Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

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.

share|improve this question

3 Answers 3

up vote 7 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).

share|improve this answer
2  
Just to add to your answer: the OED lists this as an alternative spelling: oed.com/view/Entry/39572#eid8588960, although it records conservatism as being the older word. –  Jascol Jul 16 at 13:13
    
I think OED beats wiktionary - suggest the answer be updated as @jascol suggests. –  EleventhDoctor 2 days ago

The English dictionary in Microsoft's 2013 Office suite does not question conservativism.

share|improve this answer
1  
It's good to know that Microsoft does not question conservativism. –  Hot Licks Jul 16 at 12:32
    
I don't think that is an authoritative source on this site. –  EleventhDoctor Jul 16 at 15:13
1  
No offense @robocliff but I think this source is even less reputable than the questioned-by-OP dictionary.com! –  Caleb Bernard Jul 16 at 17:25

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

share|improve this answer
1  
OED does, and I'd say that's a pretty credible source. –  Edwin Ashworth Jul 16 at 21:04

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.