1904, "pacifism, rejection of war and violence as a matter of principle," 1904, from pacific + -ism. Fowler, in 1926, wrote that the longer form was better, "but its chances of ousting the wrong form are small."
But pacificism gradually evolved a sense distinct from pacifism, "advocacy of a peaceful policy as a first resort or in a particular instance." Since the 19th century the international peace movement has included absolutists (who believe war can be totally and immediately repudiated) and moderates who see the abolition of war as a gradual process of promoting international systems and reforming nations and who believe that, until then, defensive military force may be needed to protect reforms. The use of pacificist for the latter was suggested in 1957 by British historian and nuclear-disarmament activist A.J.P. Taylor. Related: Pacificist.