noun, plural mer·i·toc·ra·cies.
  1. an elite group of people whose progress is based on ability and talent rather than on class privilege or wealth.
  2. a system in which such persons are rewarded and advanced: The dean believes the educational system should be a meritocracy.
  3. leadership by able and talented persons.

Origin of meritocracy

First recorded in 1955–60; merit + -o- + -cracy
Related formsmer·i·to·crat·ic [mer-i-tuh-krat-ik] /ˌmɛr ɪ təˈkræt ɪk/, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for meritocratic

Contemporary Examples of meritocratic

British Dictionary definitions for meritocratic


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

Word Origin and History for meritocratic



coined 1958 by British sociologist Michael Young (1915-2002) and used in title of his book, "The Rise of the Meritocracy"; from merit (n.) + -cracy. Related: Meritocratic.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

meritocratic in Culture



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.