[ploo r-uh-liz-uh m]
  1. Philosophy.
    1. a theory that there is more than one basic substance or principle.Compare dualism(def 2), monism(def 1a).
    2. a theory that reality consists of two or more independent elements.
  2. Ecclesiastical.
    1. the holding by one person of two or more offices at the same time.
    2. plurality(def 7a).
  3. Sociology. cultural pluralism.
  4. state or quality of being plural.

Origin of pluralism

First recorded in 1810–20; plural + -ism
Related formsplu·ral·ist, noun, adjectiveplu·ral·is·tic, adjectiveplu·ral·is·ti·cal·ly, adverbnon·plu·ral·is·tic, adjectiveun·plu·ral·is·tic, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for pluralist

Contemporary Examples of pluralist

  • But a democratic, pluralist Egypt is a safer neighbor in the long term than one held together by barbed wire and policemen.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Why Egypt Is Too Big to Fail

    Rep. Jane Harman

    June 14, 2013

  • Theocratic democracies balance official religions with democratic institutions and pluralist practices.

    The Daily Beast logo
    How To Build A Theocratic Democracy

    Janice Stein

    November 1, 2012

  • Instead of fostering a pluralist Zionist conversation, they largely promote a limited set of views.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Australia's Disneyfied Israel

    Liam Getreu

    October 31, 2012

Historical Examples of pluralist

British Dictionary definitions for pluralist


  1. the holding by a single person of more than one ecclesiastical benefice or office
  2. sociol a theory of society as several autonomous but interdependent groups which either share power or continuously compete for power
  3. the existence in a society of groups having distinctive ethnic origin, cultural forms, religions, etc
  4. a theory that views the power of employers as being balanced by the power of trade unions in industrial relations such that the interests of both sides can be catered for
  5. philosophy
    1. the metaphysical doctrine that reality consists of more than two basic types of substanceCompare monism (def. 2), dualism (def. 2)
    2. the metaphysical doctrine that reality consists of independent entities rather than one unchanging wholeCompare monism (def. 2), absolutism (def. 2b)
Derived Formspluralist, noun, adjectivepluralistic, 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 pluralist



1818, as a term in church administration, from plural + -ism. Attested from 1882 as a term in philosophy for a theory which recognizes more than one ultimate principle. In political science, attested from 1919 (in Harold J. Laski) in sense "theory which opposes monolithic state power." General sense of "toleration of diversity within a society or state" is from 1933. Related: Pluralist (1620s, in the church sense); pluralistic.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

pluralist in Culture


A conviction that various religious, ethnic, racial, and political groups should be allowed to thrive in a single society. In metaphysics, pluralism can also mean an alternative to dualism and monism. A pluralist asserts that there are more than two kinds of principles, whereas the dualist maintains there are only two and a monist only one.

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.