na·​tion·​al·​i·​ty | \ ˌna-shə-ˈna-lə-tē How to pronounce nationality (audio) , ˌnash-ˈna- \
plural nationalities

Definition of nationality

1 : national character the nationality of Ireland is in her songs and in her stories, and in her chronicles and in her tradition— W. B. Yeats
3a : national status specifically : a legal relationship involving allegiance on the part of an individual and usually protection on the part of the state nationality bestowed by birth
b : membership in a particular nation Vietnamese nationality
4 : political independence or existence as a separate nation
5a : a people having a common origin, tradition, and language and capable of forming or actually constituting a nation-state The diverse nationalities of the Austro-Hungarian Empire desired independence.
b : an ethnic group constituting one element of a larger unit (such as a nation) The country is home to five nationalities.

Synonyms for nationality


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Examples of nationality in a Sentence

The country is home to five nationalities and seven languages. people of all races and nationalities She's American, but her parents are of Japanese nationality. He has held French nationality for the past 20 years. The university has students of over 50 nationalities.
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Recent Examples on the Web The thousands of names in the Aladdin files were sorted by nationality. The New Yorker, 4 Nov. 2021 The bureau would help apprehend aliens of enemy nationality (not only Japanese), but not U.S. citizens. Thomas J. Baker, WSJ, 17 Oct. 2021 Based on passport nationality and departure point, the map explains the varying restrictions for different destinations to ease the travel planning process. Ramsey Qubein, Forbes, 17 Oct. 2021 The duo, both born in Canada, defy easy categorization in a sport where both nationality and ethnicity have often proved contentious. Richard Galant, CNN, 19 Sep. 2021 In 2011, declaring they’d been detained because of their nationality, not their actions, Joshua Fattal and Shane Bauer, two American hikers held for more than two years in an Iranian prison, returned to the United States., 25 Sep. 2021 Her characters, for all the particularities of their nationality, their race, and their class, offered an admirably collective vision of humankind. Merve Emre, The New Yorker, 28 Aug. 2021 Police released the man’s age, nationality, place of employment and visa status. Washington Post, 23 July 2021 Also requires police to explain a person’s right to refuse to disclose nationality, citizenship or immigration status and the potential immigration consequences of the refusal. oregonlive, 26 June 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'nationality.' 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 nationality

1691, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for nationality

Time Traveler

The first known use of nationality was in 1691

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Statistics for nationality

Last Updated

23 Nov 2021

Cite this Entry

“Nationality.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Dec. 2021.

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English Language Learners Definition of nationality

: a group of people who share the same history, traditions, and language, and who usually live together in a particular country
: the fact or status of being a member or citizen of a particular nation


na·​tion·​al·​i·​ty | \ ˌna-shə-ˈna-lə-tē How to pronounce nationality (audio) \
plural nationalities

Kids Definition of nationality

1 : the fact or state of belonging to a particular country
2 : the state of being a separate country
3 : a group of people having a common history, tradition, culture, or language

More from Merriam-Webster on nationality

Nglish: Translation of nationality for Spanish Speakers

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


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