pa·​ter·​nal·​ism pə-ˈtər-nə-ˌli-zəm How to pronounce paternalism (audio)
: a system under which an authority undertakes to supply needs or regulate conduct of those under its control in matters affecting them as individuals as well as in their relations to authority and to each other
the empire's paternalism in regard to its colonies
: a policy or practice based on or characteristic of paternalism
paternalist noun or adjective
paternalistic adjective
paternalistically adverb

Examples of paternalism in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Too many wish to be doted upon or crave paternalism to escape responsibility. Armstrong Williams, Baltimore Sun, 31 Mar. 2024 Michelin paternalism The initiative has been rolled out across Michelin’s international bases. Ryan Hogg, Fortune Europe, 18 Apr. 2024 Such belief permeates his nurturing paternalism, allowing his home and workplace to transform into training forums where mistakes are not just allowed, but celebrated as stepping stones for learning and evolution. Chris Gallagher, USA TODAY, 24 Jan. 2024 The latter was no less idealistic for being a product of the racial paternalism of its day. Dan McLaughlin, National Review, 6 Feb. 2024 Gallardo’s scorn for the paternalism of an economic system in which the rich control even the souls of the poor is understated but vicious. S. C. Cornell, The New Yorker, 9 Dec. 2023 Federal healthcare efforts and the Indian Health Service created spaces of colonial paternalism, neglect, assimilation, and elimination throughout Indian country, even as Native peoples repeatedly tried to intervene on their own behalf. TIME, 19 Oct. 2023 The government’s prickly paternalism—and its annoying habit of rechristening flying objects every few decades, most recently as UAPs—generated countless conspiracy theories, which Graff soberly investigates, down to the last crop circle and cattle mutilation. Dan Piepenbring, Harper's Magazine, 16 Oct. 2023 In interviews with The New York Times, more than a dozen women involved in Spanish soccer described more than a decade of systemic sexism ranging from paternalism and offhand remarks to verbal abuse. Jeré Longman, New York Times, 7 Sep. 2023

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

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of paternalism was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near paternalism

Cite this Entry

“Paternalism.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 13 Jun. 2024.

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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