alone, hard work, strong

being alone, freedom, uniqueness

expression, self-esteem, courage

freedom, anarchy, alone

freedom, different, single, thought

freedom, uniqueness, deviation, nonconformist

Golum, eccentricity, something unique


important isolated statement

important, diversity, thrives at MIT

important, uniqueness


Individuals, Philosophy, Politics

myself, uniqueness, bizarre

pride, loneliness, strength

self, one, confidence, independence


self-determination creativity freedom

Solitary, Fortitude, Independence

solo, anti-social

strength, uniqueness, independence

unique, Western, difficult

US, fashion, artist

wonderful, opposite of loneliness


égoÏsme, solitude, avarice




égoïsme, retranchement,

égoïsme, lâcheté, discrimination

égoïsme, réalité

égoïsme, société, libéralisme

égoïsme,prêt à tout




égoisme retrait enfermement

égoisme, futile, états-unis

égoisme, tranquilité, solitaire




c'est une bonne chose parfois mais peut provoquer misanthropie

indépendant, valeur, autonome, solitaire

Personel , Radin, égocentrique

positif, solitude, tranquilité

seul, chacun pour soi, égoisme

seul, progrés

Solitaire ; Confiance

solitude, malheur, inutile

tranquilité, égoisme,

université, mentalité, France


Ici encore, il semble y avoir une différence de point de vue;en effet en général les américains associent individualisme à une sorte de réussite, de progrès, on retrouve plusieurs fois les mots "independence","freedom"et "important"; alors que du côté français on assimile en général individualisme à égoisme.Est ce que les français seraient plus solidaires que les Américains ? ou est- ce que dans la mentalité américaine, l'individualisme est quelque chose de positif et alors nous retrouvons ici le fameux "self made man".

Hi! I agree with your comments: I believe that the American meaning is along the lines of being self-made. I made some research and here is what I found: originally, the word had the same meaning in English as it currently has in French. However, the different history of France and US changed the meaning of the word. After the French revolution, the word was used with negative connotation to signify the reason for social upheaval: individual interest. On the other hand, the word become part of the American ideology in the 19th century meaning universalist and idealist. I believe this explains the different perceptions. What do you think?

I agree that the positive American connnotation with "individualism" has to do with the American ideal of a self-made man who shapes his own destiny. However, I think that for younger Americans (such as university students), individualism also has a lot to do with rejecting the status quo of your parents' society. Each generations seems to want to forge its own identity and break from the past (look at Presidential candidate Obama's popularity with college kids!). Individualism and the rejection of tradition is kind of a right of passage for young Americans.

Indeed, the the word individualism has a positive connotation in the American culture. This explains why the word is associated with positive words like "freedom","important" and "independence". This also speaks to the norms and values of the American society. I thought it was interesting that the word had a negative connotation in the French contexte. I believe the definition of the word in French is influenced by French history. What I am particularly curious about is whether the definition of the word has evolved over time to have a positive connotation? I ask this because some of the words cited such as "progres" and "tranquilite" have a positive connotation.

I agree with the above comments that, to an American, individualism connotes being self-made. As Raluca mentioned, the English word “individualism” previously meant selfish, and thus was similar to the French word “individualisme.” Over time, the word adopted a more positive connotation of freedom and uniqueness. I think that if the English word “selfishness” had been paired with “individualisme” for the word association test, the American responses would have been similar to the French responses.

I think that the French are probably not more interdependent than the Americans. We all rely on the goods, services, and friendships provided by the other members of our society. I think perhaps Americans are proud of their differences and that anyone can do anything they choose to. Innovators are highly respected, and even people with bizarre growths on their faces have their own TV shows. It's not satisfying for most Americans to be another face in the crowd, most people try to define themselves and stand out in one way or another.

I think Zachary's (or Zach's?) point was a good one, that "selfishness" is more comparable to the apparent connotation of "individualisme" in French. Also, along the lines of history, we are taught as young children about the ideals of John Locke and other enlightnment thinkers, and how these ideals enabled the triumphant formation of a new nation. Of course, these teachings have positive connotations, and I think that is another reason individualism is embedded within us as a good thing.

Merci pour cette précision étymologique Raluca !
Je pense en effet qu'à l'origine, les deux mots avaient la même signification et qu'avec le temps, ils ont changé de sens jusqu'à avoir une connotation complètement opposée !

I never knew "individualism" and the French "individualisme" had such different connotations. Is there a French word with a meaning more similar to "individualism" in English (because my dictionary only gives me "individualisme")? Also, how do French people perceive of the idea that the English word "individualism" suggests (uniqueness, independence)?

Yun Song, that is actually an interesting question that makes me ponder if there is an English synonym for the English meaning as well... Maybe self-made, unique, important, but none of them seem to be fully synonyms. Or furthermore, what would be a good English synonym for the French meaning? Or a French synonym for the English meaning?

I would not find it so strange if there is indeed no word that fits an exact translation of the American "individualism" as we understand it. I find this occurs many times between Hindi and English. I speak Hindi sometimes with my family or in India, and I find sometimes that I can articulate a specific thought or emotion in one language and cannot perfectly translate it to the other with the same essence. Perhaps this is a question linguists could address better than us amateurs? :)

Hi all. I agree with Arati. I don't think there is any one word in French that corresponds to the English definition of Individualism. Perhaps there is a phrase that has been coined to express "Individualism" as know it in English. All the same, I find it very interesting that the words have very different meanings in the English and French contexts.

Salut tout le monde ! alors après avoir lu vos réponses aux mots associés, j'ai constaté que l'individualisme était considéré comme bénéfique, comme quelque chose de bien en Amérique. Pourriez-vous expliquer pourquoi s'il vous plait ?
merci !!

En France, le mot 'individualisme' nous fait penser à "l'individu", et à quelqu'un qui ne vivrait que pour lui-même. Si on continue dans ce sens, on a l'idée d'égoïsme car vivre pour soi, c'est vivre sans aider les autres. On remarque une grande différence dans le thème de la solidarité, je pense que les deux termes sont très liés, en France.
Les Américains doivent sûrement penser à 'liberté' lorsqu'on leur parle d'invidualisme.

C'est vrai que du coté américain on peut remarquer que le mot "individualism" à un coté plutôt positif, pensez- vous qu'on puisse rejoindre l'idée d'individualism avec l'école? a savoir le travail individuel et dur amène la réussite en Amérique?Une question de compétiton moins prononcé en France? Je trouve qu'en France, on a plus la notion de partage(sans généraliser) qu d'individualisme (synonyme d'égoiste ici). c'est une question de culture et d'éducation, sûrement