egalitarian

[ ih-gal-i-tair-ee-uh n ]
/ ɪˌgæl ɪˈtɛər i ən /

adjective

asserting, resulting from, or characterized by belief in the equality of all people, especially in political, economic, or social life.

noun

a person who adheres to egalitarian beliefs.

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Origin of egalitarian

1880–85; alteration of equalitarian with French égal replacing equal

OTHER WORDS FROM egalitarian

e·gal·i·tar·i·an·ism, nounan·ti·e·gal·i·tar·i·an, adjective

Words nearby egalitarian

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020

VOCAB BUILDER

What does egalitarian mean?

Egalitarianism is a social and political philosophy promoting the equal status of all people. Something in line with this principle is described as egalitarian. Someone who espouses this principle of equality can be called an egalitarian.

How is egalitarian pronounced?

[ ih-gal-i-tair-ee-uhn ]

What are other forms of egalitarian?

egalitarianism

What are some other words related to egalitarian?

Where does egalitarian come from?

The word egalitarian is derived from the French, based in a Latin root meaning “equal” and giving English that word.

A form of the word is famously associated with an Enlightenment-period motto of the French Revolution from the 1790s, that has since become the country’s national motto: Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité, or “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity.”

Egalitarian is recorded in English by the 1800s, with the noun form recorded by the early 1900s. While rooted in social philosophy, egalitarian has expanded to refer to anything that promotes the equality of all people. Egalitarian prayer, for instance, allows people of any faith to pray at a space even if they do not belong to a particular religion governing it, as at an area of the Western Wall in Israel.

While the word egalitarian has become generalized, it’s still very closely identified with egalitarianism. In general, this philosophy believes all people are by nature equal, and urges the equal treatment of people in all aspects of society, from law to social status.

Its core principle has helped it fuel a range of social revolutions in the 19th and 20th centuries, including Marxism, feminism, the civil rights movement, and the gay rights movements—each working to overcome inequalities based on class, gender, race, or sexuality. And oh, let’s not leave out Western democracy, founded as it is on notions of egalitarianism (as opposed to aristocracy).

How is egalitarian used in real life?

In terms of government, democracy is often identified as the most egalitarian form, based as it is on government by the people and the rule of law.

Egalitarianism is focused on equality, not on special treatment or exceptions. Truly egalitarian movements demand equal rights and opportunities—and responsibilities and consequences.

More examples of egalitarian:

“The Lothagam North Pillar Site suggests egalitarian societies were capable of constructing large public monuments.”

—Brooks Hays, United Press International, August 2018

Example sentences from the Web for egalitarian

British Dictionary definitions for egalitarian

egalitarian
/ (ɪˌɡælɪˈtɛərɪən) /

adjective

of, relating to, or upholding the doctrine of the equality of mankind and the desirability of political, social, and economic equality

noun

an adherent of egalitarian principles

Derived forms of egalitarian

egalitarianism, noun

Word Origin for egalitarian

C19: alteration of equalitarian, through influence of French égal equal
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