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

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 In 2019, apparently having rejected classical liberalism, Ahmari lauded nationalism, properly understood, as a viable alternative. Nate Hochman, National Review, 17 May 2022 Unlike in some cities in this part of the country, pro-Ukrainian nationalism has been embedded in the ethos of Zaporizhzhia. Vivian Salama, WSJ, 12 May 2022 But 15 years on, dealing in a combustible mixture of historical nostalgia and nationalism that had swept the world from New Delhi to Washington, Erdoğan had turned nakedly authoritarian. New York Times, 12 May 2022 The battle of economic nationalism between the U.S. and China took another step forward Thursday. Jacob Carpenter, Fortune, 6 May 2022 While more people are now voting for the third-way Alliance Party, which argues that other bread-and-butter issues matter more than unionism or nationalism, for now, Northern Ireland’s political and constitutional reality remains unchanged. Tom Mctague, The Atlantic, 6 May 2022 War, nationalism and authoritarianism threaten the civilized order on which globalization relies. Ginny Whitelaw, Forbes, 1 May 2022 Behind a fortress wall and razor wire and a few feet away from California’s death row, students at one of the country’s most unique colleges discuss the 9/11 attacks and issues of morality, identity, and nationalism. Olga R. Rodriguez, The Christian Science Monitor, 20 Apr. 2022 Studies of European nationalism find blame for outsiders a consistent pattern. Joan C. Williams, The New Republic, 19 Apr. 2022 See More

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.

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 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Nationalism.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 May. 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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