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I know that "conservatism" is the more commonly used term, but is "conservativism" a less preferred, but legitimate word, or just a misspelling?

www.dictionary.com has "conservativism", but I'm not sure I view them as a credible source.

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

Merriam-Webster does not list conservativism, but Wiktionary does:

conservativism

  1. Alternative form of conservatism.

Conservativism is surely not a typo (as, say, consrvetism would be). It is legitimately formed from the adjective conservative and the suffix -ism. However, as you say yourself, conservatism is the much more commonly used term. The British National Corpus has 474 cites for conservatism, but only 3 for conservativism.

That being said, there are languages (e.g. German) in which the equivalent of conservativism (Konservativismus) is pretty much as common as the equivalent of conservatism (Konservatismus).

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Merriam-Webster does not contain conservativism, and I'd say that's a pretty credible source.

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