rel·​a·​tiv·​ism ˈre-lə-ti-ˌvi-zəm How to pronounce relativism (audio)
: a theory that knowledge is relative to the limited nature of the mind and the conditions of knowing
: a view that ethical truths depend on the individuals and groups holding them
relativist noun

Examples of relativism in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Belief in objective truth is necessary to pursue the higher things and to protect against relativism and nihilism. The Editors, National Review, 16 Oct. 2023 At the end, Gary espouses a belief in a Nietzschean form of relativism, or a collectivist view of moral truth, with a strong emphasis on individualism. Patrick Brzeski, The Hollywood Reporter, 5 Sep. 2023 Grammar is out, relativism is in, and the very project of telling (alt: teaching) other people how to speak or write has come to be seen by many Americans as authoritarian on its face. S.c. Cornell, The New Yorker, 25 Aug. 2023 One of the ironies of our overheated present moment is that the rationalist panic about social constructionism has become aligned with the Christian right’s panic about moral relativism. Hari Kunzru, Harper’s Magazine , 22 June 2022 From these insights Harry V. Jaffa in his great books on Lincoln (1959, 2000) also reconstructed, against feckless scientistic relativism (e.g., Clarence Darrow and the influential historian Carl Becker), the perennial relevance of the great statesman’s vision of America, the West, and the world. M. D. Aeschliman, National Review, 8 Aug. 2021 Critics on the right, like philosopher Allan Bloom, once complained about the flaccid relativism of progressives who preached tolerance as the highest virtue. Michael S. Roth, Washington Post, 27 Apr. 2023 The question is even more urgent for someone like Wolfe, who portrays America as a formerly Christian polity undermined by immigration and relativism. Kelefa Sanneh, The New Yorker, 27 Mar. 2023 Einstein’s theories as ideational relativism. Adam Gopnik, The New Yorker, 3 May 2021 See More

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

Word History

First Known Use

1865, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of relativism was in 1865

Dictionary Entries Near relativism

Cite this Entry

“Relativism.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Dec. 2023.

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