sec·​u·​lar·​ism | \ ˈse-kyə-lə-ˌri-zəm How to pronounce secularism (audio) \

Definition of secularism

: indifference to or rejection or exclusion of religion and religious considerations

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Other Words from secularism

secularist \ ˈse-​kyə-​lə-​rist How to pronounce secularism (audio) \ noun
secularist or less commonly secularistic \ ˌse-​kyə-​lə-​ˈri-​stik How to pronounce secularism (audio) \ adjective

Examples of secularism in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web In France, public schools have played a central role in instilling national values, including laïcité, the strict secularism that separates religion from the state. New York Times, "France’s Dragnet for Extremists Sweeps Up Some Schoolchildren, Too," 23 Nov. 2020 This strict French version of secularism protects the right both to believe or not believe, as well as ensuring religious neutrality in public life. The Economist, "Emmanuel Macron unveils a controversial bill to fight Islamism," 9 Dec. 2020 And as India’s economy grew in the 2000s, secularism came to be perceived as another failure of the left. New York Times, "India’s Leading Documentary Filmmaker Has a Warning," 1 Dec. 2020 Difficult to translate, the word laïque refers to the French creed of laïcité, a form of secularism that is central to the country’s history and identity, but much misunderstood elsewhere. The Economist, "The Economist explains What is French laïcité?," 23 Nov. 2020 Growing secularism and liberal social reforms convinced others that their Christian faith was threatened. Stephen Collinson, CNN, "Can Biden heal America?," 8 Nov. 2020 But on a cultural level, beyond the parameters of the law, French politicians have in recent years begun to interpret state secularism as a means of cracking down on public indications of Islam in society, frequently the Muslim headscarf. Washington Post, "France recalls ambassador from Turkey after Erdogan says Macron needs ‘mental’ treatment for comments on teacher beheading," 25 Oct. 2020 The teacher who was beheaded had shown caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad in a class on secularism and free expression, angering some Muslims, including the 18-year-old man, a complete stranger, who sought him out and killed him. New York Times, "New Terror Attacks Leave France Embattled at Home and Abroad," 29 Oct. 2020 In the eulogy at Paty’s funeral, Macron defended France’s secularism and vowed that the country would not give up its liberties or its cartoons. David Aaro, Fox News, "Knife attack at French church leaves 3 dead as country is on heightened terror alert," 29 Oct. 2020

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

1851, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler for secularism

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The first known use of secularism was in 1851

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Statistics for secularism

Last Updated

19 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Secularism.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Jan. 2021.

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How to pronounce secularism (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of secularism

: the belief that religion should not play a role in government, education, or other public parts of society

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