modern character, tendencies, or values; adherence to or sympathy with what is modern.
a modern usage or characteristic.
(initial capital letter) Theology.

the movement in Roman Catholic thought that sought to interpret the teachings of the Church in the light of philosophic and scientific conceptions prevalent in the late 19th and early 20th centuries: condemned by Pope Pius X in 1907.
the liberal theological tendency in Protestantism in the 20th century.

(sometimes initial capital letter) a deliberate philosophical and practical estrangement or divergence from the past in the arts and literature occurring especially in the course of the 20th century and taking form in any of various innovative movements and styles.
Contemporary Examples

There, the firm NBBJ has fashioned an homage to mid-century West Coast modernism.
Obama’s Building Boom: Will His Architecture Legacy Be as Lasting as FDR’s? Ian Volner January 3, 2011

But in America, born free of any aristocracy, the arrival of modernism and egalitarianism was a far more gentle affair.
Can We Divorce Our Elites? James Poulos April 12, 2014

modernism aimed to bring about a new future, and kids were conceived as its population.
Pint-Size Masterpiece Blake Gopnik August 7, 2012

His early artistic explorations had emulated and appropriated the entire cast of European modernism.
Man Ray Revealed Philip Gefter November 11, 2009

Its Matisses and Picassos provide a lovely lesson on the birth of modernism.
When Modern Art Was Impossible Stuff Blake Gopnik April 12, 2012

Historical Examples

The recent struggle against Kantian and fideist modernism is a struggle for life.
Tragic Sense Of Life Miguel de Unamuno

We know him well: Xenophon’s modernism comes out in these things.
Cyropaedia Xenophon

In the youthful flush of her modernism she was impatient with that fumbling around with what other men had thought.
Lifted Masks Susan Glaspell

But now all is crumbling before the poisonous onslaught of modernism.
Sugar Plum Reginald Bretnor

Like most industrial countries, Austria is plagued with issues which follow in the wake of modernism—whatever that term may imply.
Bohemia under Hapsburg Misrule Various

modern tendencies, characteristics, thoughts, etc, or the support of these
something typical of contemporary life or thought
a 20th-century divergence in the arts from previous traditions, esp in architecture See International Style
(capital) (RC Church) the movement at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries that sought to adapt doctrine to the supposed requirements of modern thought

1737, “deviation from the ancient and classical manner” [Johnson, who calls it “a word invented by Swift”], from modern + -ism. From 1830 as “modern ways and styles.” Used in theology since 1901. As a movement in the arts (away from classical or traditional modes), from 1929.


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