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

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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Examples of dystopia in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Together, these ads reveal a pandemic dystopia with a particularly American twist. Amanda Mull, The Atlantic, "The Delicate Art of Disastertising," 23 Apr. 2020 Nature has turned our world into a sinister dystopia. Susan Gubar, New York Times, "What Cancer Has Taught Me About Fear," 15 Apr. 2020 And for a long while in this pandemic dystopia, no one dared budge. Sam Farmer, Los Angeles Times, "The first round of the NFL draft was a fun night ... from a distance," 23 Apr. 2020 Disney+'s family cooking competition Be Our Chef is either dystopia or balm, depending on your current anxiety levels. Robyn Bahr, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Be Our Chef': TV Review," 26 Mar. 2020 Neal Shusterman zooms in on the razor-thin line between utopia and dystopia. Katie Ward Beim-esche, The Christian Science Monitor, "Neal Shusterman blurs the line between ‘real’ and digital life," 15 Apr. 2020 Unfortunately, for years now most of our future-looking stories have been about darkness, dystopia, and degradation. Christian Holub, EW.com, "Quarantine Book Club: I'm using sci-fi to dream my way out of this," 8 Apr. 2020 Part kitchen-sink drama, part political allegory, part futuristic dystopia, the miniseries speculates about a 15-year period in British history, from 2019 to 2034. Sophie Gilbert, The Atlantic, "The Show That Illustrates the Numbness of Staying Alive," 29 Mar. 2020 Not allowed: Alien invasions, medical dramas, doomsday dystopia, and the like. Jean Bentley, refinery29.com, "27 Shows & Movies To Watch If Everything Is Giving You Anxiety Right Now," 20 Mar. 2020

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

dys- + -topia (in utopia)

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Time Traveler for dystopia

Time Traveler

The first known use of dystopia was circa 1950

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Statistics for dystopia

Last Updated

25 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Dystopia.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dystopia. Accessed 25 May. 2020.

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More Definitions for dystopia


How to pronounce dystopia (audio)

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 How to pronounce dystopia (audio) \

Medical Definition of dystopia

: malposition of an anatomical part

Other Words from dystopia

dystopic \ -​ˈtō-​pik How to pronounce dystopic (audio) , -​ˈtäp-​ik How to pronounce dystopic (audio) \ adjective

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More from Merriam-Webster on dystopia

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for dystopia

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with dystopia

Nglish: Translation of dystopia for Spanish Speakers

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