: the belief that the world tends to improve and that humans can aid its betterment
Did You Know?
In 1877, British novelist George Eliot believed she had coined meliorist when she wrote, “I don’t know that I ever heard anybody use the word ‘meliorist’ except myself.” Her contemporaries credited her with coining both meliorist and meliorism, and one of her letters contains an early documented use of meliorism; however, there is evidence that meliorist had been around decades before she started using it. Whoever coined it did so by drawing on the Latin melior, meaning “better.” It is likely that the English coinages were also influenced by another melior descendant, meliorate, a synonym of ameliorate (“to make better or more tolerable”) that was introduced to English in the 1500s.
“Meliorism is that comfortable midway point between pessimism and optimism, wherein its possessor conceives of her actions as capable of bringing about a better future.” — Will Self, Prospect, 12 July 2019
“An old truism holds that the pessimist sees the glass as half-empty while the optimist sees it as half-full. But active and engaged people don’t bother to measure the contents of their cups. They savor what they’ve got, drink it down, then go looking for a refill. One name for this approach is meliorism. Meliorists want to make things better—to ameliorate them.” — Andrew Fiala, The Fresno (California) Bee, 10 Nov. 2017