[ min-uh-muh-liz-uhm ]
/ ˈmɪn ə məˌlɪz əm /
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noun Sometimes Min·i·mal·ism .
Music. a reductive style or school of modern music utilizing only simple sonorities, rhythms, and patterns, with minimal embellishment or orchestrational complexity, and characterized by protracted repetition of figurations, obsessive structural rigor, and often a pulsing, hypnotic effect.
an aesthetic, particularly in design, decor, and fashion, favoring simplicity, clean lines, and neutral colors over pattern, ornament, and brighter colors.
a lifestyle involving a reduction or simplification of one’s material possessions that frees one to lead an existence that is more intentional, purposeful, spiritual, etc.:Inspired by a guru of minimalism, the couple sold their house and began living on the road in an RV.
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Origin of minimalism

First recorded in 1965–70; minimal + -ism
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What does minimalism mean?

Minimalism most generally refers to a style or approach that uses a small number of elements.

More specifically, it can refer to a type of painting or sculpture (sometimes called minimal art), music, or other art form that typically uses the simplest and fewest elements with the goal of creating the maximum effect. In this sense, it is sometimes capitalized.

The adjective form minimalist can be used to describe such art forms, or more generally to describe a simple style or approach. As a noun, it can be used to refer to an artist who practices Minimalism or, more generally, to a person who favors a simple style or approach.

The related adjective minimalistic is used to describe something that is stripped down to its most essential elements or uses only what is needed. Both minimalist and minimalistic can be used to describe things that are simplified and include only the most basic components, without embellishment.

Example: Jane says she prefers minimalism when it comes to interior design, but to me it just looks like her house is missing a lot of furniture.

Where does minimalism come from?

The first records of the word minimalism in English come from the 1900s. Minimalism and its related forms are all built on the adjective minimal, which means “least possible.” Minimal is ultimately derived from the Latin minimus, meaning “smallest.”

The Minimalism art movement developed in the 1960s. The movement valued radical simplicity (like a painting of a single color) to prevent outside meaning being imposed on the artwork. In design and architecture, minimalism often consists of a neutral color palette and little adornment. The term and approach can be applied to any art form or task that focuses on a few, simple elements. In a more general sense, someone who practices minimalism in their lifestyle usually has limited possessions and adheres to the motto “less is more.”

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What are some other forms of minimalism?

What are some words that share a root or word element with minimalism

What are some words that often get used in discussing minimalism?

How is minimalism used in real life?

Minimalism is often used in the context of art, design, and lifestyle.



Try using minimalism!

Is minimalism used correctly in the following sentence?

The painting is a classic example of minimalism—it only uses a few simple shapes and muted colors.

How to use minimalism in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for minimalism

/ (ˈmɪnɪməˌlɪzəm) /

another name for minimal art
a type of music based on simple elements and avoiding elaboration or embellishment
design or style in which the simplest and fewest elements are used to create the maximum effect
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