co·​lo·​nial·​ism | \ kə-ˈlō-nē-ə-ˌli-zəm How to pronounce colonialism (audio) , -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 How to pronounce colonialism (audio) , -​nyə-​list \ noun or adjective
colonialistic \ kə-​ˌlō-​nē-​ə-​ˈli-​stik How to pronounce colonialism (audio) , -​nyə-​ˈli-​ \ adjective

Examples of colonialism in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The preference for milk can be seen as a hangover from British colonialism (in Hong Kong and Myanmar) or trade connections (in Taiwan and Thailand). The Economist, "What is the Milk Tea Alliance?," 24 Mar. 2021 Even in the aftermath of colonialism, however, fossils from across the globe still tend to end up in American and European museums. New York Times, "Decolonizing the Hunt for Dinosaurs and Other Fossils," 22 Mar. 2021 Make no mistake, the age of colonialism is over, and good riddance. Cameron Hilditch, National Review, "The Hokey-Pokey Hegemon," 14 Mar. 2021 One commonality in all of the stories of colonialism’s relationship with indigeneity is the disconnection of Indigenous knowledge from its larger cosmology. Popular Science, "In Hawaii, an ancient observatory offers lessons for modern stargazers," 9 Mar. 2021 The answer, director Michael Haneke has said, is ultimately less important than the other questions the plot raises — questions of guilt, colonialism, and historical memory. Alison Willmore, Vulture, "The 101 Greatest Endings in Movies History," 22 Feb. 2021 The confident, defiant person in that leather dress was about to clash with the history of colonialism, institutional sexism, racist immigration policy and present-day structural violence. Celina Caesar-chavannes,, "How Celina Caesar-Chavannes Took On Ottawa (& Trudeau) Her Way," 28 Jan. 2021 Protesters on both sides clashed over the removal of Christopher Columbus statues and other monuments representing colonialism, discrimination and enslavement in New Haven, Hartford and elsewhere. Michael Hamad,, "From the marches and protests to the special session and police accountability bill, here’s how Connecticut responded to George Floyd’s death," 29 Dec. 2020 Back in the days of slavery, Black people looked to divination as a salve amid the terror and violence — both physical and psychological — inflicted upon them by entrapment and colonialism. Stephanie Long,, "How Tarot & Astrology Became Black & Brown Women’s North Star," 28 Feb. 2021

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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Time Traveler for colonialism

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The first known use of colonialism was in 1864

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Statistics for colonialism

Last Updated

14 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Colonialism.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Apr. 2021.

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More Definitions for colonialism



English Language Learners Definition of colonialism

: control by one country over another area and its people

More from Merriam-Webster on colonialism

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

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