Definition of descriptivism in English:



  • The doctrine that the meanings of ethical or aesthetic terms and statements are purely descriptive rather than prescriptive, evaluative, or emotive.

    • ‘It's a bizarre tale about the passions stirred by what its critics saw as the dangerous shift, in the early 1960s, from prescriptivism to descriptivism in America's most authoritative dictionary.’
    • ‘American linguistics between the 1930s and 1950s was dominated by Bloomfieldian descriptivism.’
    • ‘The robust version of descriptive philosophy of science derives from, or superimposes upon, the conclusions of modest descriptivism, a theory about evaluative practice.’
    • ‘In practice, dictionaries take a middle course between wholehearted descriptivism and prescriptive edicts.’
    • ‘That's why I don't like the standard distinction between descriptivists and prescriptivists - descriptivism is what you should do when writing a dictionary, prescriptivism when writing a style guide.’