na·​tion·​al·​ize | \ ˈnash-nə-ˌlīz How to pronounce nationalize (audio) , ˈna-shə-nə-ˌlīz \
nationalized; nationalizing

Definition of nationalize

transitive verb

1 : to give a national character to
2 : to invest control or ownership of in the national government

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Other Words from nationalize

nationalization \ ˌnash-​nə-​lə-​ˈzā-​shən How to pronounce nationalization (audio) , ˌna-​shə-​nə-​lə-​ \ noun
nationalizer \ ˈnash-​nə-​ˌlī-​zər How to pronounce nationalizer (audio) , ˌna-​shə-​nə-​ˌlī-​zər \ noun

Examples of nationalize in a Sentence

The government nationalized the health-care system in the mid-1950s. nationalizing the country's oil supply
Recent Examples on the Web Their platforms included promises to dismantle the entire U.S. military and nationalize most industries. Joseph Simonson, Washington Examiner, "Bernie Sanders once compared himself favorably to Nicaraguan strongman Daniel Ortega," 8 Feb. 2020 At the height of Cold War tensions, Mossadegh pledged to nationalize Iran's oil fields, which was widely seen as both popular in Iran and a victory for the then USSR. Luke Mcgee, CNN, "5 things you need to know to understand the Iran-US crisis," 8 Jan. 2020 Labour wants to nationalize your broadband provider. By Sam Knight, The New Yorker, "Hugh Grant Is Living His Best British Election," 10 Dec. 2019 Among them are proposals to nationalize a slew of sectors, including railways, broadband, postal services, and water and energy firms. Adam Rasmi, Quartz, "A simple way to measure the drastically differing ambitions of the UK’s major political parties," 29 Nov. 2019 The president has a 57 percent approval rating in Kentucky, which Republicans will look to use to their advantage by nationalizing the race. Caitlin Conant, CBS News, "2020 Daily Trail Markers: Trump's "lynching" tweet attracts criticism," 22 Oct. 2019 Instead, arguably the driving force in today’s politics is how nationalized it’s become. NBC News, "In the Trump Era, almost no politics is local," 1 Nov. 2019 Republicans are working to nationalize the Louisiana governor’s race, but Edwards doesn’t quite fit the mold of national Democratic politics. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Split GOP tries to unite in Louisiana governor’s race runoff," 13 Oct. 2019 One of the lawsuits filed was filed by José Ramon López Regueiro, a Cuban-American living in Miami who is the son of the man who owned Havana’s international airport before Castro nationalized it, at the start of the revolution. Jon Lee Anderson, The New Yorker, "In Its Fight with Venezuela, the Trump Administration Takes Aim at Cuba," 10 Oct. 2019

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

1799, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for nationalize

Time Traveler

The first known use of nationalize was in 1799

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Statistics for nationalize

Last Updated

15 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Nationalize.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for nationalize



Financial Definition of nationalization

What It Is

Nationalization occurs when a country's government seizes the assets of corporations or resources without paying for those assets.

How It Works

Let's say Country XYZ elects John Doe. A year before he is due for re-election, John Doe dissolves the ineffective representative houses of government and issues an executive order abolishing presidential term limits. In this way, he is able to assume a dictatorial form of leadership.

Doe then decides that the people of Country XYZ should not have to pay for food. Accordingly, he nationalizes the food manufacturing companies, including Kraft. In doing so, he seizes Kraft's factories, cash accounts, manufacturing equipment and other assets but does not provide compensation to Kraft's investors for those assets. He then appoints a person to run and manage the company on behalf of the government.

The Gold Reserve Act nationalized gold and fixed its price. The Gold Reserve Act was notable because in an attempt to end the Great Depression, it fixed the value of the U.S. Treasury’s gold holdings. By legislating that $1 was worth 15.715 grains of gold, a troy ounce of gold could buy $35 rather than $20.67. By devaluing the dollar this way, the value of the Treasury’s gold increased by $2.81 billion.

After seizing everybody’s gold, the Gold Reserve Act allowed the Treasury to then set the price of gold at $35. The Treasury used the profits to create an Exchange Stabilization Fund, which (even today) allows it to trade foreign currency in order to stabilize the exchange value of U.S. currency without affecting domestic money supply or requiring Congressional approval

Why It Matters

Nationalization is a controversial action, and most investors in nationalized companies will say that it is basically theft. However, when governments nationalize industries or companies, they usually do so in an attempt to control prices for the products those industries produce, are interested in "redistributing wealth," or control the expenses associated with production in that industry. It is most common in developing economies and is sometimes a way to grab power.

Source: Investing Answers


How to pronounce nationalize (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of nationalize

: to cause (something) to be under the control of a national government


na·​tion·​al·​ize | \ ˈna-shə-nə-ˌlīz How to pronounce nationalize (audio) \
nationalized; nationalizing

Kids Definition of nationalize

: to place under government control

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transitive verb
na·​tion·​al·​ize | \ ˈna-shə-nə-ˌlīz How to pronounce nationalize (audio) \
nationalized; nationalizing

Legal Definition of nationalize

: to invest control or ownership of in the national government

More from Merriam-Webster on nationalize

Spanish Central: Translation of nationalize

Nglish: Translation of nationalize for Spanish Speakers

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