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[muh-teer-ee-uh-liz-uh m] /məˈtɪər i əˌlɪz əm/
preoccupation with or emphasis on material objects, comforts, and considerations, with a disinterest in or rejection of spiritual, intellectual, or cultural values.
the philosophical theory that regards matter and its motions as constituting the universe, and all phenomena, including those of mind, as due to material agencies.
Origin of materialism
From the New Latin word māteriālismus, dating back to 1740-50. See material, -ism
Related forms
antimaterialism, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for materialism
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • He might have escaped this materialism through the church, but to him it offered no inducements.

    Dust Mr. and Mrs. Haldeman-Julius
  • There will soon be no babies for you to instruct either in materialism or socialism.

    Mountain Meditations L. Lind-af-Hageby
  • Liberate their conscience from the materialism by which it is weighed down.

    Italy, the Magic Land Lilian Whiting
  • Razumov envied the materialism of the thief and the passion of the incorrigible lover.

    Under Western Eyes Joseph Conrad
  • On the other hand, it is of the essence of materialism to deny that the Will is an agent.

    Mind and Motion and Monism George John Romanes
British Dictionary definitions for materialism


interest in and desire for money, possessions, etc, rather than spiritual or ethical values
(philosophy) the monist doctrine that matter is the only reality and that the mind, the emotions, etc, are merely functions of it Compare idealism (sense 3), dualism (sense 2) See also identity theory
(ethics) the rejection of any religious or supernatural account of things
Derived Forms
materialist, noun, adjective
materialistic, adjective
materialistically, adverb
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 materialism

1748, "philosophy that nothing exists except matter" (from French matérialisme); 1851 as "a way of life based entirely on consumer goods." From material + ism.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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materialism in Culture

materialism definition

In philosophy, the position that nothing exists except matter — things that can be measured or known through the senses. Materialists deny the existence of spirit, and they look for physical explanations for all phenomena. Thus, for example, they trace mental states to the brain or nervous system, rather than to the spirit or the soul. Marxism, because it sees human culture as the product of economic forces, is a materialist system of beliefs.

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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