[toh-kuh-niz-uh m]


the practice or policy of making no more than a token effort or gesture, as in offering opportunities to minorities equal to those of the majority.
any legislation, admissions policy, hiring practice, etc., that demonstrates only minimal compliance with rules, laws, or public pressure: Admitting one woman to the men's club was merely tokenism.

Origin of tokenism

First recorded in 1960–65; token + -ism
Related formsto·ken·is·tic, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for tokenism

Contemporary Examples of tokenism

  • They must have dismissed India as a soft state whose breast-beating is easily calmed by tokenism.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Mumbai's Dangerous Amnesia

    M.J. Akbar

    November 25, 2009

British Dictionary definitions for tokenism



the practice of making only a token effort or doing no more than the minimum, esp in order to comply with a law
Derived Formstokenistic, 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 tokenism

1962, from token (adj.) in the integration sense + -ism.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper