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

Essential Meaning of dystopia

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

Full 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 Surreal aquatic head gear, masks and breathing apparatus at the Botter show conjured up a underwater dystopia. Thomas Adamson, USA TODAY, 29 Sep. 2021 Surreal aquatic head gear, masks and breathing apparatus at the Botter show conjured up a underwater dystopia. Time, 29 Sep. 2021 Surreal aquatic head gear, masks and breathing apparatus at the Botter show conjured up a underwater dystopia. Thomas Adamson, ajc, 28 Sep. 2021 More recently, there’s Memory of Water by Emmi Itäranta, about a tea master in a water-scarce dystopia, and novellas like The Tea Master and the Detective by Aliette de Bodard. Jason Kehe, Wired, 16 Sep. 2021 In Dave Eggers’ The Every, a follow-up to his 2013 novel The Circle, the tech dystopia that characters navigate bears a strong resemblance to our current reality, dialed up a notch or two. Sarah Todd, Quartz, 26 Aug. 2021 Jenkins subtly flips the script, creating a world where the reality is the dystopia — no artifice or time-warp conceits necessary. Washington Post, 14 May 2021 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

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

Dictionary Entries Near dystopia




See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for dystopia

Last Updated

21 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Dystopia.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dystopia. Accessed 26 Oct. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for dystopia


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


Test Your Vocabulary

Difficult Spelling Words Quiz

  • alphabet pasta spelling help
  • Which is the correct spelling?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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