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 The film smuggles into its acid-bright grooves jokes about fascism, women’s ability to juggle emotion and logic, and the banality of Zack Snyder’s Justice League cut, all while asking more meaningful questions about the nature of womanhood and existence itself. Angelica Jade Bastién, Vulture, 7 Feb. 2024 Anti-nationalists feel that a state like Israel, predicated on ethnicity or religious tradition, reeks of a determined rejection of modernity, even blood-and-soil fascism. Judith Shulevitz, The Atlantic, 30 Jan. 2024 But in the new America, descended from the ’50s, fascism would now be sold with a beat and a smile. Owen Gleiberman, Variety, 25 Jan. 2024 Recommended Monitor Breakfast Why Cornel West runs in 2024: Alternative to ‘fascism’ and ‘neoliberalism’ In one picture, three women stand stiffly in the middle of an orchard. Various Staff Writers, Special Correspondents, and Special Contributors, The Christian Science Monitor, 22 Dec. 2023 Trying to fight against fascism while contending with the people on your own side might be a little too real for some gamers in America today, but this game is tense, tricky and potentially friendship-ending—if, for instance, your buddy steals all your gold and sends it to the Soviet Union. James Palmer, Smithsonian Magazine, 18 Dec. 2023 Suggestions of a youthful dalliance with Romanian fascism surfaced occasionally, but Eliade was known at the university as a generous colleague and teacher. Richard Babcock, WSJ, 4 Dec. 2023 His first film role was as a schoolteacher sounding the alarm in The White Ribbon, Michael Haneke’s exploration of the seeds of fascism in pre-WWI Germany. Marlow Stern, Rolling Stone, 14 Jan. 2024 Recommended Monitor Breakfast Why Cornel West runs in 2024: Alternative to ‘fascism’ and ‘neoliberalism’ Over the summer, a group of young locals harassed an Italian TV crew covering migrant arrivals in Lampedusa. Alessandro Clemente, The Christian Science Monitor, 21 Dec. 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 21 Feb. 2024.

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
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