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

Examples of dystopia in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The outside world is dystopia that's slowly killing all humans, but the perfect life of Plymouth Valley is just a facade that hides a community that's rotten at its core. Gabino Iglesias, NPR, 16 Apr. 2024 This week, reports said Coppola was struggling to find a splashy distribution deal for his 135-minute epic, about a dystopia in the throes of an energy revolution. Matt Donnelly, Variety, 10 Apr. 2024 So advanced were their dystopias’ technology that even viewers at home couldn’t tell human and AI apart. Manuel Betancourt, Los Angeles Times, 31 Mar. 2024 Libya soon degenerated into a violent dystopia and sanctuary for international terrorists and human traffickers. Armstrong Williams, Baltimore Sun, 2 Feb. 2024 Yet another origin story, the film revitalizes the YA dystopia by showing the backstory of Coriolanus Snow, who will one day preside over Katniss Everdeen’s time in the arena. Shania Russell, EW.com, 17 Dec. 2023 The film imagines a near-future dystopia where the United States has been torn apart under the authoritarian rule of a three-term president (Nick Offerman). James Hibberd, The Hollywood Reporter, 15 Mar. 2024 But when millions of users and mods turned out to prefer dystopia, Huffman ended up committing to maintaining the old interface alongside the new one—stretching thin his engineers. Paresh Dave, WIRED, 14 Mar. 2024 And, as a result, Keys’s performance became a lightning rod for casual music critics and prophets of technological dystopia alike. Marc Hogan, The Atlantic, 1 Mar. 2024

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

Word History


dys- + -topia (in utopia)

First Known Use

1919, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of dystopia was in 1919

Dictionary Entries Near dystopia




Cite this Entry

“Dystopia.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dystopia. Accessed 18 May. 2024.

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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