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 The program put the political dictates of Black nationalism into action through popular culture. Ashley Lee, Los Angeles Times, 13 Sep. 2023 Coined to evoke a sense of nationalism ahead of the 2024 polls, the INDIA alliance said its goal was upholding the country’s democratic institutions. Manveena Suri, CNN, 6 Sep. 2023 Content by this author: Snapshot The Last Minarets of Yunnan China’s Hui Muslims in the cross hairs of Xi’s new nationalism. Haiyun Ma and I-Wei Jennifer Chang, Foreign Affairs, 6 Sep. 2023 Trump’s universal tariff plan, however, would represent a dramatic intensification of economic nationalism that could draw more significant reproaches from foreign governments, experts said. Jeff Stein, Washington Post, 22 Aug. 2023 Nance’s celebratory images and the photographs in Onabanjo’s latest exhibition speak to the complexity of decolonizing nationalism—balancing an awareness of the cruel legacy of empire with the rapturous achievement of independence. Tausif Noor, The New Yorker, 2 Sep. 2023 Why Christian nationalism makes American Christians less Christlike. The Salt Lake Tribune, 22 Aug. 2023 But this view underestimated the salience of the nation-state and the endurance of nationalism. Michael Kimmage, Foreign Affairs, 22 Aug. 2023 The talk also focused on issues surrounding Artificial Intelligence, relations with China, the impact of Christian nationalism, reigning in the federal government, and the influence of ESG investment standards. Misty Severi, Washington Examiner, 19 Aug. 2023 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 29 Sep. 2023.

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

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