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

Essential Meaning of nationalism

1 : 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 The war was caused by nationalism and greed.
2 : 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 Scottish nationalism

Full 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

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 The teen became a hero in Republican corners and a symbol to the left of the rise of white nationalism and armed militia groups. Christal Hayes, USA TODAY, 19 Nov. 2021 McAdam, an expert on extremism and white nationalism at the Montana Human Rights Network, has been monitoring threats of violence targeted toward public health officers in Montana, and sometimes northern Idaho. Jacqueline Howard, CNN, 28 Oct. 2021 But the Liberty Garden also bears witness to 20 years of consequences and unfinished business, wars on terror, the Patriot Act, the 2008 financial crash, the explosion of violent white nationalism, the coronavirus pandemic. Anne Saker, The Enquirer, 8 Sep. 2021 He wasn't charged with a hate crime, but an FBI agent testified that Gleason searched the internet around the time of the crimes for topics including Nazi propaganda and white nationalism. CBS News, 25 Aug. 2021 In addition, civil liberties have been curtailed, innocent Muslims have been entrapped and targeted, and the constant drumbeat about defeating Islamists abroad has fueled rampant Islamophobia and white nationalism at home. Jordan Michael Smith, The New Republic, 23 Aug. 2021 Perhaps the biggest threat posed by QAnon is articulated by Lindsay Schubiner, a program director at the Western States Center in Portland, Oregon, which works to support democracy and challenge white nationalism. Sophie Bjork-james, Chron, 26 Apr. 2021 Republican politics, including the noisy version that appears on Fox News, looks like a series of attempts to normalize white nationalism. Los Angeles Times, 21 Apr. 2021 There can be no doubt about the racial element of this assault, but the perpetrators belonged to one of the demographic groups in America least likely to be influenced by Trump or to favor white nationalism. Rich Lowry, National Review, 23 Mar. 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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The first known use of nationalism was in 1798

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Last Updated

23 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Nationalism.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Jan. 2022.

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More Definitions for nationalism


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

More from Merriam-Webster on nationalism

Nglish: Translation of nationalism for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of nationalism for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about nationalism


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