Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. An economic system in which the means of production and distribution are privately or corporately owned and development is proportionate to the accumulation and reinvestment of profits gained in a free market.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. a socio-economic system based on private property rights, including the private ownership of resources or capital, with economic decisions made largely through the operation of a market unregulated by the state.
  • n. a socio-economic system based on the abstraction of resources into the form of privately-owned capital, with economic decisions made largely through the operation of a market unregulated by the state.
  • n. a specific variation or implementation of either such socio-economic system.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. An economic system based on predominantly private (individual or corporate) investment in and ownership of the means of production, distribution, and exchange of goods and wealth; contrasted with socialism or especially communism, in which the state has the predominant role in the economy.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. The state of having capital or property; possession of capital.
  • n. The concentration or massing of capital in the hands of a few; also, the power or influence of large or combined capital.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. an economic system based on private ownership of capital

Etymologies

From French capitalisme ("the condition of one who is rich"). First used in English by novelist William Thackeray in 1854. (Wiktionary)

Examples

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Comments

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  • I have enough expertise in politics and history to understand that a free market ends up as monopoly unless you force them to be free.

    WikiLeaks is designed to make capitalism more free and ethical.

    December 4, 2010

  • "“In the Soviet Union, capitalism triumphed over communism. In this country, capitalism triumphed over democracy.�? - Fran Lebowitz

    March 17, 2009

  • "The law does not pretend to punish everything that is dishonest. That would seriously interfere with business." - Clarence S. Darrow

    July 30, 2008