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[meel-yuh-riz-uh m, mee-lee-uh-] /ˈmil yəˌrɪz əm, ˈmi li ə-/
the doctrine that the world tends to become better or may be made better by human effort.
Origin of meliorism
1855-60; < Latin melior better + -ism
Related forms
meliorist, noun, adjective
melioristic, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for meliorism
Historical Examples
  • meliorism,—the desire to better the conditions of life for themselves and for their children—animated them.

    The American Empire Scott Nearing
  • meliorism treats salvation as neither inevitable nor impossible.

    Pragmatism William James
  • So he becomes the eloquent apostle of meliorism, proclaiming his gospel without abatement.

    The Vitalized School Francis B. Pearson
  • As an inevitable result of all the influences that constitute his world he finds himself yearning for meliorism as the crownpiece.

    The Vitalized School Francis B. Pearson
  • Be they false or be they true, the meaning of them is this meliorism.

    Pragmatism William James
  • meliorism, the theory that there is in nature a tendency to better and better development.

    The Nuttall Encyclopaedia Edited by Rev. James Wood
British Dictionary definitions for meliorism


the notion that the world can be improved by human effort
Derived Forms
meliorist, adjective, noun
melioristic, adjective
Word Origin
C19: from Latin melior better
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 meliorism

"belief that the world tends to become better," 1868, from Latin melior (see meliorate) + -ism. Related: Meliorist (1835).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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