Definitions

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

  • n. Any of various theories or systems of social organization in which the means of producing and distributing goods is owned collectively or by a centralized government that often plans and controls the economy.
  • n. The stage in Marxist-Leninist theory intermediate between capitalism and communism, in which collective ownership of the economy under the dictatorship of the proletariat has not yet been successfully achieved.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Any of various economic and political philosophies that support social equality, collective decision-making, distribution of income based on contribution and public ownership of productive capital and natural resources, as advocated by socialists.
  • n. The socialist political philosophies as a group, including Marxism, libertarian socialism, democratic socialism, and social democracy.
  • n. The intermediate phase of social development between capitalism and full communism. This is a strategy whereby the state has control of all key resource-producing industries and manages most aspects of the economy, in contrast to laissez faire capitalism.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A theory or system of social reform which contemplates a complete reconstruction of society, with a more just and equitable distribution of property and labor. In popular usage, the term is often employed to indicate any lawless, revolutionary social scheme. See communism, Fourierism, saint-simonianism, forms of socialism.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. Any theory or system of social organization which would abolish, entirely or in great part, the individual effort and competition on which modern society rests, and substitute for it coöperative action, would introduce a more perfect and equal distribution of the products of labor, and would make land and capital, as the instruments and means of production, the joint possession of the members of the community.
  • n. that Christianity should be directly applied to the ordinary business of life, and that in view of this the present system of competition should give place to coöperative associations both productive and distributive, where all might work together as brothers;
  • n. that any outer change of the laborer's life, as aimed at in most socialistic schemes, would not suffice to settle the labor question, but that there must be an inner change brought about by education and elevation of character, especially through Christianity; and
  • n. that the aid of the state should not be invoked further than to remove all hostile legislation. A similar scheme appeared somewhat earlier in France. The doctrines of Christian socialism, or similar doctrines under the same name, have been frequently advocated in the United States.
  • n. Specifically, in Germany, legislation, supported by Prince Bismarck, intended to improve the condition of the working-man. Among the measures included were the insurance of workmen against accident, sickness, and old age, and the establishment of cooperative associations under state protection.

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

  • n. an economic system based on state ownership of capital
  • n. a political theory advocating state ownership of industry

Etymologies

Attested since 1832; either from French socialisme or from social +‎ -ism (Wiktionary)

Examples

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