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[mer-i-tok-ruh-see] /ˌmɛr ɪˈtɒk rə si/
noun, plural meritocracies.
an elite group of people whose progress is based on ability and talent rather than on class privilege or wealth.
a system in which such persons are rewarded and advanced:
The dean believes the educational system should be a meritocracy.
leadership by able and talented persons.
Origin of meritocracy
1955-60; merit + -o- + -cracy
Related forms
[mer-i-tuh-krat-ik] /ˌmɛr ɪ təˈkræt ɪk/ (Show IPA),
adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for meritocratic
  • Hacker culture is also extremely open and meritocratic.
  • No questions asked, no meritocratic credentials checked.
  • Hacker culture is also extremely open and meritocratic.
  • To suggest that there is some mark of distinction between the tenured and the untenured is to reinforce a meritocratic lie.
  • Today's super-rich are different from yesterday's: more hardworking and meritocratic, but less connected to their nations.
  • But one need not be among their number to feel uneasy about the tests and the meritocratic philosophy they represent.
  • It's only natural that fantastical settings should, at some point, apply those same meritocratic principles to gender.
  • The students' ambitions are those of a well-trained meritocratic elite.
  • True, none of this meritocratic striving is proof of moral toughness.
  • It's a validation of your place in the meritocratic spectrum.
British Dictionary definitions for meritocratic


noun (pl) -cies
rule by persons chosen not because of birth or wealth, but for their superior talents or intellect
the persons constituting such a group
a social system formed on such a basis
Derived Forms
meritocrat, noun
meritocratic (ˌmɛrɪtəˈkrætɪk) adjective
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 meritocratic



coined 1958 by British sociologist Michael Young (1915-2002) and used in title of his book, "The Rise of the Meritocracy"; from merit (n.) + -cracy. Related: Meritocratic.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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meritocratic in Culture
meritocracy [(mer-i-tok-ruh-see)]

A government or society in which citizens who display superior achievement are rewarded with positions of leadership. In a meritocracy, all citizens have the opportunity to be recognized and advanced in proportion to their abilities and accomplishments. The ideal of meritocracy has become controversial because of its association with the use of tests of intellectual ability, such as the Scholastic Aptitude Test, to regulate admissions to elite colleges and universities. Many contend that an individual's performance on these tests reflects his or her social class and family environment more than ability.

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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