so·​lip·​sism | \ ˈsō-ləp-ˌsi-zəm How to pronounce solipsism (audio) , 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

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Other Words from solipsism

solipsist \ ˈsō-​ləp-​sist How to pronounce solipsist (audio) , ˈsä-​ləp-​ , sə-​ˈlip-​ \ noun

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

Her achievement here is not to reinvent the coming-of-age narrative so much as recontextualize it, refusing the temptations of solipsism that can sometimes seep into cruel stories of youth. Justin Chang, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Review: Moving ‘Too Late to Die Young’ opens a window on a lost Chilean summer," 13 June 2019 The reader and writer both self-transcend; a seemingly private act, reading counteracts solipsism. C. E. Morgan, New York Times, "Galloping Through History," 30 Mar. 2018 Questions of luck and social privilege, fate and free will, empathy and solipsism are woven throughout this discursive narrative whose detail-rich sequences lead to psychological insights and unexpected revelations. Tom Nolan, WSJ, "Mysteries: A Case of Mistaken Identity," 11 Oct. 2018 For a pop celebrity, solipsism comes as easily as breathing. Greg Kot,, "Kanye West goes inside on 'Ye,' maybe — or he might be trolling us all," 1 June 2018 Think about your personal devices, those technologies of solipsism that have flourished in the past two decades. Daniel Mendelsohn, Town & Country, "Is This the End of Civility As We Know It?," 29 June 2016 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

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.

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First Known Use of solipsism

1874, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for solipsism

Latin solus alone + ipse self

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Dictionary Entries near solipsism






Solís (Rivera)


Statistics for solipsism

Last Updated

19 Jun 2019

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Time Traveler for solipsism

The first known use of solipsism was in 1874

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More Definitions for solipsism



English Language Learners Definition of solipsism

technical : 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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with solipsism 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).


an act or instance of editing or removing

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