjebine, Scientific American, "Why Doubt Is Essential to Science," 9 Oct. 2020 This relativism in itself was nothing less than an assault on Western civilization. Mike Gonzalez, National Review, "To Tackle Critical Theory in the K–12 Classroom, Start with Colleges of Education," 5 Oct. 2020 Americans didn’t confuse liberty with moral relativism or indifference to truth. Daniel J. Mahoney, National Review, "The Spirit of Religion and the Spirit of Liberty," 23 Sep. 2020 Henrich’s macro-cultural relativism has its virtues. Judith Shulevitz, The Atlantic, "Why Is the West So Powerful—And So Peculiar?," 6 Sep. 2020 Karl Popper, scourge of relativism, whose theory of falsifiability came to dominate discussion of the scientific method in the middle decades of the twentieth century, emphasized this very point. Jessica Riskin, The New York Review of Books, "Just Use Your Thinking Pump!," 17 June 2020 None of this is to support political relativism; the United States is not, as some dictators like to suggest, as unfree as many other countries. Justin Sherman, Wired, "The Protests Prove the Need to Regulate Surveillance Tech," 9 June 2020 In this climate of relativism and revisionism, where the most outlandish theories are a Google search away, both Marxism and utopian socialism seem credible. Matthew Continetti, National Review, "The Fight against Socialism Isn’t Over," 14 Mar. 2020

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

1865, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

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The first known use of relativism was in 1865

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Cite this Entry

“Relativism.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 14 Apr. 2021.

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More Definitions for relativism



English Language Learners Definition of relativism

: the belief that different things are true, right, etc., for different people or at different times

More from Merriam-Webster on relativism

Nglish: Translation of relativism for Spanish Speakers Encyclopedia article about relativism

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