sub·​sid·​i·​ar·​i·​ty ˌsəb-si-dē-ˈer-ə-tē How to pronounce subsidiarity (audio)
: the quality or state of being subsidiary
: a principle in social organization holding that functions which are performed effectively by subordinate or local organizations belong more properly to them than to a dominant central organization
Subsidiarity, an element of Catholic social doctrine, holds that what can be done at a lower level in a social system shouldn't be done at a higher one. Russell Shaw
Subsidiarity, in [Wilhelm] Röpke's understanding, refers to the absolute right of local communities to take decisions for themselves, including the decision to surrender the matter to a larger forum. Subsidiarity places an absolute brake upon centralizing powers by permitting their involvement only when requested. Roger Scruton

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web At the same time, the Satmars were the legatees of a libertarian influence on deregulation and the protections of property law, as well as principles of local subsidiarity and privatization. Gideon Lewis-kraus, The New Yorker, 23 Feb. 2022 At some point in time or in some areas of concern, state governments may be more powerful than the federal government, society may be more inclined toward solidarity than subsidiarity, or rights may be more championed than duties. Tod Worner, National Review, 25 Oct. 2020 In a world where the slightest enthusiasm or complaint can penetrate Congress and cause a stir, expounding the principles of limited government and subsidiarity is more urgent than ever. Christopher Demuth Sr., National Review, 11 Jan. 2018

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

Word History

First Known Use

1936, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of subsidiarity was in 1936

Dictionary Entries Near subsidiarity

Cite this Entry

“Subsidiarity.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 Dec. 2022.

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