[ en-vahy-ruh n-men-tl-ist, -vahy-ern- ]
/ ɛnˌvaɪ rənˈmɛn tl ɪst, -ˌvaɪ ərn- /


an expert on environmental problems.
any person who advocates or works to protect the air, water, animals, plants, and other natural resources from pollution or its effects.
a person who believes that differences between individuals or groups, especially in moral and intellectual attributes, are predominantly determined by environmental factors, as surroundings, upbringing, or experience (opposed to hereditarian).

Nearby words

  1. environmental protection agency,
  2. environmental psychology,
  3. environmental resistance,
  4. environmental science,
  5. environmentalism,
  6. environs,
  7. envisage,
  8. envision,
  9. envoy,
  10. envy

Origin of environmentalist

First recorded in 1915–20; environmental + -ist

Related formsen·vi·ron·men·tal·ism, nounan·ti·en·vi·ron·men·tal·ist, noun, adjective

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for environmentalism

British Dictionary definitions for environmentalism


/ (ɪnˌvaɪrənˈmɛntəˌlɪzəm) /


psychol the belief that a person's behaviour is affected chiefly by his environmentCompare hereditarianism


/ (ɪnˌvaɪrənˈmɛntəlɪst) /


an adherent of environmentalism
a person who is concerned with the maintenance of ecological balance and the conservation of the environment
a person concerned with issues that affect the environment, such as pollution
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

Word Origin and History for environmentalism



1923, as a psychological theory (in the nature vs. nurture debate), from environmental + -ism. The ecological sense is from 1972. Related: Environmentalist (n.), 1916 in the psychological sense, 1970 in the ecological sense.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper