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Borrowed from French individualisme; synchronically, individual +‎ -ism.


individualism (countable and uncountable, plural individualisms)

  1. The tendency for a person to act without reference to others, particularly in matters of style, fashion or mode of thought.
  2. The moral stance, political philosophy, or social outlook that promotes independence and self-reliance of individual people, while opposing the interference with each person's choices by society, the state, or any other group or institution.
    • 1920, Edward Carpenter, Pagan and Christian Creeds, New York: Harcourt, Brace and Co., page 165:
      [A]nd that one great and all-important occasion and provocative of these beliefs was actually the rise of self-consciousness — that is, the coming of the mind to a more or less distinct awareness of itself and of its own operation, and the consequent development and growth of Individualism, and of the Self-centred attitude in human thought and action.
  3. (logic) The doctrine that only individual things are real.
  4. (philosophy) The doctrine that nothing exists but the individual self.





  • OED2