na·​tion·​al·​i·​ty | \ˌna-shə-ˈna-lə-tē, 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

In recent years strikers Diego Costa and Eduardo have controversially represented Spain and Croatia after earning dual nationalities. Henry Young, CNN, "Your Country Needs You! What nationality means to the modern-day footballer," 4 June 2018 Shakespeare endures alongside analyses of his flawed characterizations of all kinds of races, nationalities, religions and women. Wesley Morris, New York Times, "Who Gets to Decide What Belongs in the ‘Canon’?," 30 May 2018 For its part, Hawaii points to another section of the INA that forbids discrimination on the basis of race, nationality, or place of birth when issuing an immigration visa. Henry Gass, The Christian Science Monitor, "As Supreme Court hears travel ban, questions of presidential authority also on docket," 25 Apr. 2018 But the private elite tends to work among more races and nationalities; some trading floors look like 1980s Benetton commercials. Janan Ganesh, Town & Country, "The Bonfire of the Vanities," 8 Dec. 2017 The countries are teeming with adventurers of all ages, sizes, and nationalities who come to hike, bike, scuba dive, skydive, bungee jump, paraglide, parasail, zip line, or otherwise test their fitness, nerve, and dexterity. Rick Warner,, "Trying out all the adventures Australia and New Zealand have to offer," 12 June 2018 Latin Americans tend to think of themselves not in terms of race but nationality. John Blake, CNN, "The blurring of racial lines won't save America. Why 'racial fluidity' is a con," 11 June 2018 Coach Ek and three of the boys have no nationality. John Bacon, ajc, "WATCH: Video shows rescued Thai soccer players flashing victory sign from hospital beds," 12 July 2018 Coach Ek and three of the boys have no nationality. John Bacon, USA TODAY, "How 100 heroes came together to rescue 12 boys and their coach from the Thailand cave," 11 July 2018

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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Last Updated

7 Nov 2018

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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

: the fact or status of being a member or citizen of a particular nation


na·​tion·​al·​i·​ty | \ˌna-shə-ˈna-lə-tē \
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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