Definition of minimalist in US English:



  • 1A person who advocates or practices minimalism in art or music.

    • ‘Off ice, he listens to mostly classical music from the minimalists like Philipp Glass and Steve Reich to the romantics of Tchaikovsky.’
    • ‘Although his latter-day works have been compared to those of Arvo Part and Henryk Gorecki, both best-selling minimalists, Tavener's music is different because of its immediate sweet-sounding appeal.’
    • ‘In its place shades of geometric minimalists, such as Josef Albers, were summoned.’
    • ‘He might even start to look like a serial modernist, or a kind of expressionistic minimalist.’
    • ‘In other words, Matta-Clark accomplishes with architecture an operation analogous to what the minimalists and the process artists accomplish with sculpture when they deprive it of its anthropomorphic and immortal aspects.’
  • 2A person advocating minor or moderate reform in politics.

    • ‘The minimalists claim that economic growth occurs when prices are right, a condition best achieved with little state action, for which they offer British and U.S. growth as proof.’
    • ‘As the referendum approached, longstanding splits between the minimalists and maximalists within the republican movement became significant.’
    • ‘Rather than expanding our understanding of national phyches, the shows tend to confirm commonly held stereotypes - of Swedes as rampantly egalitarian minimalists, for example.’
    • ‘Now, if libertarian minimalists do the latter, they would be taking issue with my policy views, not adopting them.’
    • ‘Libertarian minimalists must take the extra step to fashion a doctrine that debunks realism and supports their own foreign policy outlook.’


  • 1Relating to minimalism in art or music.

    • ‘In recent times, even minimalist composer Philip Glass tried his hand at the genre.’
    • ‘The beats on Revolutionary Vol.2 might seem a little minimalist to some, but Immortal is that caliber of emcee who needs no distractions when he's on the mic to make his words felt.’
    • ‘Bang on a Can often features, among other modern works, minimalist pieces by composers such as Steve Reich, Philip Glass, and the relatively young Mr Lang.’
    • ‘In the 1980s and 1990s, Torke's music was a synthesis of aggressive neo-classicism and minimalist influences, firmly rooted in tonality.’
    • ‘The revolving structure of the melody brings to mind minimalist composers Steve Reich and Philip Glass in its apparent simplicity, but subtle complexity.’
  • 2Advocating moderate political policies.

    • ‘During the postwar period, neoliberals have generally portrayed ‘free market’ countries as adhering to minimalist conceptions of the state.’
    • ‘Liberal thought depends on the strength of this protective function to justify its advocacy of the minimalist state.’
    • ‘The two formulae are only indicative of the maximalist and minimalist position.’
    • ‘The embedded liberalism of the early post War decades gave way to the unadulterated neo-classical economic policies which favoured a minimalist state and an enhanced role for the market.’
    • ‘I was a bit surprised to hear New Zealand First's Brian Donnelly say that the Government had behaved in a minimalist way in terms of the board.’
    • ‘A no vote in France would also put pressure on Mr Blair to find acceptable minimalist reforms or see the EU evolve into a diffuse multi-speed bloc.’
    • ‘It flows from the principle of autonomy and the minimalist notion of welfare already developed in Chapter 2 above.’
    • ‘They are people such as Anthony, a recent graduate from a British university, who is horrified that even the minimalist Kyoto agreement has been rejected by the world's biggest polluter, the United States.’
    • ‘The survival of civil society - of even a minimalist welfare state cannot be guaranteed if the state loses its capacity to collect tax.’
    • ‘This too is consistent with Poole's other writings, which advocate focused and even minimalist employment of firepower - both from a moral and a practical standpoint.’
    • ‘While the Court is clearly very reluctant to refuse EC law recognition to a principle which is important in a number of Member States, it has never expressly endorsed either a maximalist or a minimalist approach.’
    • ‘Appalled by judicial activism, he advocated a classical, minimalist role for the court after the tumult of the 1960s.’
    • ‘That statement was minimalist enough not to unduly anger ordinary Germans but was accepted and transformed by Israel to serve its own domestic and international political purposes.’
    • ‘All they had done, in reality, was to fight over the principle of republicanism and then endorse the minimalist head of state selection model from the Republic Advisory Committee Report.’
    • ‘Hyperglobalizers insist that the minimalist political order of the future will be determined by regional economies linked together in an almost seamless global web of production and exchange.’
    • ‘Accounts of European social policy generally still present a minimalist interpretation of EU involvement.’
    • ‘Even with a minimalist interpretation of democracy, the democratic concept of sovereignty would make a huge difference to the way we conduct world affairs.’
    • ‘My concern is that the Government did not take the opportunity to make some other changes to the bill at the time, and only took a very minimalist approach when it looked at making alterations.’
    • ‘I previously blogged on the Right Coast about the minimalist conception of federalism that appeared to animate Justice O'Connor's vote in that case.’
    • ‘The libertarian view is minimalist in its approach to criminalization: a person should be free to act in any way he/she chooses, unless his or her behavior victimizes others.’


Early 20th century: first used with reference to the Russian Mensheviks. Usage in art and music dates from the 1960s.