Definitions

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

  • n. Belief in the primary importance of the individual and in the virtues of self-reliance and personal independence.
  • n. Acts or an act based on this belief.
  • n. A doctrine advocating freedom from government regulation in the pursuit of a person's economic goals.
  • n. A doctrine holding that the interests of the individual should take precedence over the interests of the state or social group.
  • n. The quality of being an individual; individuality.
  • n. An individual characteristic; a quirk.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. The tendency for a person to act without reference to others, particularly in matters of style, fashion or mode of thought.
  • n. The moral stance, political philosophy, or social outlook that promotes independence and self-reliance of individual people, while opposing the interference with each person's choices by society, the state, or any other group or institution.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The quality of being individual; individuality; personality.
  • n. An excessive or exclusive regard to one's personal interest; self-interest; selfishness.
  • n. The principle, policy, or practice of maintaining individuality, or independence of the individual, in action; the theory or practice of maintaining the independence of individual initiative, action, and interests, as in industrial organization or in government.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. The quality of being distinct or individual; subsistence as a distinct entity; individual character.
  • n. Individuality or independence in action; the principle of acting according to one's own will or for one's own ends; individual as opposed to associate action or common interests.
  • n. Hence That theory of government which favors the non-interference of the state in the affairs of individuals: opposed to socialism or collectivism.
  • n. In logic: The tendency to the doctrine that nothing is real but individual things. The doctrine is, for example, that the laws of nature are not real, but only the things whose mode of behavior is formulated in these laws.
  • n. The doctrine of pure egoism, or that nothing exists but the individual self.

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

  • n. the doctrine that government should not interfere in commercial affairs
  • n. a belief in the importance of the individual and the virtue of self-reliance and personal independence
  • n. the quality of being individual

Etymologies

Sorry, no etymologies found.

Examples

  • We seem to be standing up for corporate profit, but defending our individualism is the straw man.

    Think Progress » Why George Washington would disagree with the right wing about health care’s constitutionality.

  • Indeed, just as Tocqueville had to coin the term individualism to describe the unique way he observed Americans relating to one another in society, he also invented a concept that he called "the principle of interest rightly understood" to describe Americans 'moral code.

    The Freedom Fighter's Journal

  • They have treated students as members of competing racial groups rather than individuals, claiming that "individualism" is a form of "cultural racism."

    Balkinization

  • Perhaps rugged individualism is weakest in the church going states and strongest in the non-attending states.

    Matthew Yglesias » Clinging to Religion

  • For the purpose of my argument Rousseau was a romantic idealist who believed in individualism and and that the human condition was perfectible, and he was, in fact, these things.

    Matthew Yglesias » The Collapse of Latvia

  • You call it selfishness I call it individualism, and individualism is what made this country great.

    Matthew Yglesias » Victimization and Selfishness

  • They believe on the whole in individualism rather than tribalism, national patriotism rather than ethnic loyalty, meritocracy rather than nepotism, nuclear families rather than extended clans, law and fair play rather than privilege, corporations of strangers rather than mafias of relatives, and true love rather than the arranged marriages necessary to keep ethnic categories clear-cut.

    The Volokh Conspiracy » So a Libertarian and a Liberal Walk into a Bar

  • “They believe on the whole in individualism rather than tribalism, national patriotism rather than ethnic loyalty, meritocracy rather than nepotism, nuclear families rather than extended clans, law and fair play rather than privilege, corporations of strangers rather than mafias of relatives, and true love rather than the arranged marriages necessary to keep ethnic categories clear-cut.”

    The Volokh Conspiracy » So a Libertarian and a Liberal Walk into a Bar

  • I said, I am an individualist, and individualism is the hereditary and eternal foe of socialism.

    Chapter 29

  • This relatively new clash between marriage and individualism is discussed in Cherlin's new book — The Marriage-Go-Round: The State of Marriage and the Family in America Today, to be published in April.

    Sooner vs. later: Is there an ideal age for first marriage?

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