an·​ar·​chism ˈa-nər-ˌki-zəm How to pronounce anarchism (audio)
: a political theory holding all forms of governmental authority to be unnecessary and undesirable and advocating a society based on voluntary cooperation and free association of individuals and groups
: the advocacy or practice of anarchistic principles

Examples of anarchism in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web By the eighteen-eighties, Chicago had become the center of labor politics and the demand for the eight-hour day, of socialism and anarchism. Margaret Talbot, The New Yorker, 2 Oct. 2023 In his piece, Jacobs writes that Kropotkin believed anarchism depended on cooperation, contrasting this with competition. Matthew Gavin Frank, Harper's Magazine, 21 Feb. 2023 But sticking to anarchism would imply an almost certain defeat. Kai Ye, WIRED, 23 July 2023 As Jacobs acknowledges, anarchism is a living practice more than an ideology; its contours are not shaped by devotion to any particular texts or thinkers. Matthew Gavin Frank, Harper's Magazine, 21 Feb. 2023 In France at the end of the 19th century, an elite list of artists and literary figures adopted the philosophy of anarchism, not as a movement to overthrow the state but as a vision of absolute personal freedom. Susannah Gardiner, Smithsonian Magazine, 28 Dec. 2022 The full list of anarchist schools of thought is long, but includes anarcho-syndicalism, anarcha-feminism, green anarchism, Black anarchism, and individualist anarchism, which is similar to libertarianism. Sophie Hayssen,, 14 Aug. 2020 For the student of anarchism, Sabul may be the novel’s most significant character. Alan Jacobs, Harper's Magazine, 9 Nov. 2022 The history these things present is thus familiar in its broad strokes—the Renaissance, the Reformation, humanism, the Enlightenment, New World slavery, abolition, women’s suffrage, anarchism—but viewed through the lens of female agency, exotic in its particulars. Susan Tallman, The New York Review of Books, 26 Mar. 2020 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'anarchism.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


anarchy + -ism; as a political theory after French anarchisme

Note: See note at anarchist.

First Known Use

circa 1656, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of anarchism was circa 1656

Dictionary Entries Near anarchism

Cite this Entry

“Anarchism.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition


an·​ar·​chism ˈan-ər-ˌkiz-əm How to pronounce anarchism (audio)
: a political theory that government is not necessary
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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