na·​tion·​al·​ism | \ ˈnash-nə-ˌli-zəm How to pronounce nationalism (audio) , ˈna-shə-nə-ˌli-zəm \

Definition of nationalism

1 : loyalty and devotion to a nation especially : a sense of national consciousness (see consciousness sense 1c) exalting one nation above all others and placing primary emphasis on promotion of its culture and interests as opposed to those of other nations or supranational groups Intense nationalism was one of the causes of the war.
2 : a nationalist movement or government opposing nationalisms

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Frequently Asked Questions About nationalism

What is the difference between nationalism and patriotism?

Nationalism and patriotism are similar insofar as both words emphasize strong feelings for one’s country. However, the two words are not synonymous. Nationalism, while it refers to loyalty and devotion to a nation, tends to imply the placing of that nation above others, a tendency that is not necessarily implicit in patriotism.

Is nationalism a proper noun?

Proper noun is defined as "a noun that designates a particular being or thing, does not take a limiting modifier, and is usually capitalized in English." Nationalism does not meet these criteria, and therefore is not a proper noun.

What is difference between nationalism and jingoism?

Nationalism and jingoism are closely related, as both words refer to an exaltation of one’s own nation and feelings of cultural superiority. However, jingoism, unlike nationalism, always implies military aggressiveness.

Examples of nationalism in a Sentence

The war was caused by nationalism and greed. Nazism's almost epic nationalism appealed to downtrodden Germans still suffering the humiliation of being defeated in World War I.
Recent Examples on the Web American audiences liked American dominance, in other words, but when women were seen simply as professional athletes, and not avatars of nationalism, more sexist attitudes reasserted themselves. Louisa Thomas, The New Yorker, "The Transformation of a Soccer Club, and the Ways We Value Women’s Sports," 30 Apr. 2021 Modi swept to a landslide reelection victory in 2019, offering Indians a muscular brand of nationalism that views India as a fundamentally Hindu country rather than the secular republic envisioned by its founders. Washington Post, "In India’s devastating coronavirus surge, anger at Modi grows," 29 Apr. 2021 The German economy became a seductive stand-in for explicit nationalism. Adrian Daub, The New Republic, "The Weird, Extremely German Origins of the Wirecard Scandal," 21 Apr. 2021 On the other hand, there is criticism that suggests the popularity of the camps stems from the rise of nationalism in Poland, particularly since the coming into power of Law and Justice (PiS), a right-wing populist party. Alan Taylor, The Atlantic, "Winners of the 2021 World Press Photo Contest," 15 Apr. 2021 Nkrumah’s trajectory reflects the role of the WASU as a crucible for west African nationalism in the 1940s, but also its waning influence in later years. Yosola Olorunshola, Quartz, "How the West African Students Union drove the anti-colonial agenda in 20th century London," 6 Mar. 2021 Ultimately, hijab bans or hijab mandates won’t bring us safety and equality—nor will the nationalism, laïcité, policing, and militarism that prompted them. Hoda Katebi, Vogue, "Journalist, Entrepreneur, and Activist Hoda Katebi on France’s Proposed Hijab Ban," 15 Apr. 2021 This newfound neo-nationalism that’s inhibiting foreign capital and their operations in the country will serve to reduce India’s economic growth and constrain its ability to improve the standard of living of its 1.3 billion people. Ike Brannon, Forbes, "India’s Hostility To Foreign Investment Threatens Long-Term Growth," 12 Apr. 2021 Change is happening from the bottom up, transcending the trappings of nationalism, polarization, and fear. Josh Feldman, Quartz, "7 ways to support the leadership potential of Gen Z," 2 Apr. 2021

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

1798, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for nationalism

Time Traveler

The first known use of nationalism was in 1798

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Statistics for nationalism

Last Updated

11 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Nationalism.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 13 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for nationalism



English Language Learners Definition of nationalism

: a feeling that people have of being loyal to and proud of their country often with the belief that it is better and more important than other countries
: a desire by a large group of people (such as people who share the same culture, history, language, etc.) to form a separate and independent nation of their own


na·​tion·​al·​ism | \ ˈna-shə-nə-ˌli-zəm How to pronounce nationalism (audio) \

Kids Definition of nationalism

: devotion to the interests of a certain country and belief that it is better and more important than other countries

Comments on nationalism

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