Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary


noun fas·cism \ˈfa-ˌshi-zəm also ˈfa-ˌsi-\

Simple Definition of fascism

  • : a way of organizing a society in which a government ruled by a dictator controls the lives of the people and in which people are not allowed to disagree with the government

  • : very harsh control or authority

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of fascism

  1. 1 often capitalized :  a political philosophy, movement, or regime (as that of the Fascisti) that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition

  2. 2 :  a tendency toward or actual exercise of strong autocratic or dictatorial control <early instances of army fascism and brutality — J. W. Aldridge>


play \-shist also -sist\ noun or adjective often capitalized


play \fa-ˈshis-tik also -ˈsis-\ adjective often capitalized


play \-ti-k(ə-)lē\ adverb often capitalized

Examples of fascism in a sentence

  1. From the first hours of Hitler's invasion of the Soviet Union, the propagandists on both sides of the conflict portrayed the struggle in stark, Manichaean language. The totalitarian nature of both regimes made this inevitable. On one side stood Hitler, fascism, the myth of German supremacy; on the other side stood Stalin, communism, and the international proletarian revolution. —Anne Applebaum, New York Review of Books, 25 Oct. 2007

  2. Consider what happened during the crisis of global fascism. At first, even the truth about Hitler was inconvenient. Many in the west hoped the danger would simply go away. —Al Gore, An Inconvenient Truth, 2006

  3. He collected stories about groups similar to his—Aryans, other Nazis, the KKK. Lately, he'd been flagging many stories from Germany and Eastern Europe, and was quite thrilled with the rise of fascism there. —John Grisham, The Chamber, 1995

  4. the rise of Fascism in Europe before World War II

Did You Know?

The English words fascism and fascist are borrowings from Italian fascismo and fascista, derivatives of fascio (plural fasci), “bundle, fasces, group.” Fascista was first used in 1914 to refer to members of a fascio, or political group. In 1919, fascista was applied to the black-shirted members of Benito Mussolini’s organization, the Fasci di combattimento (“combat groups”), who seized power in Italy in 1922. Playing on the word fascista, Mussolini’s party adopted the fasces, a bundle of rods with an ax among them, as a symbol of the Italian people united and obedient to the single authority of the state. The English word fascist was first used for members of Mussolini’s fascisti, but it has since been generalized to those of similar beliefs.

Origin and Etymology of fascism

Italian fascismo, from fascio bundle, fasces, group, from Latin fascis bundle & fasces fasces

First Known Use: 1921

FASCISM Defined for Kids


noun , often cap fas·cism \ˈfa-ˌshi-zəm\

Definition of fascism for Students

  1. :  a political system headed by a dictator in which the government controls business and labor and opposition is not permitted

Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up fascism? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a sculptured or ornamented band

Get Word of the Day daily email!


Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!

  • bride-of-dracula-in-cat-form-surrounded-by-candles-and-somewhat-bewilderingly-orange-sacks-instead-of-surely-much-cheaper-and-easier-to-find-actual-pumpkins
  • Which is a synonym of phlegmatic?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.