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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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 House Republicans stripped former Iowa Representative Steve King of his assignments in 2019 for openly defending white nationalism and white supremacy, a move that foreshadowed his electoral defeat in last year’s primary race. Matt Ford, The New Republic, "Everyone Wins If the Republicans Banish Marjorie Taylor Greene—Including Her," 3 Feb. 2021 The nation’s military has a history of downplaying white nationalism and right-wing activism, but the siege of the Capitol has created a new urgency for dealing with them. Gretchen Reynolds, New York Times, "Today’s Paper," 20 Jan. 2021 The question echoed in democracies beset in recent years by populist movements nurtured by the same blend of far-right nationalism and blue-collar grievances as Trump's following. Star Tribune, "Adversaries gloat, allies lament attack on U.S. Capitol," 11 Jan. 2021 In an interview, Bradford fiercely defended his actions and denied being part of a larger movement toward Christian nationalism. Star Tribune, "Election turmoil splits West Virginia city's evangelicals," 7 Feb. 2021 Both promoted unabashed nationalism, building passionate bases with their own versions of populism. Tom Benning, Dallas News, "‘Divorce is not an option’: U.S., Mexico reset relations in post-Trump era, even as AMLO pokes at Biden," 29 Jan. 2021 At least one of the pro-Trump, anti-coronavirus lockdown demonstrators at the Capitol on Dec. 21 has expressed support for white nationalism. oregonlive, "Leaders of Oregon progressive groups and labor unions call on Legislature to expel Rep. Mike Nearman," 25 Jan. 2021 Cancer analogies also have limits that oversimplify the blight of white nationalism. C. Brandon Ogbunu, Wired, "White Nationalism Is Far Worse Than a 'Disease'," 26 Jan. 2021 In Ukraine, American assistance was welcomed not just by aspiring democrats but by political forces that wanted to move Ukraine away from Russia for reasons of nationalism or of personal opportunism. Michael Kimmage, The New Republic, "How Biden Can Achieve a Russian Restoration," 26 Jan. 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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Time Traveler for nationalism

Time Traveler

The first known use of nationalism was in 1798

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Statistics for nationalism

Last Updated

28 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Nationalism.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Feb. 2021.

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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

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