solipsism

noun
so·​lip·​sism | \ˈsō-ləp-ˌsi-zəm, ˈsä-\

Definition of solipsism 

: a theory holding that the self can know nothing but its own modifications and that the self is the only existent thing also : extreme egocentrism

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from solipsism

solipsist \ ˈsō-​ləp-​sist , ˈsä-​ləp-​, sə-​ˈlip-​ \ noun
solipsistic \ ˌsō-​ləp-​ˈsi-​stik , ˌsä-​ \ adjective
solipsistically \ ˌsō-​ləp-​ˈsi-​sti-​k(ə-​)lē , ˌsä-​ \ adverb

Did You Know?

Fans of René Descartes credit the French philosopher with introducing solipsism as a major problem of modern philosophy, but the word solipsism most likely sprang from a French satire written by Giulio Clemente Scotti in 1652 called La Monarchie des Solipses. The term wasn't used in English until the late 19th century, when solipsism, a composite of the Latin solus ("alone") and ipse ("self"), was applied purely in the philosophical sense. Recently the word has taken on another, more general sense, suggesting an ego-driven selfishness or self-indulgence.

Examples of solipsism in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

The political sphere, as has become super apparent, is a bad place for solipsism. Thomas Harlander, Los Angeles Magazine, "Maybe We Should Take David Lynch’s Thoughts on Trump with a Grain of Salt," 27 June 2018 What such critics see as a license for solipsism was in truth a call to recognize and respect the dignity of others. New York Times, "Review: Take the Next Trolley to ‘Won’t You Be My Neighbor?’," 6 June 2018 Less concerned with questions of form and style than their autofiction forebears, these novels and stories suggest that fiction has finally begun to move from its place of deep solipsism to address a deepening sense of futility. Megan O’grady, New York Times, "Read Any Antisocial Novels Lately?," 10 May 2018 Anyway, what is solipsism in wartime but the selfishness of survival? Rachel Aviv, The New Yorker, "Walter Kempowski’s Epic Novel of Germany in Collapse," 21 Mar. 2016 Commentators have dwelled on the traits of theatricality, brutality, solipsism, narcissism, cruelty, and cowardice these men seem to share. chicagotribune.com, "Mattis is an ancient Roman action hero," 29 Mar. 2018 An offhand comment about Brexit best illustrates the solipsism of Drozdiak’s identification with the EU and of his disgust with its enemies. Michael Kimmage, New Republic, "What Happened to the European Union?," 8 Jan. 2018 Even the most optimistic women give up in frustration in the face of Krystal’s overwhelming solipsism. Melissa Locker, Time, "'The Bachelor' Goes Bowling for Roses in Fort Lauderdale," 31 Jan. 2018 Advocates of this theory point to his short attention span, his incapacity for empathy, his narcissism, and solipsism as evidence. Dahlia Lithwick, Slate Magazine, "Is Donald Trump Too Incapacitated to Be President?," 17 May 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'solipsism.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of solipsism

1874, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for solipsism

Latin solus alone + ipse self

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about solipsism

Listen to Our Podcast about solipsism

Dictionary Entries near solipsism

Solingen

solion

soliped

solipsism

solipsistic

Solís (Rivera)

soliste

Statistics for solipsism

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for solipsism

The first known use of solipsism was in 1874

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for solipsism

solipsism

noun

English Language Learners Definition of solipsism

: a theory in philosophy that your own existence is the only thing that is real or that can be known

More from Merriam-Webster on solipsism

See words that rhyme with solipsism

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about solipsism

Comments on solipsism

What made you want to look up solipsism? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

obstinately defiant of authority

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Autumn Words of the Day 2018

  • a-top-down-image-of-road-through-an-autumn-forest
  • Which is a synonym of fugacious?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!