con·​ser·​va·​tism kən-ˈsər-və-ˌti-zəm How to pronounce conservatism (audio)
: the principles and policies of a Conservative party
: the Conservative party
: disposition in politics to preserve what is established
: a political philosophy based on tradition and social stability, stressing established institutions, and preferring gradual development to abrupt change
specifically : such a philosophy calling for lower taxes, limited government regulation of business and investing, a strong national defense, and individual financial responsibility for personal needs (such as retirement income or health-care coverage)
: the tendency to prefer an existing or traditional situation to change
religious conservatism
cultural conservatism

Example Sentences

the state's well-known conservatism means that progressive legislation always has an uphill battle
Recent Examples on the Web So is my brand of conservatism the dominant brand today? Kk Ottesen, Washington Post, 23 Nov. 2022 The limit being that Hungarians might not believe strongly enough in Mr. Orbán’s breed of conservatism to forgo all that cash. Joseph C. Sternberg, WSJ, 17 Nov. 2022 Redfield predicted that their vision was the future of conservatism. Antonia Hitchens, The New Yorker, 14 Nov. 2022 In a place that was once the heart of conservatism in Southern California but is now deeply purple, much will come down to how voters feel about the economy. Laura Blasey, Los Angeles Times, 22 Oct. 2022 Francis’s encyclicals on the economy and environment break with culture-war conservatism, even as his reign has instituted synods where bishops, priests and church members blue-sky about the church. D.g. Hart, WSJ, 28 Oct. 2022 Who wants to build up the hub of conservatism in the state of Alaska? Yereth Rosen, Anchorage Daily News, 28 Oct. 2022 The incumbent’s outperformance of the polls in the first round suggests wider support for Bolsonaro’s populist brand of conservatism, and analysts expect the difference in Sunday’s vote to be much tighter than expected. Tara John, CNN, 27 Oct. 2022 To have veered into this storyline may be risky for Rubio, especially given independents aren’t exactly sympathetic to Monzon’s strain of conservatism. Philip Elliott, Time, 25 Oct. 2022 See More

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

Word History


see conserve entry 1

First Known Use

1815, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of conservatism was in 1815

Dictionary Entries Near conservatism

Cite this Entry

“Conservatism.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition



con·​ser·​va·​tism kən-ˈsər-və-ˌtiz-əm How to pronounce conservatism (audio)
: a political belief supporting established institutions and customs and preferring gradual development to sudden change
: a desire to preserve an existing situation or existing ways

More from Merriam-Webster on conservatism

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