1. the doctrine advocating social, political, and all other rights of women equal to those of men.
  2. (sometimes initial capital letter) an organized movement for the attainment of such rights for women.
  3. Older Use. feminine character.


  1. a doctrine or movement that advocates equal rights for women

1851, “state of being feminine;” sense of “advocacy of women’s rights” is 1895, from French féminisme (1837); see feminine + -ism.

The doctrine — and the political movement based on it — that women should have the same economic, social, and political rights as men. (See under “Anthropology, Psychology, and Sociology.”)

A movement for granting women political, social, and economic equality with men. (See women’s movement.)

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