individualism

noun

in·​di·​vid·​u·​al·​ism ˌin-də-ˈvi-jə-wə-ˌli-zəm How to pronounce individualism (audio)
-ˈvij-wə-,
-ˈvi-jə-ˌli-
1
a(1)
: a doctrine that the interests of the individual are or ought to be ethically paramount
also : conduct guided by such a doctrine
(2)
: the conception that all values, rights, and duties originate in individuals
b
: a theory maintaining the political and economic independence of the individual and stressing individual initiative, action, and interests
also : conduct or practice guided by such a theory
2
b
: an individual peculiarity : idiosyncrasy

Examples of individualism in a Sentence

a society that believes strongly in individualism He was respected for his self-reliance and individualism.
Recent Examples on the Web Yet, despite this, the city’s creative individualism shines through. Sarah Mower, Vogue, 20 Feb. 2024 The values created by that shift, such as individualism, are spreading worldwide through education, urbanization, and jobs that take people away from their families. TIME, 3 Feb. 2024 For all of this insanity and chaotic individualism, the Slabbers seem happier here than in our world. Jonah Gercke, SPIN, 15 Mar. 2024 The 43-year-old artist, born Alecia Moore, has for more than two decades been an antidote to the pep of conventional pop, using her don’t-test-me candor on and off the stage to tear down patriarchal standards and promote unabashed individualism. Sophia Solano, Washington Post, 8 Aug. 2023 The actor has long embodied a sense of fun and individualism, and regularly pushes the boundaries of fashion. Hannah Jackson, Vogue, 8 Feb. 2024 There, worlds and feelings collide, conformity battles individualism, and shy teenager Enn falls in love with the rebellious alien, Zan (Elle Fanning). EW.com, 13 Nov. 2023 This is a fascinating lens on the two faces of modern American individualism, as is the characterization of another recent shift back to a different, darker brand of communalism than that of the mid 20th century. Susan Harmeling, Forbes, 10 Feb. 2024 In polls, Gen Z has expressed concerns about housing and friendship, which reflect a souring on cowboy individualism. WSJ, 5 Dec. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'individualism.' 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

1815, in the meaning defined at sense 1a(1)

Time Traveler
The first known use of individualism was in 1815

Dictionary Entries Near individualism

Cite this Entry

“Individualism.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/individualism. Accessed 15 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition

individualism

noun
in·​di·​vid·​u·​al·​ism ˌin-də-ˈvij(ə-)wə-ˌliz-əm How to pronounce individualism (audio)
-ˈvij-ə-ˌliz-
1
: a belief that the interests of the individual are of the greatest importance
2
: a belief that the individual has political or economic rights with which the state must not interfere
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