dys·​to·​pia | \ (ˌ)dis-ˈtō-pē-ə How to pronounce dystopia (audio) \

Definition of dystopia

1 : an imagined world or society in which people lead wretched, dehumanized, fearful lives There's almost a flavor of science fiction to the scenes Chilson describes, as though he were giving us a glimpse into a 21st-century dystopia of mad egoism and hurtling hulks of metal.— Adam Goodheart Over the course of the movie, the late-60's ideal of togetherness turns into a dystopia of violence, revulsion and finally death.— John Leland
2 : anti-utopia sense 2 writing a dystopia … leaping across the century to the 1990's to attempt a dystopia about the disintegration of Australian democracy into startling, irreversible despotism.— Pearl K. Bell

Keep scrolling for more

Examples of dystopia in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web First published in 1980, The Incal is a legendary sci-fi comic about the adventures of a down-on-his-luck detective named John DiFool making his way through a degenerate dystopia. Christian Holub, EW.com, "The best new comics to read in September: Stories of swords and magic," 4 Sep. 2020 For many, the coronavirus pandemic has ushered in a genuine dystopia. Carrie Battan, The New Yorker, "Megan Thee Stallion, Lil Uzi Vert, and the Emptiness of the Live Virtual Concert," 2 Sep. 2020 Are Americans living in a dystopia or in an America made great again by Trump? Calvin Woodward, Star Tribune, "AP FACT CHECK: Is Trump's America great again or hellscape?," 30 Aug. 2020 Are Americans living in a dystopia or in an America made great again by Trump? Calvin Woodward, chicagotribune.com, "Is America great again, or bordering on dystopia? Republicans say both.," 29 Aug. 2020 Are Americans living in a dystopia or in an America made great again by Trump? Calvin Woodward, Star Tribune, "AP FACT CHECK: Is US great again or dystopian? GOP says both," 29 Aug. 2020 In fact, he and the rest of the right have been particularly fixated on San Francisco, which the conservative press regularly depicts as a lawless progressive dystopia. Osita Nwanevu, The New Republic, "This Is How Trump Will Try to Take Down Kamala Harris," 5 Aug. 2020 But the Frames offer a fascinating view of the state of the art in virtual assistants — and perhaps also the state of our dystopia. Washington Post, "I’ve worn Alexa-enabled glasses for two weeks. They’re driving me bananas.," 4 Aug. 2020 This is not Baz Luhrmann’s 1996 adaptation Romeo + Juliet—with its psychedelic dystopia and doomed romanticism—but an agrarian pastoral of blues and oranges and blacks. Tiana Reid, The New York Review of Books, "Searching for Freedom in ‘Cane River’ and the Black Outdoors," 20 June 2020

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

See More

First Known Use of dystopia

circa 1950, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for dystopia

dys- + -topia (in utopia)

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about dystopia

Time Traveler for dystopia

Time Traveler

The first known use of dystopia was circa 1950

See more words from the same year

Statistics for dystopia

Last Updated

14 Sep 2020

Cite this Entry

“Dystopia.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dystopia. Accessed 21 Sep. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for dystopia


How to pronounce dystopia (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of dystopia

: an imaginary place where people are unhappy and usually afraid because they are not treated fairly


dys·​to·​pia | \ dis-ˈtō-pē-ə How to pronounce dystopia (audio) \

Medical Definition of dystopia

: malposition of an anatomical part

Other Words from dystopia

dystopic \ -​ˈtō-​pik How to pronounce dystopic (audio) , -​ˈtäp-​ik How to pronounce dystopic (audio) \ adjective

More from Merriam-Webster on dystopia

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for dystopia

Nglish: Translation of dystopia for Spanish Speakers

Comments on dystopia

What made you want to look up dystopia? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


Test Your Vocabulary

Homophone Quiz

  • three bears two of them look like theyre whispering to a third bear who looks chuffed to be the center of attention
  • In order to judge how people felt, the senator's office hired a firm to take a ______.
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!