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[kuh n-sur-vuh-tiz-uh m] /kənˈsɜr vəˌtɪz əm/
the disposition to preserve or restore what is established and traditional and to limit change.
the principles and practices of political conservatives.
Origin of conservatism
First recorded in 1825-35; conservat(ive) + -ism
Related forms
anticonservatism, noun
hyperconservatism, noun
overconservatism, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for conservatism
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The outbreak of the French Revolution intensified his conservatism.

    Historical Essays James Ford Rhodes
  • Yes, I know his stu … his strictness, his conservatism in these matters.

    The Live Corpse Leo Tolstoy
  • There is always a certain meanness in the argument of conservatism, joined with a certain superiority in its fact.

    Expository Writing Mervin James Curl
  • The conservatism of England, in the view of an American, is striking.

    Farm drainage Henry Flagg French
  • Evidently, in the absence of any compulsory adherence to settled articles, there was an abundant tendency to conservatism.

    Practical Essays Alexander Bain
British Dictionary definitions for conservatism


opposition to change and innovation
a political philosophy advocating the preservation of the best of the established order in society and opposing radical change


noun (in Britain, Canada, etc)
the form of conservatism advocated by the Conservative Party
the policies, doctrines, or practices of the Conservative Party
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 conservatism

1835, in reference to the Conservative party in British politics; from conservative + -ism. From 1840 in reference to conservative principles generally.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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conservatism in Culture

conservatism definition

A general preference for the existing order of society, and an opposition to efforts to bring about sharp change. (Compare liberalism.)

The American Heritage® 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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