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From Latin melior (better) +‎ -ism. Reportedly coined by British author George Eliot in her letters, published in 1877.


  • (UK) IPA(key): /ˈmiːlɪəɹɪz(ə)m/


meliorism (plural meliorisms)

  1. The view or doctrine that the world can be improved through human effort (often understood as an intermediate outlook between optimism and pessimism). [from 19th c.]
    • 1966 May 6, "Forever Beginning," Time:
      At the convention, the official mood was traditional Methodist meliorism.
    • 2002, Colin Jones, The Great Nation, Penguin 2003, page 371:
      Enclaves of meritocratic and virtuous sociability, the lodges exuded [...] a thoroughgoing meliorism.

Related terms[edit]


  • meliorism” in Unabridged, v1.0.1, Lexico Publishing Group, 2006.
  • meliorism” in Microsoft's Encarta World English Dictionary, North American Edition (2007)
  • "meliorism" at Rhymezone (Datamuse, 2006)
  • Oxford English Dictionary, second edition (1989)
  • Dictionary of Philosophy, Dagobert D. Runes (editor), Philosophical Library, 1962; see: "Meliorism" by Archie J. Bahm, page 195