[ mer-i-tok-ruh-see ]
/ ˌmɛr ɪˈtɒk rə si /
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noun, plural mer·i·toc·ra·cies.
an elite group of people whose progress is based on ability and talent rather than on class, privilege, or wealth.
a system in which such persons are rewarded and advanced: The dean believes the educational system should be a meritocracy.
leadership by able and talented persons.
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Origin of meritocracy

First recorded in 1955–60; merit + -o- + -cracy

OTHER WORDS FROM meritocracy

mer·i·to·crat·ic [mer-i-tuh-krat-ik], /ˌmɛr ɪ təˈkræt ɪk/, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use meritocracy in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for meritocracy

/ (ˌmɛrɪˈtɒkrəsɪ) /

noun plural -cies
rule by persons chosen not because of birth or wealth, but for their superior talents or intellect
the persons constituting such a group
a social system formed on such a basis

Derived forms of meritocracy

meritocrat, nounmeritocratic (ˌmɛrɪtəˈkrætɪk), adjective
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

Cultural definitions for meritocracy

[ (mer-i-tok-ruh-see) ]

A government or society in which citizens who display superior achievement are rewarded with positions of leadership. In a meritocracy, all citizens have the opportunity to be recognized and advanced in proportion to their abilities and accomplishments. The ideal of meritocracy has become controversial because of its association with the use of tests of intellectual ability, such as the Scholastic Aptitude Test, to regulate admissions to elite colleges and universities. Many contend that an individual's performance on these tests reflects his or her social class and family environment more than ability.

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.