na·​tion·​al·​ism ˈna-sh(ə-)nə-ˌli-zəm How to pronounce nationalism (audio)
: 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.
: a nationalist movement or government
opposing nationalisms

Frequently Asked Questions

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 Since then, countless essays, articles, and books have tried to explain the growing threats to the liberal world order posed by populism, authoritarianism, fundamentalism, and nationalism. Helena Rosenblatt, Foreign Affairs, 20 Feb. 2024 That historic tension between go-it-alone nationalism and broad-coalition internationalism has played out in stark form in the last week. Peter Baker, New York Times, 15 Feb. 2024 Sites dedicated to white nationalism, QAnon conspiracy theories, and harassing transgender people were all welcomed by Epik. William Turton, WIRED, 8 Feb. 2024 Their perspective is only sought on issues related to race, like Christian nationalism. John Blake, CNN, 3 Feb. 2024 In the years after the mosque’s violent demolition, Hindu nationalism became a dominating force in Indian politics, and Ayodhya—a nondescript, impoverished town for much of its modern existence—emerged as the crucible for a contested country. Vaibhav Vats, The Atlantic, 3 Feb. 2024 Biden’s trade and industrial policies — which some analysts describe as a form of economic nationalism — are designed to promote domestic production and to attract foreign cash to the United States. David J. Lynch, Washington Post, 30 Jan. 2024 If not Spanish, what defines Latinidad? Oct. 4, 2023 Caruso and those who agree with him offer a neat, tidy appeal to nationalism. Jp Brammer, Los Angeles Times, 7 Feb. 2024 Experts said that while an ascendant Sinn Fein could provide further momentum to that cause, the party’s rise was more a reflection of the fractures that appeared among unionist parties after Britain left the European Union, rather than a widespread surge in Irish nationalism. Megan Specia, New York Times, 3 Feb. 2024 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'nationalism.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1798, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of nationalism was in 1798

Dictionary Entries Near nationalism

Cite this Entry

“Nationalism.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Mar. 2024.

Kids Definition


na·​tion·​al·​ism ˈnash-nəl-ˌiz-əm How to pronounce nationalism (audio)
: loyalty and devotion to a nation especially as expressed in a glorifying of one nation above all others and a stressing of the promotion of its culture and interests

More from Merriam-Webster on nationalism

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!