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 colonialist (audio) , -​nyə-​list \ noun or adjective
colonialistic \ kə-​ˌlō-​nē-​ə-​ˈli-​stik How to pronounce colonialistic (audio) , -​nyə-​ˈli-​ \ adjective

Examples of colonialism in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web There have been calls to remove several other statues of historical figures who supported slavery and colonialism, and London mayor Sadiq Khan is reviewing the capital's statues and street names with a view to remove any with links to slavery. Hanna Ziady, CNN, "British companies apologize for ties to slavery," 18 June 2020 Bachelet urges countries confronting legacies of slavery or colonialism to pay financial reparations, while Callamard says the U.S. should listen to protesters’ demands. – Historic donation. Fortune, "Why Stacey Abrams sees reason for optimism in the Georgia primary voting mess," 18 June 2020 Statues relating to colonialism and white supremacy have been removed in other cities across the nation. oregonlive, "University of Portland takes down statue of Lewis & Clark slave York," 18 June 2020 Otherwise, Western museums will continue to condone the ongoing plunder of Africans of the past five hundred years, which aside from colonialism include the theft of African bodies for the gruesome Transatlantic Slave Trade. Sylvester Ogbechie, Quartz Africa, "How to bring Africa’s artifacts back home from Europe’s museums," 14 June 2020 Race has long been a fraught subject in Latin American countries, where the legacy of European colonialism remains and discrimination persists against Black and indigenous people. Raisa Bruner, Time, "Bad Bunny Speaks Out on Black Lives Matter Protests: 'Living in a World Like This, None of Us Can Breathe'," 12 June 2020 The Catholic church, the dominant force in education during much of Belgium’s existence, was at worst an active participant in colonialism, at best a passive bystander. Washington Post, "As protests grow, Belgium faces its racist colonial past," 11 June 2020 Over the weekend, the statue of a slave owner, Edward Colston, was toppled and thrown into a river by protesters in the English city of Bristol, sparking a debate about Britain's relationship with race and colonialism. NBC News, "Al Roker and Craig Melvin talk about black fatherhood and raising sons," 9 June 2020 Curfews were also used against indigenous and Black people throughout the 1700s to repress unrest against white settler colonialism. Erin Corbett,, "Police In The US Are Beating People To The Ground To Enforce The Racist Curfew," 6 June 2020

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

24 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Colonialism.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for colonialism


How to pronounce colonialism (audio)

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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