iso·​la·​tion·​ism | \ ˌī-sə-ˈlā-shə-ˌni-zəm How to pronounce isolationism (audio) also ˌi- \

Definition of isolationism

: a policy of national isolation by abstention from alliances and other international political and economic relations

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Other Words from isolationism

isolationist \ ˌī-​sə-​ˈlā-​sh(ə-​)nist How to pronounce isolationist (audio) also  ˌi-​ \ noun or adjective

Examples of isolationism in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Your letter illustrates the disadvantages of isolationism. Abigail Van Buren, oregonlive, "Dear Abby: Next door neighbor’s outside smoking seeps into their lives," 17 Oct. 2020 The career of Henry Clay, Abraham Lincoln’s hero, also demonstrates how this project of national union need not be one of radical isolationism. Fred Bauer, National Review, "How to Revive Family, Community, and Other Resources of Liberty," 12 Oct. 2020 Steer clear of isolationism; embrace a more balanced immigration plan; stop talking about getting rid of NATO; do not advocate a new arms race. Susan B. Glasser, The New Yorker, "The Private Trump Angst of a Republican Icon," 27 Sep. 2020 Lodge’s life was defined by his movement from his grandfather’s isolationism to his own brand of internationalism — a big idea, a big issue. Keith C. Burris Pittsburgh Post-gazette, Star Tribune, "Election 2020: Issues, anyone?," 25 Sep. 2020 But while there are many systems within the UN that could have (and have, although imperfectly and insufficiently) helped coordination, Covid-19 hit the world just as nationalism and isolationism is peaking. Annalisa Merelli, Quartz, "The UN can’t solve the crisis it was designed to handle," 21 Sep. 2020 The Taft wing also wanted to sharply scale back America’s foreign commitments and return to prewar isolationism. Bruce Bartlett, The New Republic, "When the Republican Party Was Sane," 24 Aug. 2020 It's been replaced with messages of fear, ethnic resentment and isolationism. CNN, "Opinion: The Republican Party has a tough choice to make," 21 Aug. 2020 Sanders’ back-and-forth with his colleagues revealed a rift between his economic isolationism and the rest of the field’s half-a-loaf approach. Nicholas Riccardi, The Denver Post, "Key takeaways from Democratic presidential debate in Iowa," 15 Jan. 2020

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

1919, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler for isolationism

Time Traveler

The first known use of isolationism was in 1919

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Statistics for isolationism

Last Updated

23 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Isolationism.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 31 Oct. 2020.

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More Definitions for isolationism


How to pronounce isolationism (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of isolationism

: the belief that a country should not be involved with other countries : a policy of not making agreements or working with other countries

More from Merriam-Webster on isolationism

Nglish: Translation of isolationism for Spanish Speakers

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