dys·​to·​pi·​an (ˌ)dis-ˈtō-pē-ən How to pronounce dystopian (audio)
variants or less commonly dystopic
: of, relating to, or being an imagined world or society in which people lead dehumanized, fearful lives : relating to or characteristic of a dystopia
A twisted romantic haunted by dystopian visions, Gibson borrows the language of science fiction and crafts doomed love stories with high-tech trappings.Maitland McDonagh
Dystopian visions are in a sense mythopoeic: depicting a creation myth in a future world of darkness and silence.Sarah Lefanu
Biotechnology is a force for good, but without adherence to the ideal of universal human equality, it opens the door to the soft tyranny of Gattaca and, ultimately the dystopian nightmare of Brave New World.Wesley J. Smith
Like many advances in science and technology, the dystopian implications of data mining have been described best by science-fiction writers.John Markoff
… Orwellian has become a word itself: an adjective denoting a dystopic world where language is cut adrift from meaning.Harvey A. Daniels
Letter by letter, we read of a society that seems to move from one dystopic nightmare to another …Simon Winchester

Examples of dystopian in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web To avoid being perpetual villains of dystopian stories, data companies need to actively take part in giving this assurance through collective efforts such as the Ethical Web Data Collection Initiative. Julius Černiauskas, Forbes, 22 Feb. 2024 Some have hailed it as the beginning of a new era of wearable technology, while others have described as something from a dystopian nightmare. Patrick Smith, NBC News, 20 Feb. 2024 There’s no evidence that inverters are plunging civilization into a dystopian dark age. IEEE Spectrum, 14 Feb. 2024 There may be a touch of Cloud Atlas-style dystopian condescension in the notion of bringing AI to the benighted continent of Europe. Peter Vanham, Fortune Europe, 13 Feb. 2024 In the United States, Canada and New Zealand, politicians have used A.I. to create dystopian images to drive home their arguments, or to reveal the technology’s potentially dangerous capabilities, as in a video with Jordan Peele and a deepfake Barack Obama. Yan Zhuang, New York Times, 11 Feb. 2024 The city is grimy and dystopian, and Lopez looks slightly unsettled as trash and debris flits across cracked pavement. Vulture, 31 Jan. 2024 Apple’s initial round of Vision Pro apps, like those from its competitors, aren’t entirely compelling, either, and can even have a lonely, dystopian flavor. Jaron Lanier, The New Yorker, 2 Feb. 2024 Set in a dystopian 2018, the film helps make sense of today’s political and cultural struggles, which are taking places as corporations and the wealthy consolidate their control over the information systems, newspapers and media outlets that once served democracy. Matthew Jordan, The Conversation, 1 Feb. 2024 See More

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

Word History


dystopian from dystopia + -an entry 2; dystopic from dystopia + -ic entry 1

First Known Use

1962, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of dystopian was in 1962

Dictionary Entries Near dystopian




Cite this Entry

“Dystopian.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dystopian. Accessed 1 Mar. 2024.

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