social Darwinism


: an extension of Darwinism to social phenomena
specifically : a sociological theory that sociocultural advance is the product of intergroup conflict and competition and the socially elite classes (such as those possessing wealth and power) possess biological superiority in the struggle for existence
social Darwinist noun or adjective

Examples of social Darwinism in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Next, the researchers asked participants to complete a series of personality tests to understand which facets of personality were most predictive of social Darwinism beliefs. Mark Travers, Forbes, 4 Sep. 2021 Often plucked from the coterie of wealthy corporate attorneys representing the robber barons, his brethren perceived attempts to mitigate the scourges of the Gilded Age — child labor, hazardous workplaces and monopolies — as threats to their faith in laissez-faire capitalism and social Darwinism. Washington Post, 16 July 2021 Steeped in social Darwinism, Mellon viewed the acquisition of wealth as a mark of merit and poverty as a failure of character. Patricia Callahan, ProPublica, 15 Dec. 2021

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'social Darwinism.' 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

1877, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of social Darwinism was in 1877

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Cite this Entry

“Social Darwinism.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 May. 2024.

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