dys·​to·​pia | \ (ˌ)dis-ˈtō-pē-ə \

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

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Other Words from dystopia

dystopian \ (ˌ)dis-​ˈtō-​pē-​ən \ adjective

Examples of dystopia in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

One of the most exciting fiction debuts of the year is Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah’s Friday Black, a darkly satirical short story collection that plays on our ideas about race, capitalism, and dystopia. Constance Grady, Vox, "The author of Friday Black explains why he reimagined Black Friday as a zombie plague," 23 Nov. 2018 Not only are these texts comprised of very specific worldviews; their very successful authors are now very comfortable, even in our current dystopia. Bridget Read, Vogue, "Do We Really Need a Handmaid’s Tale Sequel?," 29 Nov. 2018 What The Walking Dead has done with the zombie genre, Colony was trying with dystopia, exploring the political microcosms and moral transmutations that evolve and persist in the face of seemingly never-ending apocalypse. Devon Maloney, The Verge, "Farewell to USA’s Colony, a rare dystopia that tried something new," 5 Aug. 2018 This metafictional framing, a pioneering device when it was first published, pushes The Handmaid’s Tale beyond the bounds of dystopia. Bridget Read, Vogue, "Do We Really Need a Handmaid’s Tale Sequel?," 29 Nov. 2018 On top of that, some of the people that write these dystopias — not all of them — don’t really understand tech. Eric Johnson, Recode, "Google’s former PR boss Jessica Powell wrote a satirical novel about tech and published it all on Medium," 2 Oct. 2018 Bad things happen to good dogs in this movie, and Trash Island resembles a post-nuclear dystopia in which civilized behavior vies with a basic struggle to survive. Ty Burr, BostonGlobe.com, "Canines (and kids) to the rescue in ‘Isle of Dogs’," 26 Mar. 2018 Part fashion show, part theater production, Kirkwood's spring 2019 presentation was meant to touch on themes of resistance, dystopia, hacking, and cyber-reality, The Guardian reports. Ana Colón, Glamour, "Rose McGowan Opened Nicholas Kirkwood's Activism-Inspired Runway Show During London Fashion Week," 17 Sep. 2018 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

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

More from Merriam-Webster on dystopia

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with dystopia

Nglish: Translation of dystopia for Spanish Speakers

Comments on dystopia

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tremendous in size, volume, or degree

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