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

Examples of dystopia in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web But the fact of any performance is buoying; that artists, fans and venues have faith in an end to the dystopia that isolated them for so long. Nathan Rizzo | For The Oregonian/oregonlive, oregonlive, 29 July 2021 Why blow half your budget on re-creating a terrestrial dystopia, rife with special effects, when a few words can sketch out the eco-disaster and set our imaginations racing? Anthony Lan, The New Yorker, 16 July 2021 Scenes play out against a nightmarish score by the dystopia specialist Cristobal Tapia de Veer (Black Mirror, Humans, The Third Day), which incorporates shrieking instruments over a relentless drumbeat. Sophie Gilbert, The Atlantic, 16 July 2021 Online, though, commenters said the scene reminded them of a dystopia. Miho Inada, WSJ, 13 July 2021 The medieval society falls after a family betrayal, leading to the rise of a technologically advanced dystopia, where a super soldier is created with the sole purpose of defeating Morty, who is now viewed as some kind of demonic demigod. Dani Di Placido, Forbes, 21 June 2021 Everyone has on face masks, heightening the sense of 21st-century dystopia. Seth Harp, Rolling Stone, 14 June 2021 Following the actual carnage of World War I, the writers of the 1920s and ’30s gazed into the future and saw mainly darkness and dystopia. Washington Post, 12 May 2021 The new film, based on Ray Bradbury’s 1953 novel, presents a dystopia — updated for the digital age — in which the government destroys all paper and e-books, those vessels of wisdom and human self-examination. Matthew Gilbert, BostonGlobe.com, 16 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

dys- + -topia (in utopia)

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The first known use of dystopia was circa 1950

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Last Updated

15 Sep 2021

Cite this Entry

“Dystopia.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dystopia. Accessed 23 Sep. 2021.

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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 How to pronounce dystopia (audio) \

Medical Definition of dystopia

: malposition of an anatomical part

Other Words from dystopia

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

More from Merriam-Webster on dystopia

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for dystopia

Nglish: Translation of dystopia for Spanish Speakers


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