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

This sets us up for other fights, whether something defensive such as stopping school privatization or something proactive such as nationalizing energy companies. Meagan Day, Vox, "Democratic socialism, explained by a democratic socialist," 1 Aug. 2018 The committee's ranking member, Rep. Patrick McHenry, R-N.C., blamed Democratic policies that have nationalized student debt lending for creating a problem that has grown to more than $1.5 trillion worth of student debt. NBC News, "Comedian Hasan Minhaj tells Congress that student borrowers are 'treated like deadbeats'," 10 Sep. 2019 Difficulties continued even after the industry was partly nationalized in 1975 under British Leyland, a company that was kept afloat with billions of pounds provided by taxpayers. Charles Riley, CNN, "The UK auto industry is facing a slow death," 31 July 2019 While Bevin, who is the most unpopular governor in the U.S., has sought to nationalize much of the state race, Beshear is trying to keep voters' attention on their pocketbooks and kitchen table. Phillip M. Bailey, The Courier-Journal, "Gov. Matt Bevin is attending President Donald Trump's political rally in Cincinnati," 18 July 2019 The complaint seeks to hold Citgo liable for an unpaid arbitration judgment over glass-manufacturing plants that Venezuela seized and nationalized in... Andrew Scurria, WSJ, "U.S. Glassmaker Targets Venezuela’s Citgo," 12 Feb. 2019 Where everyone loses me is with the idea that the solution to these maladies can be found in Washington or in nationalizing movements of the Right or the Left. Jonah Goldberg, National Review, "Neither Left nor Right Has Proper Remedy for America’s Illness," 7 Aug. 2019 If pushed into a corner, China could respond in kind by blacklisting American firms and even nationalizing U.S. assets in China. Charlie Campbell / Beijing, Time, "The U.S.-China Trade War Is Steering the World Toward Crisis and There Is No Easy Retreat," 7 Aug. 2019 The nationalizing movements aim to fill the void left by the decline or disappearance not just of industrial jobs, but of the healthy communities that grew up around the factories. Jonah Goldberg, National Review, "Neither Left nor Right Has Proper Remedy for America’s Illness," 7 Aug. 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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Statistics for nationalize

Last Updated

11 Oct 2019

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The first known use of nationalize was in 1799

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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



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

Comments on nationalize

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


to wander slowly or to speak indistinctly

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