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[fem-uh-niz-uh m] /ˈfɛm əˌnɪz əm/
the doctrine advocating social, political, and all other rights of women equal to those of men.
(sometimes initial capital letter) an organized movement for the attainment of such rights for women.
Older Use. feminine character.
Origin of feminism
1840-45; < Latin fēmina “woman” + English -ism; 1890-95 for sense of “women's movement” (from feminist, adjective); see feminine; cf. French féminisme
Related forms
feminist, noun, adjective
antifeminism, noun
profeminism, noun
Word story
See feminist. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for feminism
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Observe that I say ‘femininity,’ a privilege—not ‘feminism,’ an attitude.

    Chance Joseph Conrad
  • They are the real interests of feminism because they have produced it.

    A Preface to Politics

    Walter Lippmann
  • It will be seen from this how little he is involved by feminism.

    Browning's Heroines Ethel Colburn Mayne
  • With flies, feminism is brought frankly into the love mechanism.

  • The aims of feminism are being realised in unforeseen developments.

    Feminism and Sex-Extinction

    Arabella Kenealy
British Dictionary definitions for feminism


a doctrine or movement that advocates equal rights for women
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 feminism

1851, "state of being feminine;" sense of "advocacy of women's rights" is 1895, from French féminisme (1837); see feminine + -ism.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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feminism in Culture

feminism definition

The doctrine — and the political movement based on it — that women should have the same economic, social, and political rights as men. (See under “Anthropology, Psychology, and Sociology.”)

feminism definition

A movement for granting women political, social, and economic equality with men. (See women's movement.)

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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