from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A theoretical economic system characterized by the collective ownership of property and by the organization of labor for the common advantage of all members.
  • n. A system of government in which the state plans and controls the economy and a single, often authoritarian party holds power, claiming to make progress toward a higher social order in which all goods are equally shared by the people.
  • n. The Marxist-Leninist version of Communist doctrine that advocates the overthrow of capitalism by the revolution of the proletariat.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Any political philosophy or ideology advocating holding the production of resources collectively.
  • n. Any political social system that implements a communist political philosophy.
  • n. The international socialist society where classes and the state no longer exist.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A scheme of equalizing the social conditions of life; specifically, a scheme which contemplates the abolition of inequalities in the possession of property, as by distributing all wealth equally to all, or by holding all wealth in common for the equal use and advantage of all.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. An economic system, or theory, which rests upon the total or partial abolition of the right of private property, actual ownership being ascribed to the community as a whole or to the state.
  • n. Communalism.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a political theory favoring collectivism in a classless society
  • n. a form of socialism that abolishes private ownership


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

French communisme, from commun, common, from Old French, from Latin commūnis; see commune2.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

A calque of the German word Kommunismus (from Marx and Engels's Manifesto of the German Communist Party), in turn a calque of the French word communisme, which was formed from commun ("common"), from Latin communis, and the suffix -isme ("-ism").


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  • Hess had introduced Marx to the term communism, and now Marx had convinced Hess that the definition of communism had to come out of an understanding of political economy.


  • In the 1840s the term communism came into use to denote loosely a militant leftist form of socialism; it was associated with the writings of Étienne Cabet and his theories of common ownership.

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  • Stalin reserves the term communism exclusively to what Marx called the "higher phase" of communism.

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  • There exists a popular error to the effect that what we call communism and socialism in Western civilization are modern growths, representing aspiration toward some perfect form of democracy.

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