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[ploo r-uh-liz-uh m] /ˈplʊər əˌlɪz əm/
  1. a theory that there is more than one basic substance or principle.
    Compare dualism (def 2), monism (def 1a).
  2. a theory that reality consists of two or more independent elements.
  1. the holding by one person of two or more offices at the same time.
  2. plurality (def 7a).
Sociology. cultural pluralism.
state or quality of being plural.
Origin of pluralism
First recorded in 1810-20; plural + -ism
Related forms
pluralist, noun, adjective
pluralistic, adjective
pluralistically, adverb
nonpluralistic, adjective
unpluralistic, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for pluralist
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Bergson is frankly and confessedly not a pluralist at all, but a spiritual monist.

    The Complex Vision John Cowper Powys
  • "You appear to be a good deal of a pluralist," interrupted Meeking.

    In the Mayor's Parlour J. S. (Joseph Smith) Fletcher
  • I could maintain their pace, of course: but I'm a pluralist.

    The One and the Many Milton Lesser
  • But, alone among post-Kantian metaphysicians, he is a pluralist.

    History of Modern Philosophy

    Alfred William Benn
  • There was a great deal about the monist and pluralist views of the universe.

  • Fletcher was no pluralist, for he did his work at Trevecca without fee or reward, from the sole motive of being useful.

    Lives of Illustrious Shoemakers William Edward Winks
  • But it is to be carefully observed that he does not negative the pluralist hypothesis as inconceivable or impracticable.

    Nature Mysticism J. Edward Mercer
British Dictionary definitions for pluralist


the holding by a single person of more than one ecclesiastical benefice or office
(sociol) a theory of society as several autonomous but interdependent groups which either share power or continuously compete for power
the existence in a society of groups having distinctive ethnic origin, cultural forms, religions, etc
a theory that views the power of employers as being balanced by the power of trade unions in industrial relations such that the interests of both sides can be catered for
  1. the metaphysical doctrine that reality consists of more than two basic types of substance Compare monism (sense 2), dualism (sense 2)
  2. the metaphysical doctrine that reality consists of independent entities rather than one unchanging whole Compare monism (sense 2), absolutism (sense 2b)
Derived Forms
pluralist, noun, adjective
pluralistic, adjective
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 pluralist



1818, as a term in church administration, from plural + -ism. Attested from 1882 as a term in philosophy for a theory which recognizes more than one ultimate principle. In political science, attested from 1919 (in Harold J. Laski) in sense "theory which opposes monolithic state power." General sense of "toleration of diversity within a society or state" is from 1933. Related: Pluralist (1620s, in the church sense); pluralistic.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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pluralist in Culture

pluralism definition

A conviction that various religious, ethnic, racial, and political groups should be allowed to thrive in a single society. In metaphysics, pluralism can also mean an alternative to dualism and monism. A pluralist asserts that there are more than two kinds of principles, whereas the dualist maintains there are only two and a monist only one.

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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