/ (səbˌsɪdɪˈærɪtɪ) /


(in the Roman Catholic Church) a principle of social doctrine that all social bodies exist for the sake of the individual so that what individuals are able to do, society should not take over, and what small societies can do, larger societies should not take over
(in political systems) the principle of devolving decisions to the lowest practical level

Nearby words

  1. subset,
  2. subshell,
  3. subshrub,
  4. subside,
  5. subsidence,
  6. subsidiary,
  7. subsidiary atrial pacemaker,
  8. subsidiary cell,
  9. subsidiary coin,
  10. subsidiary company

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 subsidiarity



1936, from German Subsidiarität, paraphrasing the Latin of Pius XI in his Quadragesimo Anno of 1931; see subsidiary + -ity.

Just as it is gravely wrong to take from individuals what they can accomplish by their own initiative and industry and give it to the community, so also it is an injustice and at the same time a grave evil and disturbance of right order to assign to a greater and higher association what lesser and subordinate organizations can do. For every social activity ought of its very nature to furnish help to the members of the body social, and never destroy and absorb them. [Pius XI, Quadragesimo Anno, 1931]
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper