from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun Any of various theories or systems of social organization in which the means of producing and distributing goods is owned collectively or by a centralized government that often plans and controls the economy.
  • noun The stage in Marxist-Leninist theory intermediate between capitalism and communism, in which the means of production are collectively owned but a completely classless society has not yet been achieved.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun Any theory or system of social organization which would abolish, entirely or in great part, the individual effort and competition on which modern society rests, and substitute for it coöperative action, would introduce a more perfect and equal distribution of the products of labor, and would make land and capital, as the instruments and means of production, the joint possession of the members of the community.
  • noun that Christianity should be directly applied to the ordinary business of life, and that in view of this the present system of competition should give place to coöperative associations both productive and distributive, where all might work together as brothers;
  • noun that any outer change of the laborer's life, as aimed at in most socialistic schemes, would not suffice to settle the labor question, but that there must be an inner change brought about by education and elevation of character, especially through Christianity; and
  • noun that the aid of the state should not be invoked further than to remove all hostile legislation. A similar scheme appeared somewhat earlier in France. The doctrines of Christian socialism, or similar doctrines under the same name, have been frequently advocated in the United States.
  • noun Specifically, in Germany, legislation, supported by Prince Bismarck, intended to improve the condition of the working-man. Among the measures included were the insurance of workmen against accident, sickness, and old age, and the establishment of cooperative associations under state protection.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun A theory or system of social reform which contemplates a complete reconstruction of society, with a more just and equitable distribution of property and labor. In popular usage, the term is often employed to indicate any lawless, revolutionary social scheme. See communism, Fourierism, saint-simonianism, forms of socialism.
  • noun a term applied about 1872, at first in ridicule, to a group of German political economists who advocated state aid for the betterment of the working classes.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun Any of various economic and political philosophies that support social equality, collective decision-making, distribution of income based on contribution and public ownership of productive capital and natural resources, as advocated by socialists.
  • noun The socialist political philosophies as a group, including Marxism, libertarian socialism, democratic socialism, and social democracy.
  • noun Leninism The intermediate phase of social development between capitalism and full communism. This is a strategy whereby the state has control of all key resource-producing industries and manages most aspects of the economy, in contrast to laissez faire capitalism.

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

  • noun an economic system based on state ownership of capital
  • noun a political theory advocating state ownership of industry


from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Attested since 1832; either from French socialisme or from social +‎ -ism


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