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essentialism

[ uh-sen-shuh-liz-uhm ]

noun

  1. Philosophy. a doctrine that the inward, or essential, nature of most things is invariable, as opposed to the properties that are accidental, phenomenal, illusory, etc.
  2. Education. a doctrine that certain traditional concepts, ideals, and skills are essential to society and should be taught methodically to all students, regardless of individual ability, need, etc. Compare progressive education ( def ).


essentialism

/ ɪˈsɛnʃəˌlɪzəm /

noun

  1. philosophy one of a number of related doctrines which hold that there are necessary properties of things, that these are logically prior to the existence of the individuals which instantiate them, and that their classification depends upon their satisfaction of sets of necessary conditions
  2. the doctrine that education should concentrate on teaching basic skills and encouraging intellectual self-discipline


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Derived Forms

  • esˈsentialist, noun

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Other Words From

  • es·sen·tial·ist noun adjective

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Word History and Origins

Origin of essentialism1

First recorded in 1935–40; essential + -ism

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Example Sentences

The gender essentialism of the premise is inescapable, no matter how much the series tries to push back on it.

From Vox

The Republic Study Committee defines CRT as a belief in “racial essentialism.”

From Time

Such representation can harden the concept of “maternal essentialism,” as Sarah Schoppe-Sullivan of Ohio State University and co-authors argue, the assumption that women are just more naturally apt at parenting.

From Ozy

You talk about how can you make sure your kids don’t fall into “bro-ism” and “locker room essentialism.”

Try raising the matter of Arab or Muslim essentialism at a Harvard Square dinner party.

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