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 The religion of humanity, and the accompanying dictatorship of relativism, are deeply ingrained in the Church of Rome, and at the highest levels of the Church at that. Daniel J. Mahoney, National Review, "Pope Francis, Wayward Shepherd," 6 Feb. 2020 The pioneers of cultural relativism were working against centuries of racist ideas and prejudices. Patrick Iber, The New Republic, "Pioneers of Cultural Relativism," 14 Aug. 2019 All this is supervised by a dapper duo named Jurgen and Ramon (Oldman and Banderas, respectively), two bankers with a flair for fine tailoring and moral relativism. Leah Greenblatt,, "Steven Soderbergh brings out the stars in scattershot satire The Laundromat," 3 Oct. 2019 To rank a decade’s worth of champions is to embark on a task of relativism and hair-splitting. Dan Greene,, "Ranking the College Basketball National Champions of the Decade," 2 Oct. 2019 King thinks that the reason for this was the rise of anti-relativism. Louis Menand, The New Yorker, "How Cultural Anthropologists Redefined Humanity," 19 Aug. 2019 Further, Boas and his followers promoted the idea of cultural relativism, the idea that prejudices and judgments need to be suspended to better understand others. Rachel Newcomb, Washington Post, "The social scientists who transformed how we think about race and gender," 16 Aug. 2019 This is the basis of moral relativism, which is the exact opposite of Christianity. Jeffrey Peters,, "Peters: It is the sinner’s responsibility to turn back to God," 30 Aug. 2019 The Closing of the American Mind, a complaint about the nature of higher education, is an argument against cultural relativism. Patrick Iber, The New Republic, "Pioneers of Cultural Relativism," 14 Aug. 2019

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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Time Traveler for relativism

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The first known use of relativism was in 1865

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Statistics for relativism

Last Updated

18 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Relativism.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Feb. 2020.

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How to pronounce relativism (audio)

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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