fas·​cism ˈfa-ˌshi-zəm How to pronounce fascism (audio)
 also  ˈfa-ˌsi-
often capitalized : a political philosophy, movement, or regime (such as that of the Fascisti) that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition
: a tendency toward or actual exercise of strong autocratic or dictatorial control
early instances of army fascism and brutalityJ. W. Aldridge
ˈfa-shist How to pronounce fascism (audio)
 also  -sist
noun or adjective often capitalized
fa-ˈshi-stik How to pronounce fascism (audio)
 also  -ˈsi-
adjective often capitalized
fa-ˈshi-sti-k(ə-)lē How to pronounce fascism (audio)
 also  -ˈsi-
adverb often capitalized

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The Italian Origin of Fascism

The words fascism and fascist have long been associated with the Fascisti of Benito Mussolini and the fasces, the bundle of rods with an ax among them, which the Fascisti used as a symbol of the Italian people united and obedient to the single authority of the state. However, Mussolini did not introduce the word fascista (plural fascisti) with the 1919 organization of the Fasci di combattimento (“combat groups”), nor did the fasces have any direct connection with the origin of fascista. In Italian, the word fascio (plural fasci) means literally “bundle,” and figuratively “group.” From at least 1872 fascio was used in the names of labor and agrarian unions, and in October 1914 a political coalition was formed called the Fascio rivoluzionario d’ azione internazionalista (“revolutionary group for international action”), which advocated Italian participation in World War I on the side of the Allies. Members of this group were first called fascisti in January 1915. Although Mussolini was closely associated with this interventionist movement, it had no direct link with the post-war Fasci di combattimento, and in 1919 the word fascista was already in political circulation. It is, however, to the Fascisti in their 1919 incarnation—who seized power in Italy three years later—that we owe the current customary meanings of our words fascism and fascist.

Examples of fascism in a Sentence

From the first hours of Hitler's invasion of the Soviet Union, the propagandists on both sides of the conflict portrayed the struggle in stark, Manichaean language. The totalitarian nature of both regimes made this inevitable. On one side stood Hitler, fascism, the myth of German supremacy; on the other side stood Stalin, communism, and the international proletarian revolution. Anne Applebaum, New York Review of Books, 25 Oct. 2007
Consider what happened during the crisis of global fascism. At first, even the truth about Hitler was inconvenient. Many in the west hoped the danger would simply go away. Al Gore, An Inconvenient Truth, 2006
He collected stories about groups similar to his—Aryans, other Nazis, the KKK. Lately, he'd been flagging many stories from Germany and Eastern Europe, and was quite thrilled with the rise of fascism there. John Grisham, The Chamber, 1995
the rise of Fascism in Europe before World War II
Recent Examples on the Web But under the logic of fascism, normal Earth logic is reversed. Michael Tomasky, The New Republic, 28 Aug. 2023 Oppenheimer saw communism as the best defense against the rise of fascism in Europe, which, being of Jewish heritage, was personal for him. Calder Walton, Fortune, 24 July 2023 With the specter of fascism all around us again, the bellowing confrontation in Bernstein’s work, a combination of wit and outrage, is nothing if not timely. Christopher Knight, Los Angeles Times, 18 July 2023 Names that evoke images of profligate lifestyles, miserable fates, or even fascism. John Pearley Huffman, Car and Driver, 7 July 2023 American writer Cliff Bradshaw sweeps in, meets performer Sally and tries to create a stable, happy life, even as the threat of fascism is on the rise. Caitlin Huston, The Hollywood Reporter, 11 July 2023 In the years during and after World War II, the battle against fascism spread to an unanticipated front line: the national conscience of the United States. Samuel G. Freedman, The Atlantic, 10 July 2023 Peaky Blinders, a show whose final season focused on the dangerous rise of fascism and the moral cowardice of those who don’t stand against it, did not authorize Ron DeSantis to use clips of the show in a recent political ad. Vulture, 5 July 2023 The encroaching shadow of fascism is felt in various characters’ deference to vehently anti-Communist, Hitler-excusing authorities, though nobody’s looking too far into the future while the gilded wheels of progress are turning in the present. Guy Lodge, Variety, 4 July 2023 See More

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

Word History


Italian fascismo, from fascio bundle, fasces, group, from Latin fascis bundle & fasces fasces

First Known Use

1921, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of fascism was in 1921

Dictionary Entries Near fascism

Cite this Entry

“Fascism.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fascism. Accessed 22 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


fas·​cism ˈfash-ˌiz-əm How to pronounce fascism (audio)
often capitalized
: a political system headed by a dictator in which the government controls business and labor and opposition is not permitted
fascist noun or adjective, often capitalized
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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