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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The Difference Between Nationalism, Patriotism, Sectionalism, and Jingoism

Nationalism has a number of near-synonyms, each of which carries its own distinct meaning. Patriotism is similar insofar as it emphasizes strong feelings for one’s country, but it does not necessarily imply an attitude of superiority. Sectionalism resembles nationalism in its suggestion of a geopolitical group pursuing its self-interest, but the group in question is usually smaller than an entire nation. Jingoism closely resembles nationalism in suggesting feelings of cultural superiority, but unlike nationalism, it 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

Sushma Swaraj, a longtime campaigner for Hindu nationalism who was the face of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s foreign policy as India’s external affairs minister for five years, died Tuesday in a hospital in New Delhi. Ellen Barry,, "Sushma Swaraj, 67, popular Indian minister and Modi ally," 10 Aug. 2019 This is despite the aggressive nationalism prevalent in India today as evidenced by the many landmarks dedicated to the war’s heroes and Bollywood’s many eulogies to them. Manavi Kapur, Quartz India, "The average young Indian’s view on the Kargil War is shaped by Bollywood and nationalism," 25 July 2019 Earlier in the year, Kaeser sharply criticized a German lawmaker, saying that their nationalism would harm the country's prosperity. Charles Riley, CNN, "One of Germany's top CEOs has called out racism in the White House," 22 July 2019 The counter-protesters say their goal is to outnumber the other protest, and stop the alt-right and white nationalism from spreading. CBS News, "Heavy police presence in Washington for "Demand Free Speech" rally," 6 July 2019 Poroshenko put his stake on Ukrainian nationalism, but real nationalists are only about 10 percent of the population. Fred Weir, The Christian Science Monitor, "Why frustrated Ukrainians may elect a comedian as president," 19 Apr. 2019 From its earliest beginnings, as a form of glorified looting carried out by armies and aristocrats to shore up imperialist claims of civilizational progress, archaeology has been a handmaiden of nationalism. Rachel Poser, Harper's magazine, "Common Ground," 19 Aug. 2019 Perhaps because of his unconventional brand of nationalism, Lopez Obrador has more political capital than any of the three other Mexican presidents since the country's transition to effective democracy in 2000. Rafael Romo, CNN, "Mexico's president is just beginning his 'Fourth Transformation' of the country," 16 Aug. 2019 Trump’s breathtaking weaponization of the Republican Party into the party of white nationalism should, at minimum, make the parameters of the Democratic primary campaign clear. Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw, The New Republic, "The Destructive Politics of White Amnesia," 6 Aug. 2019

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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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

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Comments on nationalism

What made you want to look up nationalism? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


concealment of treason or felony

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