col·​o·​nist | \ ˈkä-lə-nist How to pronounce colonist (audio) \
plural colonists

Definition of colonist

: a member or inhabitant of a colony (see colony sense 1) the Jamestown/Plymouth colonists especially : a person who migrates to and settles in a foreign area as part of a colony Honeybees aren't native to North America; early colonists brought them over from Europe to provide honey and beeswax. — Paige Embry

Usage of Colonist and Colonizer

Colonist and colonizer both have meanings closely tied to the word colonialism in its use referring to domination of a foreign people or area. Colonist, which comes directly from the noun colony, is the more common—and usually more neutral—term. Colonizer, which comes from the verb colonize, is used especially in contexts in which the exploitative nature of colonialism is being discussed or evoked; in phrases like "colonizer mindset/mentality" it implies a benefit from or even active participation in that exploitation.

Examples of colonist in a Sentence

British colonists settled the area in the 18th century. over time the colonists began to sense that they were becoming a people unto themselves
Recent Examples on the Web For one, both have French roots: The Motor City was founded by French colonist Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac in 1701, and Hermès, well, Hermès's Gallic bona fides, which date to 1837, are well established. Ann Binlot, Town & Country, 16 June 2022 The current seal that appears on state flags, which dates to the late 19th century, features a depiction of a Native American man beneath a colonist’s arm brandishing a sword. From Usa Today Network And Wire Reports, USA TODAY, 19 May 2022 The family’s heritage is as diverse as the stories within the novel: Native American, European penal colonist, plantation owner, enslaved African. Samantha Laine Perfas, The Christian Science Monitor, 10 May 2022 Edwin, modelled on Mandel’s own colonist ancestor, has a hallucinatory experience in the woods—which links him to Olive, who is similarly transported more than two hundred years later. Katy Waldman, The New Yorker, 1 Apr. 2022 For centuries, Pocahantas has been romanticized and mythologized as a woman who defied her father to save the English colonist John Smith from execution. Harmeet Kaur, CNN, 8 Mar. 2022 The deity was surely carved by a Nahua artist immersed in his culture’s religion, while the cross may (or may not) have been carved by an Aztec but just as surely happened at the direction of a Spanish colonist. Los Angeles Times, 28 Dec. 2021 The colonist’s descendants went on to hold a number of prominent positions in New England, noted Nancy Riley for My New England Ancestors in 2016. Livia Gershon, Smithsonian Magazine, 30 Nov. 2021 Their investment paid off in the mid-1610s when an enterprising colonist named John Rolfe planted West Indian tobacco seeds in the region’s fertile soil. oregonlive, 25 Nov. 2021 See More

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

First Known Use of colonist

1701, in the meaning defined above

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The first known use of colonist was in 1701

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Last Updated

28 Jun 2022

Cite this Entry

“Colonist.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for colonist


col·​o·​nist | \ ˈkä-lə-nəst How to pronounce colonist (audio) \

Kids Definition of colonist

1 : a person living in a colony
2 : a person who helps to found a colony

More from Merriam-Webster on colonist

Nglish: Translation of colonist for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of colonist for Arabic Speakers


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