Definition of paternalism in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /pəˈtərnlˌizəm/


The policy or practice on the part of people in positions of authority of restricting the freedom and responsibilities of those subordinate to them in the subordinates' supposed best interest: the arrogance and paternalism that underlies cradle-to-grave employment contracts
More example sentences
  • Indeed, I do tend to question public policy arguments based on paternalism.
  • He remained throughout his life motivated by an abiding belief in the twin myths of racial paternalism and national mission.
  • They said that protectionism and paternalism would only harm producers from developing nations.



Pronunciation: /pəˈtərn(ə)ləst/
noun& adjective
Example sentences
  • But when it comes to children's diet, I am an out-and-out paternalist.
  • Is the philanthropist simply finding a socially acceptable way of being a paternalist?
  • In Column 4, we looked at the institutional means by which 19th century paternalists sought to ‘look after’ the child-like among us.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: pa·ter·nal·ism

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.