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

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web Some claimed this was proof that Great Britain had become a dystopia. Gabriel Hays, Fox News, 22 Dec. 2022 Trump Administration, then concluded with a political dystopia that exceeds even our own. Inkoo Kang, The New Yorker, 28 Nov. 2022 The novel’s second half unfortunately winds up feeling a little like two completely different stories squished together because of this—the mystery doesn’t sit comfortably within a spaceships-and-plagues dystopia. Liz Braswell, WSJ, 25 Nov. 2022 The answer seems to veer toward society being a functioning possibility instead of anarchic dystopia. David Marchese David Marchesephotograph By Mamadi Doumbouya, New York Times, 23 Nov. 2022 The tabletop fantasy game, which centers around a narrative set in a futuristic dystopia ravaged by war, is the most popular miniature wargame in the world. Bychloe Taylor, Fortune, 16 Dec. 2022 However, our current dystopia may have reached a point where a story about space fascists is more relatable. Los Angeles Times, 30 Nov. 2022 The overall effect is of a retro dystopia: Spotify in the world of Blade Runner. WIRED, 24 Nov. 2022 Thousands have taken to the streets seeking a change in what has become a nightmarish theocratic dystopia, rivaled only by the Taliban’s Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. Bobby Miller, National Review, 7 Oct. 2022 See More

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.

Word History


dys- + -topia (in utopia)

First Known Use

circa 1950, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of dystopia was circa 1950

Dictionary Entries Near dystopia

Cite this Entry

“Dystopia.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dystopia. Accessed 27 Jan. 2023.

Kids Definition


: an imaginary place where people are unhappy and usually afraid because they are not treated fairly
also : a work of literature about such a place

Medical Definition


dys·​to·​pia dis-ˈtō-pē-ə How to pronounce dystopia (audio)
: malposition of an anatomical part
dystopic adjective

More from Merriam-Webster on dystopia

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