Or, you could say, a proponent of meritocracy (descriptors for opponents of meritocracy also welcome, see details below). Please don't say "meritocrat", I would rather avoid that one.

Nouns and adjectives are all welcome, single-word descriptions preferred, but two-word descriptions are fine too. The terms should also not rely on reference to other ideologies or political systems, like many thesauri seem to.

A bit of background: I'm in the process of describing a list of personal values, assigning an adjective or noun to various levels of these values. The descriptions go both ways, that is the range should describe anything from people to whom this value is extremely (quite possibly too) important to people who are actively opposed to it.

As an example, one of them is "Individuality", for which I came up with the following range, from lowest to highest:
doctrinal, conformist, conventionalist, individualist, egocentric, narcissist

One of the values on that list is merit, i.e. how much a person believes how important personal achievements should be for societal progress. And... I can't find any meaningful descriptors for such a mindset, and the thesauri seem to be somewhat empty in that regard. I would appreciate any help.

As an interesting side note, I had much less trouble finding descriptors for people that value social status, as in proponents of Aristocracy. I guess the idea of a meritocracy hasn't been around in our culture for too long...

  • Morality, goodness, rightness, correctness - a character proper behaviour. Feb 23, 2019 at 11:48
  • Those assume that meritocracy is already considered good and moral... I'm looking for terms that do not reference a predefined moral framweork. Like, for example, if I'd describe a person that highly values wealth as "greedy", that has connotations in the moral framework, but it doesn't rely on the moral framework for its primary meaning. It would still communicate this core meaning even if e.g. a Ferengi said it, it would just bear different moral connotations. It's words like that I'm looking for.
    – UncleBob
    Feb 23, 2019 at 12:07
  • 1
    Found 'reputationism' on Wikitionary, except there is no linked page or definition to its related term 'reputationist'.
    – Lordology
    Feb 23, 2019 at 12:37
  • 1
    Huh... not very established it seems, but the most solid term I've seen so far. Thanks!
    – UncleBob
    Feb 23, 2019 at 13:08
  • 1
    @UncleBob So you are looking for several words that relate to how one values merit, from least to most? E.g., nepotistic at one end to monomaniacally meritocratic at the other? I think you'll have trouble trying to create gradations using words rather than numbers, as the named deviations from pure meritocracy are not quantitative. There are categories of deviation - sexism, racism, experience, friendship, etc. - but any or all of these could co-exist. The thing calls for a 1-10 scale. (Not trying to tell you how to do your business, just saying how unsuited language is to the task.)
    – remarkl
    Feb 23, 2019 at 23:01

1 Answer 1


In fitting with your theme:

  • “Egalitarian” describes the person personifying meritocracy. “Elitist” would be an antonym.
  • Other words that pop up along this path are “democratic” and “dictatorial”
  • “Appointed” and “elected” may also apply.
  • I thought about egalitarian, but had some issues with it because while it is accurate if for egalitarians that advocate equality of opportunity it fits, but egalitarians advocating equality of outcome are not meritocratic at all... In any case, I have thought a lot about this and concluded that there's simply no words describing what I want accurately, so I'm currently restructuring my values list into something more generic with less overlap.
    – UncleBob
    Feb 27, 2019 at 10:08

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