verb, often capitalized
bal·​kan·​ize | \ ˈbȯl-kə-ˌnīz How to pronounce balkanize (audio) \
balkanized; balkanizing

Definition of balkanize

transitive verb

1 : to break up (a region, a group, etc.) into smaller and often hostile units opposes the partition of Germany, and holds that the economic consequences of Balkanizing the country would be seriousTimes Literary Supplement
2 : divide, compartmentalize now pop culture has been balkanized; it is full of niches, with different groups watching and playing their own things— Richard Corliss

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Other Words from balkanize

balkanization \ ˌbȯl-​kə-​nə-​ˈzā-​shən How to pronounce balkanization (audio) \ noun, often capitalized

Did You Know?

The Balkan Peninsula of southeastern Europe is named for the Balkan Mountains, which stretch through Bulgaria from its western border with Serbia to the Black Sea. (Balkan derives from a Turkish word that means "mountain.") The region known as the Balkans is commonly thought to include Albania, Greece, Romania, the European portion of Turkey, and often surrounding areas. The decline of the Ottoman Empire in the 18th century led to a series of revolts that accelerated the fracturing of the region into a number of smaller states whose unstable coexistence led to violence that came to a head in World War I. Since 1919, balkanize and its related noun, balkanization have come to refer to the kind of divisive action that can weaken countries or groups, as well as other things.

Examples of balkanize in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Although our national reliance on shrill identity politics and our loud public shaming of dissenters has had the effect of balkanizing us at an ever-increasing and dangerous rate. John Kass,, "Column: Illinois After Boss Mike Madigan? Like Yugoslavia After Tito," 17 July 2019 And even the objection to the Yamamoto name seems sadly characteristic of America’s balkanized culture. Jason Willick, WSJ, "A Case of Mistaken Identity Politics in the Heart of Silicon Valley," 29 Dec. 2018 Now a country in the process of expanding its first-person plural becomes more inclusive and, at the same time, more balkanized. Lance Morrow, WSJ, "Shall We Have Civil War or Second Thoughts?," 17 Aug. 2018 Politicians balkanizing the nation in order to empower themselves and their party and so forth. Fox News, "Author Shelby Steele on race relations, equality in America," 16 July 2018 Zones of transmission planning are balkanized and inefficiently small. David Roberts, Vox, "A massive new study confirms a national energy grid would pay for itself.," 3 Aug. 2018 Social media, the internet and the rise of other populist, balkanizing technologies are now calling Madison’s constitutional vision into question. WSJ, "Five Best: Jeffrey Rosen," 16 Mar. 2018 In the 1800s, unions covered only a small fraction of workers and were balkanized and relatively weak. Jay L. Zagorsky, Smithsonian, "Striking Union Workers Turned the First Labor Day into a Networking Event," 1 Sep. 2017 Even so, the sports universe is heavily balkanized online, meaning your best bet at comprehensive streaming of pro football will involve that old standby — a cable or satellite TV subscription — or cellphone service through Verizon. Anick Jesdanun,, "Ready for some football? All NFL games will air online, but watching won't be easy," 7 Sep. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'balkanize.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of balkanize

1918, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for balkanize

Balkan Peninsula

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Last Updated

28 Jul 2019

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Time Traveler for balkanize

The first known use of balkanize was in 1918

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authorized for issue (as a bond)

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