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 The coming year will also see a resurgence of Scottish nationalism in response to Brexit, which the Scottish Nationalist Party has labelled an English nationalist project imposed on Scots against their will. The Economist, "The World in 2020 The coming surge of separatism," 30 Dec. 2019 Outspoken and populist in style, Milanovic has accused the ruling party of widespread corruption and of turning Croatia toward right-wing nationalism in the past several years. Washington Post, "Croatia holds tight presidential vote before EU chairmanship," 20 Dec. 2019 That group includes Slovakian President Zuzana Caputova, 46, a progressive whose election this year bucked the trend of populism and nationalism in Central Europe. Time, "At 34, Sanna Marin Is the World’s Youngest Sitting Head of Government," 10 Dec. 2019 Ursula van der Leyen, the incoming E.U. Commission President—the most powerful figure in the 28-country bloc, who is German—told the gathering that rising nationalism across the world was an urgent threat to Europe. Vivienne Walt, Fortune, "Germany Still Faces East-West Divides As Economic Troubles Loom," 12 Nov. 2019 And after securing reelection, Modi continued leaning his shoulder into Hindu nationalism, while neglecting issues like land reform or reducing trade barriers. Ian Bremmer, Time, "I Argued That Narendra Modi Was India's Best Hope for Economic Reform. Things Have Changed," 20 Dec. 2019 Critics of the new law say the anti-Muslim actions are an attempt to push Hindu nationalism onto a secular India. Aj Willingham, CNN, "5 things to know for December 18: Impeachment, India, Vatican, Iraq, Australia," 18 Dec. 2019 The United States is among a number of countries that have shifted inward toward economic nationalism while increasing support for fossil fuels. Tony Barbozastaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, "Trump briefly attends U.N. climate summit; Greta Thunberg rails against ‘empty words’," 23 Sep. 2019 Narendra Modi rose to power in India by stoking Hindu nationalism. oregonlive, "Indian military crackdown cuts off Kashmir’s connection with outside world; Portland-area Kashmiris fear the worst," 19 Sep. 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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Time Traveler for nationalism

Time Traveler

The first known use of nationalism was in 1798

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Statistics for nationalism

Last Updated

13 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Nationalism.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 21 January 2020.

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More Definitions for nationalism


How to pronounce nationalism (audio)

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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