Definition: Individualism

From New World Encyclopedia


Borrowed from French individualisme. By surface analysis, individual (from Medieval Latin indīviduālis, from Latin indīviduum (“an indivisible thing”), neuter of indīviduus (“indivisible, undivided”), from in + dīviduus (“divisible”), from dīvidō (“divide”)) + -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.
  3. (logic) The doctrine that only individual things are real.
  4. (philosophy) The doctrine that nothing exists but the individual self.

Derived terms

  • anarcho-individualism
  • rugged individualism


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