Social Darwinism

or so·cial Dar·win·ism

[ soh-shuhl dahr-wuh-niz-uhm ]

  1. a 19th-century theory, inspired by Darwinism, by which the social order is accounted as the product of natural selection of those persons best suited to existing living conditions and in accord with which a position of laissez-faire is advocated.

Origin of Social Darwinism

First recorded in 1885–90

Other words from Social Darwinism

  • So·cial Dar·win·ist, so·cial Dar·win·ist, noun

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

How to use Social Darwinism in a sentence

Cultural definitions for social Darwinism

social Darwinism

A theory arising in the late nineteenth century that the laws of evolution, which Charles Darwin had observed in nature, also apply to society. Social Darwinists argued that social progress resulted from conflicts in which the fittest or best adapted individuals, or entire societies, would prevail. It gave rise to the slogan “survival of the fittest.”

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.