co·​lo·​nial·​ism | \kə-ˈlō-nē-ə-ˌli-zəm, -nyə-ˌli-\

Definition of colonialism 

1 : the quality or state of being colonial

2 : something characteristic of a colony

3a : control by one power over a dependent area or people the colonialism of the British Empire

b : a policy advocating or based on such control Colonialism was brought to an end in the country.

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Other Words from colonialism

colonialist \kə-​ˈlō-​nē-​ə-​list, -​nyə-​list \ noun or adjective
colonialistic \kə-​ˌlō-​nē-​ə-​ˈli-​stik, -​nyə-​ˈli-​ \ adjective

Examples of colonialism in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

This way of seeing the West reproduces the iconography of settler colonialism. Kainaz Amaria, Vox, "National Geographic’s November cover falls back on a racist cliché," 1 Nov. 2018 Syhabout was born in northeast Thailand in the Lao-majority region of Isan, which was historically part of the Lan Xang Kingdom, the pre-French colonialism precursor of Laos. NBC News, "This Michelin chef came to the U.S. as a refugee. Now, he's living the American Dream.," 22 Jan. 2018 Kuti was despised by Nigeria's military rulers for his controversial songs that mocked corrupt officials, criticized colonialism and encouraged Nigerians to question their leaders' lavish spending. Siobhán O'grady, Washington Post, "Macron loosens up trip to Nigeria with visit to legendary Lagos nightclub," 4 July 2018 In Puerto Rico, that strategy works in collaboration with systemic, long-standing colonialism. Jhoni Jackson, Teen Vogue, "Puerto Rico's Recovery Efforts Continue a Half Year After Hurricane Maria," 16 Apr. 2018 Indoctrinated into Kenyan anti-colonialism by his absent father, Obama was trying to bankrupt the U.S. as a means of shifting the balance of global power to the developing world. Eric Levitz, Daily Intelligencer, "Trump Pardons Dinesh D’Souza, in Triumph for Social Justice," 31 May 2018 In 1962, however, the day was changed to June 12 in light of rising Filipino nationalism and resentment toward prior American colonialism. Caroline Simon, USA TODAY, "9 things you didn't know about the Fourth of July," 3 July 2018 The controversy took place at Stanford University and involves Niall Ferguson, a controversial historian known for his defenses of British colonialism. Zack Beauchamp, Vox, "A conservative Stanford professor plotted to dig up dirt on a liberal student," 1 June 2018 Africa's push for independence from colonialism, which mirrored King's movement for racial equality in America, attracted his support. Rodney Muhumuza, Fox News, "Martin Luther King Jr.'s work still resonates across Africa," 2 Apr. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'colonialism.' 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 colonialism

1864, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for colonialism

see colony

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Last Updated

18 Nov 2018

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Time Traveler for colonialism

The first known use of colonialism was in 1864

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English Language Learners Definition of colonialism

: control by one country over another area and its people

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More from Merriam-Webster on colonialism

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with colonialism

Britannica English: Translation of colonialism for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about colonialism

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living or existing for a long time

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