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 relativist (audio) \ noun

Examples of relativism in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Yet many of us cannot help but acknowledge that our country is becoming less morally estimable, as human freedom is increasingly understood as limitless relativism and accompanied by totalitarian moralism on much of the left. Daniel J. Mahoney, National Review, "Democracy’s Moral Foundations: Recovering Our ‘Constitution in Full’," 20 June 2019 The pernicious philosophy of relativism teaches that there is no objective truth. WSJ, "Notable & Quotable: Betsy DeVos," 18 Sep. 2018 Bad things: Jenny, Vanessa’s sudden descent into moral relativism. Elizabeth Logan, Glamour, "Every Single Episode of Gossip Girl, Ranked," 19 Sep. 2018 Long shrouded in a gray area of cultural relativism, eating dogs has become a taboo in the country as younger generations gravitate closer to the Western belief that a pooch is man’s best friend, rather than a tasty delicacy, according to AFP. Fox News, "South Korean court outlaws killing dogs for their meat," 21 June 2018 Today, the lens represents a struggle between objectivity and relativism. Allain Daigle, The Atlantic, "How the 50-mm Lens Became ‘Normal’," 13 May 2018 There is space within the Catholic tradition for a kind of situational ethics that doesn’t automatically collapse into moral relativism. Tara Isabella Burton, Vox, "The conservative case against Pope Francis — and why it matters," 5 Apr. 2018 Still, by challenging moral relativism more broadly, Douthat nonetheless raises an important point. Tara Isabella Burton, Vox, "The conservative case against Pope Francis — and why it matters," 5 Apr. 2018 Some might blame the truth-disparaging theories that have long been incubating in certain corners of the academy, which go by the names of relativism and postmodernism. Rebecca Newberger Goldstein, WSJ, "Truth Isn’t the Problem—We Are," 15 Mar. 2018

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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Statistics for relativism

Last Updated

24 Jun 2019

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Time Traveler for relativism

The first known use of relativism was in 1865

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English Language Learners Definition of relativism

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

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Spanish Central: Translation of relativism

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

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