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[kom-yuh-niz-uh m] /ˈkɒm yəˌnɪz əm/
a theory or system of social organization based on the holding of all property in common, actual ownership being ascribed to the community as a whole or to the state.
(often initial capital letter) a system of social organization in which all economic and social activity is controlled by a totalitarian state dominated by a single and self-perpetuating political party.
(initial capital letter) the principles and practices of the Communist Party.
Origin of communism
From the French word communisme, dating back to 1835-45. See common, -ism
Related forms
anticommunism, noun
procommunism, noun, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for communism
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • communism maintains that social wrongs can be corrected only by violence.

  • It is a race as to whether this peninsula will be captured by communism or capitalism.

    Rosinante to the Road Again

    John Dos Passos
  • About war there is no difficulty; the principle of communism is adapted to military service.

    The Republic Plato
  • There is an element of monasticism even in Plato's communism.

    The Republic Plato
  • Socialism was, on the Continent at least, 'respectable'; communism was the very opposite.

    Socialism John Spargo
British Dictionary definitions for communism


advocacy of a classless society in which private ownership has been abolished and the means of production and subsistence belong to the community
any social, economic, or political movement or doctrine aimed at achieving such a society
(usually capital) a political movement based upon the writings of Marx that considers history in terms of class conflict and revolutionary struggle, resulting eventually in the victory of the proletariat and the establishment of a socialist order based on public ownership of the means of production See also Marxism, Marxism-Leninism, socialism
(usually capital) a social order or system of government established by a ruling Communist Party, esp in the former Soviet Union
(often capital) (mainly US) any leftist political activity or thought, esp when considered to be subversive
communal living; communalism
Word Origin
C19: from French communisme, from communcommon
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for communism

"social system based on collective ownership," 1843, from French communisme (c.1840) from commun (Old French comun; see common (adj.)) + -isme (see -ism). Originally a theory of society; as name of a political system, 1850, a translation of German Kommunismus (itself from French), in Marx and Engels' "Manifesto of the Communist Party." Cf. communist. In some cases in early and mid-20c., a term of abuse implying anti-social criminality without regard to political theory.

Each [i.e. socialism, communism, anarchism] stands for a state of things, or a striving after it, that differs much from that which we know; & for many of us, especially those who are comfortably at home in the world as it is, they have consequently come to be the positive, comparative, & superlative, distinguished not in kind but in degree only, of the terms of abuse applicable to those who would disturb our peace. [Fowler]

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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communism in Culture

communism definition

An economic and social system envisioned by the nineteenth-century German scholar Karl Marx. In theory, under communism, all means of production are owned in common, rather than by individuals (see Marxism and Marxism-Leninism). In practice, a single authoritarian party controls both the political and economic systems. In the twentieth century, communism was associated with the economic and political systems of China and the Soviet Union and of the satellites of the Soviet Union. (Compare capitalism and socialism.)

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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