[ rel-uh-tuh-viz-uhm ]

  1. any theory holding that criteria of judgment are relative, varying with individuals and their environments.

Origin of relativism

First recorded in 1860–65; relative + -ism

Words Nearby relativism Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use relativism in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for relativism


/ (ˈrɛlətɪˌvɪzəm) /

  1. any theory holding that truth or moral or aesthetic value, etc, is not universal or absolute but may differ between individuals or cultures: See also historicism

Derived forms of relativism

  • relativist, noun, 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 relativism


The doctrine that no ideas or beliefs are universally true but that all are, instead, “relative” — that is, their validity depends on the circumstances in which they are applied.

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.