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.

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Synonyms for nationality


ethnicity, nation, race

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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

Contests celebrate children from all nationalities and social classes, are inclusive of babies with developmental disabilities, and fund programs in low-income communities, once the target of eugenics campaigns. Audrey Farley, Longreads, "We Still Don’t Know How to Navigate the Cultural Legacy of Eugenics," 20 June 2019 From Rio de Janeiro to Richmond, users can search for potential mates of their nationality, ethnicity, or tribe in any city on the globe. Ashley Mcdonough, Essence, "This Black Woman Is Breaking Barriers For People Of Color In Tech," 14 June 2019 My contention in many columns and across my book is that conflict, risk, political stress, and collective ambitions bring our nationality to the fore. Michael Brendan Dougherty, National Review, "Are You, or Have You Ever Been, an American?," 4 June 2019 Since the start of their relationship, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have taken care to consider both their nationalities. Vogue, "How Prince Harry and Meghan Markle May Put an American Spin on Royal Parenthood," 19 Apr. 2019 The British government denied the request for diplomatic status and said his Ecuadorean nationality wouldn’t protect him. Aruna Viswanatha, WSJ, "WikiLeaks Founder Arrested, Charged With Computer-Hacking Conspiracy," 11 Apr. 2019 The Mexican-American War in 1846-48 brought a change in nationality, an international border and a new generation of immigrants. Roger Showley, San Diego Union-Tribune, "250 years of San Diego," 30 June 2019 An article on Page 30 about fertility and obesity misidentifies the nationalities of the authors of a 2017 study in the journal Patient Education and Counseling. New York Times, "Corrections: June 23, 2019," 23 June 2019 Other polls have asked similar questions, but this one claims to be the first to study on a global scale how attitudes vary by nationality, gender, income, and education. Alex Fox, Science | AAAS, "Top stories: Jobs just for women, fish losing their senses, and the evolution of puppy dog eyes," 21 June 2019

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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Statistics for nationality

Last Updated

18 Jul 2019

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Time Traveler for nationality

The first known use of nationality was in 1691

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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
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

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