fas·​cism | \ˈfa-ˌshi-zəm also ˈfa-ˌsi- \

Definition of fascism 

1 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

2 : a tendency toward or actual exercise of strong autocratic or dictatorial control early instances of army fascism and brutality— J. W. Aldridge

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Other Words from fascism

fascist \ˈfa-​shist also -​sist \ noun or adjective often capitalized
fascistic \fa-​ˈshi-​stik also -​ˈsi-​ \ adjective often capitalized
fascistically \fa-​ˈshi-​sti-​k(ə-​)lē also -​ˈsi-​ \ adverb often capitalized

The Italian Origin of Fascism

The English words fascism and fascist are borrowings from Italian fascismo and fascista, derivatives of fascio (plural fasci), “bundle, fasces, group.” Fascista was first used in 1914 to refer to members of a fascio, or political group. In 1919, fascista was applied to the black-shirted members of Benito Mussolini’s organization, the Fasci di combattimento (“combat groups”), who seized power in Italy in 1922. Playing on the word fascista, Mussolini’s party adopted the fasces, a bundle of rods with an ax among them, as a symbol of the Italian people united and obedient to the single authority of the state. The English word fascist was first used for members of Mussolini’s fascisti, but it has since been generalized to those of similar beliefs.

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
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Recent Examples on the Web

Authors including former secretary of state Madeleine Albright and Yale historian Timothy Snyder have warned of a recurrence of fascism. Zachary Karabell, WSJ, "The Trouble With Hitler Analogies," 30 Nov. 2018 Studio was the defining moment for the social fascism of that era. Julia Felsenthal, Vogue, "Matt Tyrnauer’s New Documentary, Studio 54, Takes On the Rise, Fall, and Last Days of Disco," 4 Oct. 2018 Propaganda feels so old school, but apparently fascism remains IN this season. Cady Drell, Marie Claire, "The U.N. General Assembly Just Laughed in Trump's Face," 25 Sep. 2018 In the long run, the politicization of these two terms will hurt support for the idea of democracy, and bolster support for the idea of fascism. Amy Erica Smith, Vox, "Brazilian media report that police are entering university classrooms to interrogate professors," 1 Nov. 2018 As horrifying as the clashes were between antifa and neo-Nazis in Charlottesville, only the deranged would argue that the U.S. was descending into fascism. Josef Joffe, WSJ, "Is Germany Slouching Toward Weimar Again?," 23 Sep. 2018 Alex Film Society Charlie Chaplin was well ahead of the U.S. government's official condemnation of Adolf Hitler with his 1940 anti-fascism satire, The Great Dictator. Kathleen Craughwell, latimes.com, "The Moviegoer, April 15-22," 13 Apr. 2018 When the Spanish Civil War began, in 1936, fascism was on the march across Europe, as a new breed of strongman leader emerged from the horrors and economic ravages of the First World War and the Great Depression. Matías Costa, Smithsonian, "The Battle Over the Memory of the Spanish Civil War," 28 June 2018 But after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Freedoms were transformed into a rationale for the battle against fascism. J.s. Marcus, WSJ, "In New York, Rockwell’s Vision of FDR’s ‘Freedoms’," 12 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'fascism.' 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 fascism

1921, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for fascism

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

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More Definitions for fascism



English Language Learners Definition of fascism

: a way of organizing a society in which a government ruled by a dictator controls the lives of the people and in which people are not allowed to disagree with the government

: very harsh control or authority


noun, often capitalized
fas·​cism | \ˈfa-ˌshi-zəm \

Kids Definition of fascism

: a political system headed by a dictator in which the government controls business and labor and opposition is not permitted

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More from Merriam-Webster on fascism

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with fascism

Spanish Central: Translation of fascism

Nglish: Translation of fascism for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of fascism for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about fascism

Comments on fascism

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to make faulty or ineffective

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