[ in-kruh-men-tl-iz-uhm, ing- ]


  1. a policy of making changes, especially social changes, by degrees; gradualism.

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Other Words From

  • incre·mental·ist noun adjective

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Word History and Origins

Origin of incrementalism1

First recorded in 1965–70; incremental ( def ) + -ism

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Example Sentences

Intensely forward-thinking and impatient with incrementalism, many modern technologists—especially those at the helm of large for-profit enterprises—are the opposite.

There’s a lesson here for contemporary left-wing activism, which can be bogged down by smug indignation and righteous one-upmanship, and where incrementalism is mocked as selling out.

Just this year, we’ve seen pushes to pass expansive, universal voucher programs in some states, showing that privatizers will abandon elements of incrementalism when they think they have an opportunity.

If possible, privatization advocates would completely dismantle public schools tomorrow, but they don’t have the political leverage to achieve that right now, so they have to engage in incrementalism.

These groups do this because they believe the trap of incrementalism.

Will we be destined to witness endless partisan brinksmanship and “small-ball” incrementalism?


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