Meritocracy is the belief — or a social system founded on that belief — that rulers should be chosen for their abilities rather than for their wealth or family tree.

  • Pronunciation: /'mɛrɪ'tɑkrəsi/
  • English description: the belief that rulers should be chosen for their superior abilities and not because of their wealth or birth
  • Chinese Translation:  英才教育(ying1 cai2 jiao4 yu4
  • Spanish Translation: la meritocracia
  • ORIGIN: Meritocracy, coined in 1958 by Michael Young, is a combination of merit ("goodness worthy of praise or reward") and aristocracy, meaning "the highest class in certain societies." In a government based on meritocracy, the leaders are chosen because they are the smartest and have best judgment. They can come from the poorest, most humble background just as long as they are the most noble and fit to rule.


  • Universities like to think of themselves as meritocracies.
  • It has a strong internal culture which emphasizes training, meritocracy and decentralized decision-making.

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