dys·​to·​pia | \(ˌ)dis-ˈtō-pē-ə \

Definition of dystopia 

1 : an imaginary place where people lead dehumanized and often fearful lives

2 literature : anti-utopia sense 2 writing a dystopia

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Other Words from dystopia

dystopian \ -​pē-​ən \ adjective

Examples of dystopia in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Whether authors make arguments that changes to history could have resulted in a modern utopia or dystopia, all seem eager to delve into the historical record in search of opportunities to break it. Lorraine Boissoneault, Smithsonian, "What if Napoleon Hadn’t Lost Europe and Other Questions of Alternate History," 14 June 2018 The fourth episode of this six-part series focuses on dystopias and dark futures in science fiction. Astro Teller, Popular Mechanics, "Google's Artificial Intelligence Chief on Why You Shouldn't Be Afraid of AI," 17 Oct. 2017 This utopia/dystopia tension has always been part of the city’s DNA, and in these early pages, Krist leans heavily on the negative side. Leo Braudy, New York Times, "Los Angeles as the City of Dreams, and Nightmares," 1 June 2018 Perhaps the most monumental of those lost women was Lexa from the CW's sci-fi dystopia show The 100. refinery29.com, "Courtney's 13 Reasons Why Ending Is A Huge Moment For Queer Women On TV," 22 May 2018 That’s a common tack for science fiction — particularly satires and dystopia stories, which poke fun at America’s less-desirable elements, and challenge people to do better. Tasha Robinson, The Verge, "10 subversive, dark American futures to stream on July 4th," 4 July 2018 The next game from the makers of The Witcher 3—the high water mark for modern role-playing games—is a first-person role-playing game set in a vibrant future dystopia. Joshua Rivera, GQ, "Every Video Game Worth Paying Attention to from E3 2018," 14 June 2018 Elite companies like Amazon and Google may be shamed out of contributing to our dystopia, but the result may simply be a glitchier Big Brother from a second-rate company willing to shoulder the mantel. Maya Kosoff, The Hive, "Amazon Workers to Jeff Bezos: Stop Weaponizing Our Tech," 22 June 2018 Does that sound like an unrecognizably radical dystopia to you? Scott Meslow, GQ, "Fahrenheit 451 Review: An Unsubtle Movie for Our Unsubtle Times," 18 May 2018

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.

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First Known Use of dystopia

circa 1950, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for dystopia

New Latin, from dys- + -topia (as in utopia)

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More Definitions for dystopia



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 \

Medical Definition of dystopia 

: malposition of an anatomical part

Other Words from dystopia

dystopic \ -​ˈtō-​pik , -​ˈtäp-​ik \ adjective

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).


playful or foolish behavior

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