individualism

[in-duh-vij-oo-uh-liz-uhm]
noun
1.
a social theory advocating the liberty, rights, or independent action of the individual.
2.
the principle or habit of or belief in independent thought or action.
3.
the pursuit of individual rather than common or collective interests; egoism.
4.
individual character; individuality.
5.
an individual peculiarity.
6.
Philosophy.
a.
the doctrine that only individual things are real.
b.
the doctrine or belief that all actions are determined by, or at least take place for, the benefit of the individual, not of society as a whole.

Origin:
1825–35; individual + -ism

overindividualism, noun
superindividualism, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Collins
World English Dictionary
individualism (ˌɪndɪˈvɪdjʊəˌlɪzəm)
 
n
1.  the action or principle of asserting one's independence and individuality; egoism
2.  an individual quirk or peculiarity
3.  another word for laissez faire
4.  philosophy Platonism Compare realism the doctrine that only individual things exist and that therefore classes or properties have no reality

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Etymonline
Word Origin & History

individualism
"self-centered feeling," 1827, from individual + -ism. As a social philosophy (opposed to communism and socialism) first attested 1851 in writings of J.S. Mill.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Cultural Dictionary

individualism definition


A view that stresses the importance and worth of each person. In economics, it is the doctrine that individuals best serve the public interest by pursuing their own self-interest. For example, the businessman who expands his company to increase his profits also creates jobs for many people and thereby serves the public interest. (See laissez-faire.)

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Example sentences
But so does the elimination of individualism, whether by law or custom.
Therefore a simple and poor society can exist as a democracy on a basis of
  sheer individualism.
And his response: what's lacking in our nation is radical individualism.
The implications are disheartening enough for a product that pretty much stands
  for proud individualism.
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