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.

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms for nationality


Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web In 2018, more than 25,500 Honduran migrants were referred for credible fear screenings, the most of any nationality, according to data from the Department of Homeland Security. Kate Morrissey, San Diego Union-Tribune, "A legitimate fear of death doesn’t always matter in the US asylum system," 11 Oct. 2020 Under current Oklahoma state law, malicious crimes that target people based on race, religious affiliation, ancestry, nationality, or disability are classified as hate crimes. Michael Lee, Washington Examiner, "Oklahoma lawmaker set to make targeting police a hate crime," 16 Sep. 2020 Correction: Previous versions of this article misstated the nationality of Alphonso Davies. Jerry Zgoda, Star Tribune, "Kei Kamara wants to win a championship with Minnesota United," 23 Sep. 2020 An article on Monday about former world leaders demanding the ratification of a nuclear arms ban treaty misidentified the nationality of Willy Claes, a former NATO secretary-general. New York Times, "Corrections: Sept. 22, 2020," 21 Sep. 2020 The vote, announced at an extraordinary general meeting Monday, is a key step toward ending the Dove soap owner’s dual nationality. Thomas Buckley,, "Unilever Dutch Investors Approve Single London Headquarters," 21 Sep. 2020 Simon Segars, Arm's CEO, said U.S. export restrictions were based on where a technology was designed and licensed, not the nationality of its ownership. Jeremy Kahn, Fortune, "Why Nvidia’s purchase of Arm worries the U.K. tech sector," 14 Sep. 2020 But the report did not mention the nationality or race of the children. Joe Penney, The New York Review of Books, "The Hunger Strikers of Pine Prairie Protesting Indefinite Detention by ICE," 8 Sep. 2020 These are the ideas that define the American nationality — and that today empower people of all continents, races, and creeds. Jay Nordlinger, National Review, "Against Disunion," 31 Aug. 2020

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.

See More

First Known Use of nationality

1691, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about nationality

Time Traveler for nationality

Time Traveler

The first known use of nationality was in 1691

See more words from the same year

Statistics for nationality

Last Updated

17 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Nationality.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Oct. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for nationality


How to pronounce nationality (audio)

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
formal : 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

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on nationality

What made you want to look up nationality? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


Test Your Vocabulary

Namesakes Word Quiz

  • a citrus fruit possibly named after a person
  • Which of the following is a fruit named after a Moroccan seaport?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Add Diction

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!