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

These were stories in which good Americans lost their individuality and freedom and became incorporated into an evangelical hive mind, reflecting anti-communist fears of Soviet imperialism and collectivism. Noah Berlatsky, The Verge, "In season 3, Stranger Things’ celebration of ’80s pop culture becomes a political ideology," 8 July 2019 Russia’s spiritual imperialism has also diminished the Russian Orthodox Church. Michael Khodarkovsky, WSJ, "Russia Wages a Religious War Against Ukraine," 30 Sep. 2018 Cultural imperialism: Establishing the rules and customs of the ruling class as the norm. The Washington Post, The Mercury News, "Dodgeball is a tool of ‘oppression’ used to ‘dehumanize’ others, researchers argue," 7 June 2019 But scholars have also seen the Opium War as showing how global processes—for example, the emergence of capitalism and the spread of imperialism—abruptly changed China’s historical trajectory. Kenneth Pomeranz, The New York Review of Books, "Blundering into War," 6 June 2019 Cultural imperialism: Establishing the rules and customs of the ruling class as the norm. The Washington Post, The Denver Post, "Dodgeball is a tool of “oppression” used to “dehumanize” others, researchers argue," 8 June 2019 This stance makes him exceptional among Latin American intellectuals, many of whom are still bewitched by anti-imperialism and socialism. The Economist, "Mario Vargas Llosa explains why his politics changed," 26 Apr. 2018 McCain was born in 1936, at a Navy base in the Panama Canal Zone, a literal child of U.S. imperialism whose father and grandfather were both Navy admirals during their lifetimes. Prince Shakur, Teen Vogue, "The Legacy Left Behind by John McCain Is Imperfect Yet Impactful," 27 Aug. 2018 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

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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Statistics for imperialism

Last Updated

16 Jul 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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Comments on imperialism

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