[fem-uh-niz-uh m]


the doctrine advocating social, political, and all other rights of women equal to those of men.
(sometimes initial capital letter) an organized movement for the attainment of such rights for women.
Older Use. feminine character.

Origin of feminism

1840–45; < Latin fēmina “woman” + English -ism; 1890-95 for sense of “women's movement” (from feminist, adjective); see feminine; cf. French féminisme
Related formsfem·i·nist, noun, adjectivean·ti·fem·i·nism, nounpro·fem·i·nism, noun

Word story

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

Examples from the Web for feminism

Contemporary Examples of feminism

Historical Examples of feminism

  • Observe that I say ‘femininity,’ a privilege—not ‘feminism,’ an attitude.


    Joseph Conrad

  • They are the real interests of feminism because they have produced it.

    A Preface to Politics

    Walter Lippmann

  • It will be seen from this how little he is involved by feminism.

    Browning's Heroines

    Ethel Colburn Mayne

  • With flies, feminism is brought frankly into the love mechanism.

  • The aims of Feminism are being realised in unforeseen developments.

British Dictionary definitions for feminism



a doctrine or movement that advocates equal rights for women
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 feminism

1851, "state of being feminine;" sense of "advocacy of women's rights" is 1895, from French féminisme (1837); see feminine + -ism.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Culture definitions for feminism


The doctrine — and the political movement based on it — that women should have the same economic, social, and political rights as men. (See under “Anthropology, Psychology, and Sociology.”)


A movement for granting women political, social, and economic equality with men. (See women's movement.)

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.