col·​o·​niz·​er ˈkä-lə-ˌnī-zər How to pronounce colonizer (audio)
variants also British coloniser
plural colonizers
: one that colonizes : an individual or entity that establishes a colony or colonies: such as
: a nation or state that takes control of a people or area as an extension of state power
the country's relationship with its former colonizer
see usage paragraph below : a person who migrates to and settles in a foreign area as part of a colony
Almost all early explorers and colonizers marveled at the natural abundance they found in the Americas, a biodiversity at odds with the deforestation and extinctions that the Europeans had already wrought in most of their own continent.Alan Taylor
Lemur was the Roman name for the spirits of the dead. … The lemurs of Madagascar, an island of southeastern Africa, were named by French colonizers.International Wildlife
biology : an organism that establishes a population in a new area or habitat
… debate among scientists trying to determine how tube worms, clams and other colonizers of hydrothermal vents and cold seeps arrive and persist in their ephemeral habitats.Julie Zeidner Russo
Seaweeds tend to be the first colonizers on shorelines …Mark Carwardine
medical : a microorganism that multiplies in or on a host or an inanimate object or surface
Identification of the typical flora in the postoperative ethmoid sinus cavity, as well as a determination of the type of bacteria expected to be colonizers rather than pathogens, would also assist the physician in selecting an appropriate antibiotic.Neil Bhattacharyya and Harsha V. Gopal
Unnoticed biofilm colonizers are present in ventilator connectors and humidifiers, which may not be removed by routine methods.Bipassa Chakraborty et al.
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 colonizer in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Both Niger and Gabon have close ties to France, their former colonizer, as do Burkina Faso and Mali. Morgan Winsor, ABC News, 1 Oct. 2023 Some supporters of Palestine argue that Israeli cooks are colonizers who have adopted certain Arabic dishes as their own, and thus contribute to the erasure of Palestinian culture. Kim Severson, New York Times, 3 Nov. 2023 Advertisement The Kumeyaay lived here for 10,000 years before the land was taken from them by European colonizers. Kristen Taketa, San Diego Union-Tribune, 3 Nov. 2023 The Taiwan that would-be colonizers encountered was often described as an impassable wilderness, inhabited by Indigenous tribes who fished in the flatter lands to the south or hunted deer in the challenging terrain of the central mountains. Alexandra Kleeman, Travel + Leisure, 29 Oct. 2023 Niger and France have held close ties since Niger became independent from France in 1960, but Niger remains economically dependent on its former colonizer. Colette Davidson, The Christian Science Monitor, 15 Aug. 2023 These demonstrators praise the government’s decision to remove the French military and say that Bazoum and his predecessor, Mahamadou Issoufou, had been too close with the country’s former colonizers. Rachel Chason, Washington Post, 30 Oct. 2023 To be sure, the historical record would have been much more enriched if the trial had done more to foreground Asian countries instead of their colonizers and to expose Allied violence as well as Allied suffering. Foreign Affairs, 20 Oct. 2023 But France still lacks a significant body of work on colonialism written from the perspective of the colonized, versus the colonizer. Colette Davidson, The Christian Science Monitor, 16 Oct. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'colonizer.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1723, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of colonizer was in 1723

Dictionary Entries Near colonizer

Cite this Entry

“Colonizer.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 11 Dec. 2023.

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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