[ min-uh-muh-list ]
/ ˈmɪn ə mə lɪst /
Save This Word!

a person who favors a moderate approach to the achievement of a set of goals or who holds minimal expectations for the success of a program.
a practitioner of minimalism in music or art.
of, relating to, or characteristic of minimalism.
being or offering no more than what is required or essential: a minimalist program for tax reform.
Do you know the difference between everyday US and UK terminology? Test yourself with this quiz on words that differ across the Atlantic.
Question 1 of 7
In the UK, COTTON CANDY is more commonly known as…

Origin of minimalist

1905–10; in political use <French minimaliste (see minimal, -ist), translation of Russian men'shevíkMenshevik; subsequent uses perhaps recoinage with minimal, -ist
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What does minimalist mean?

Minimalist is most generally used as an adjective describing a style or approach  that uses a small number of elements.

Minimalist can also be used to refer to a person who favors a style or approach.

More specifically, minimalist can refer to an artist who practices or uses Minimalism, which can refer to a type of painting or sculpture (sometimes called minimal art), music, or other art form. Art forms labeled minimalist typically use the simplest and fewest elements with the goal of creating the maximum effect.

The term minimalism can also be used in a more general way to refer to a minimalist 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’s a minimalist when it comes to interior design, but to me it just looks like her house is missing a lot of furniture.

Where does minimalist come from?

The first records of the word minimalist in English come from the early 1900s. Minimalist 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, a minimalist look often consists of a neutral color palette and little adornment. Someone who leads a minimalist lifestyle usually has limited possessions, adhering to the motto “less is more.”

An even more specific use of the word Minimalist is to refer to a member of a faction of Russian revolutionaries in the early 1900s. By contrast, members of a more extreme faction were called Maximalists. The term maximalist can be used in a more general way as the opposite of minimalist, but this is uncommon.

Did you know ... ?

What are some other forms of minimalist?

What are some synonyms for minimalist?

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

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

How is minimalist used in real life?

Minimalist is commonly used as an adjective to describe art or a simple lifestyle.



Try using minimalist!

Is minimalist used correctly in the following sentence?

The painting is very minimalist—it only uses a few simple shapes and muted colors.

How to use minimalist in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for minimalist (1 of 2)

/ (ˈmɪnɪməlɪst) /

a person advocating a minimal policy, style, technique, action, etc
a minimal artist
of or relating to minimal art or artists

British Dictionary definitions for minimalist (2 of 2)

/ (ˈmɪnɪməlɪst) /

noun (in early 20th-century Russia)
a member of the faction of the Social Revolutionaries that advocated immediate postrevolutionary democracy
a less common name for a Menshevik
Compare Maximalist
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