Definitions

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

  • n. The inclination, especially in politics, to maintain the existing or traditional order.
  • n. A political philosophy or attitude emphasizing respect for traditional institutions, distrust of government activism, and opposition to sudden change in the established order.
  • n. The principles and policies of the Conservative Party in the United Kingdom or of the Progressive Conservative Party in Canada.
  • n. Caution or moderation, as in behavior or outlook.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A political philosophy that advocates traditional values.
  • n. A risk-averse attitude or approach.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The disposition and tendency to preserve what is established; opposition to change; the habit of mind; or conduct, of a conservative.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. The disposition to maintain and adhere to the established order of things; opposition to innovation and change: as, the conservatism of the clergy.
  • n. The political principles and opinions maintained by Conservatives. See conservative, n.

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

  • n. a political or theological orientation advocating the preservation of the best in society and opposing radical changes

Etymologies

From Latin conservare ("to conserve; to keep, guard, observe"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • As many cringe when one hears the term conservatism, I must say I was impressed upon reading a question and answer article of two bank CEOs in Texas whose lending practices are more conservative than others.

    Citigroup must die in order to make way for stronger banks to thrive

  • Will the BBC run with that idea or will it instead continue to use the subtlety of language to associate the term conservatism with the worst dregs of radical Islam?

    Biased BBC

  • If the "conserve" in the term conservatism has to do with the conservation of civilizational values, then how does one define political stances when those values are already liberal by nature?

    On Thursday, the Legg report will be published along with...

  • I was weary of the people and what they called their conservatism, which is only a phase of stupidity.

    Half a Rogue

  • Last spring, as the presidential campaign was in full roar, Jonathan decided the term conservatism was so misused that he needed to write a book explaining it.

    Thoughts Of A Conservative Christian

  • As I composed yesterday's immoderate post on abortion, one of the things on my mind was that the various factions that loosely make up what we call conservatism's "right wing" have won at least one battle in the culture war.

    Archive 2009-06-01

  • As an alternative to what he called the conservatism of the New Deal,

    Retrieving the Democrats reason for existence

  • Your term conservatism suggests there is a deeper basis for choice than locating the thermometer near to where it can be read, which is what I suspect is the most important siting requirement.

    Roundup « Climate Audit

  • Well, the point which has been made by many people is that we never had conservatism in America; that is, what we call conservatism, Europeans always called liberalism.

    American Exceptionalism: A Double-Edged Sword

  • This conservatism is a North American fashion but Canadians I think are more comfortable within it than they were in the beads and bangles of the sixties.

    1979—The Year of the Referendum

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Comments

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  • "Conservatism discards Prescription, shrinks from Principle, disavows Progress; having rejected all respect for antiquity, it offers no redress for the present, and makes no preparation for the future."

    Benjamin Disraeli, Earl of Beaconsfield (1804-1881), Comingsby, ch. 5

    September 20, 2009