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

Examples of subsidiarity in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web But Vermeule would go further by, for example, interpreting the scope of Congress’s power under the commerce clause based on the natural-law principle of subsidiarity, regardless of whether subsidiarity was originally understood to have been incorporated into any source of positive law. J. Joel Alicea, National Review, 3 May 2022 Furthermore, a less formal, but no less rich balance would emerge between layers of society (personal freedom, civil society, and the state), between political parties, our identity as a democracy or republic, and between subsidiarity and solidarity. Tod Worner, National Review, 25 Oct. 2020 But beyond questions of efficiency and incentive, the decentralized character of markets also allows for subsidiarity and local self-determination — values that lie at the heart of conservative environmentalism. Nate Hochman, National Review, 3 Sep. 2020 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 examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'subsidiarity.' 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

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 18 Apr. 2024.

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