Definition of Protestant ethic in US English:

Protestant ethic

(also Protestant work ethic)


  • The view that a person's duty is to achieve success through hard work and thrift, such success being a sign that one is saved.

    • ‘Indeed, the Huguenots symbolised the Protestant work ethic and, with their business acumen, became the midwives of British capitalism.’
    • ‘The Protestant ethic may issue in hard work, asceticism, and an always unsatisfied striving for material betterment, but doesn't capitalism also foster ingenuity and inventiveness?’
    • ‘Moreover, there's a form of social solidarity in the Protestant ethic - a sense of doing one's part, treating other people fairly, with decency, and not (as would a confidence man) like chumps.’
    • ‘They will not subject themselves to the severe and demanding tests of character imposed on individuals by one or another version of the Protestant ethic.’
    • ‘One such question is whether the Protestant ethic might have functional counterparts in other religious traditions.’
    • ‘In a 2001 address to the Catholic Theological Society of America, the cardinal said that a nation shaped by the Protestant ethic is in danger of degenerating into a kind of unbridled secular individualism.’
    • ‘The religious background of the school may have become less important over the years, but the Protestant work ethic and a demand for the very highest levels of achievement has remained.’
    • ‘Future research plans emphasize the topic that excited the German social scientist Max Weber in his famous book on the Protestant ethic and capitalism: How does religion promote or deter economic development?’
    • ‘The Protestant work ethic is just oozing through our technological lives.’
    • ‘Your views sound closer to a Protestant ethic of the direct relationship between the individual and the God; is that true in a sense of indigenous belief, that you have a direct relationship with the Creator?’
    • ‘He personified the Protestant work ethic and the Prussian sense of duty.’
    • ‘We were ruined a bit by John Calvin or at least, misunderstandings of John Calvin and the Protestant work ethic that developed as a later part of the Reformation.’
    • ‘Part of it, too, may reflect Scotland's Calvinist legacy, a lean Presbyterian version of the Protestant work ethic, which Max Weber famously identified as the engine of modern capitalism.’
    • ‘I like the idea of this as a movement, because it seems we've had 200 years or so of dominance by the Anglo-Saxon Protestant work ethic and maybe it's time for a more Mediterranean attitude to life to spread itself around.’
    • ‘Reformers swept away the obscurantist ceremonies and the humiliating subservience to Rome and gave the country a national church, the Protestant work ethic, the Bible in English.’
    • ‘The rush and unrelenting work of the Protestant ethic can backfire when we damage forest soils and the forest does not regenerate; or we capture far too many juvenile redfish with the shrimp hauls and the redfish population collapses.’
    • ‘In my latest academic post here I show that the Protestant ethic is not dead and that to this day committed Protestants are more inclined to strive to better themselves materially.’
    • ‘In the early days of the market system, he argues, a Protestant ethic kept the unrestrained economic impulse of capitalism in check.’
    • ‘Rugged individualism and other tenets of the Protestant work ethic, the American creed and the American dream supported the notion that hard work would inevitably lead to success.’
    • ‘‘This is a revised view of the Protestant ethic,’ he continued.’


Translating German die protestantische Ethik, coined (1904) by the economist Max Weber in his thesis on the relationship between the teachings of Calvin and the rise of capitalism.


Protestant ethic

/ˈprɑdəstənt ˈɛθɪk/