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[uh-sen-shuh-liz-uh m] /əˈsɛn ʃəˌlɪz əm/
noun, Education
a doctrine that certain traditional concepts, ideals, and skills are essential to society and should be taught methodically to all students, regardless of individual ability, need, etc.
Compare progressivism.
1935-40; essential + -ism
Related forms
essentialist, noun, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for essentialism
  • These accidents are caused by essentialism, our ability to identify the essence of something pleasurable.
  • Taking this into consideration, it should be clear that the biological essentialism suggested by this article is obsolete.
British Dictionary definitions for essentialism


(philosophy) one of a number of related doctrines which hold that there are necessary properties of things, that these are logically prior to the existence of the individuals which instantiate them, and that their classification depends upon their satisfaction of sets of necessary conditions
the doctrine that education should concentrate on teaching basic skills and encouraging intellectual self-discipline
Derived Forms
essentialist, noun
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
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Word Origin and History for essentialism

1939, from essential + -ism. Related: Essentialist.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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