imperialism

noun
im·​pe·​ri·​al·​ism | \ im-ˈpir-ē-ə-ˌli-zəm How to pronounce imperialism (audio) \

Definition of imperialism

1 : imperial government, authority, or system
2 : the policy, practice, or advocacy of extending the power and dominion of a nation especially by direct territorial acquisitions or by gaining indirect control over the political or economic life of other areas broadly : the extension or imposition of power, authority, or influence union imperialism

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Other Words from imperialism

imperialist \ im-​ˈpir-​ē-​ə-​list How to pronounce imperialist (audio) \ noun or adjective
imperialistic \ im-​ˌpir-​ē-​ə-​ˈli-​stik How to pronounce imperialistic (audio) \ adjective
imperialistically \ im-​ˌpir-​ē-​ə-​ˈli-​sti-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce imperialistically (audio) \ adverb

Linguistic Roots of Imperialism

The original meaning of imperialism was a simple one: "imperial government," that is, empire in the classical sense (such as existed in ancient Rome, China, and Greece). In more recent times, imperialism has become synonymous with western hegemony in Africa and Asia from the 18th through the 20th centuries and with the spreading cultural influence of the United States. Formerly implying military and governmental dominance, the word today is often invoked in a wider variety of contexts, such as cultural imperialism, media imperialism, and economic imperialism. And while there has been considerable debate about net the effects of western dominance in other parts of the world, in its current use, imperialism often carries a negative connotation.

Examples of imperialism in a Sentence

British imperialism created the enormous British Empire.

Recent Examples on the Web

In their youth, these men and women saved the world from Nazism and Japanese imperialism. Karl Rove, WSJ, "George Bush’s Leadership by Example," 4 Dec. 2018 Her work explored issues like the island’s colonial past and the legacy of slavery and American imperialism. New York Times, "Overlooked No More: Julia de Burgos, a Poet Who Helped Shape Puerto Rico’s Identity," 28 May 2018 But after 40 years of cash and materiel shortages, the regime has learned how to wage imperialism on the cheap. Reuel Marc Gerecht, WSJ, "Tehran Counts on a Divided West," 12 Dec. 2018 So my name is a combination of Spanish colonialism and American imperialism. Eric Johnson, Recode, "Full Q&A: ‘Dear America’ author Jose Antonio Vargas on Recode Decode," 24 Nov. 2018 These young folks have valid reasoning for deciding not to play further into U.S. capitalism, imperialism, and white supremacy. Clarissa Brooks, Teen Vogue, "Nonvoters Have Valid Criticisms of the United States Government," 16 Nov. 2018 Germans are often too direct and sometimes too anti-American for me (discussions about American imperialism and German nationalism can sour fast). Adam H. Graham, Condé Nast Traveler, "The Perfect Long Weekend in Bavaria," 17 Sep. 2018 Despite Franklin’s efforts, this publishing imperialism tended to stunt the growth of indigenous publishing in many countries. Amanda Laugesen, Smithsonian, "This Cold War-Era Publishing House Wanted To Share American Values With the World," 13 July 2018 But opponents argue that the new test – which starts with AD 1450 – eliminates valuable opportunities to study non-Western cultures before European imperialism. Noble Ingram, The Christian Science Monitor, "AP test debate: How much world history should high-schoolers know?," 22 June 2018

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

1684, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for imperialism

imperial entry 1 + -ism

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Last Updated

12 Mar 2019

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Time Traveler for imperialism

The first known use of imperialism was in 1684

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More Definitions for imperialism

imperialism

noun

English Language Learners Definition of imperialism

: a policy or practice by which a country increases its power by gaining control over other areas of the world
: the effect that a powerful country or group of countries has in changing or influencing the way people live in other, poorer countries

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More from Merriam-Webster on imperialism

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with imperialism

Spanish Central: Translation of imperialism

Nglish: Translation of imperialism for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of imperialism for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about imperialism

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