na·​tion·​al·​ize | \ˈnash-nə-ˌlīz, 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, ˌna-​shə-​nə-​lə-​ \ noun
nationalizer \ˈnash-​nə-​ˌlī-​zər, 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

Laura Ingraham talked about nationalizing Google and Facebook. Eric Johnson, Recode, "Is it time for a ‘slow food’ movement for the internet?," 12 Sep. 2018 The worst-case scenario in China, says Paul Triolo, a technology analyst at the Eurasia Group think tank, is if Beijing were to nationalize some of its tech giants. Christopher Mims, WSJ, "The Global Tech Backlash Is Just Beginning," 25 Oct. 2018 The action stemmed from Venezuela’s decision to nationalize foreign oil assets a decade ago. New York Times, "Workers Flee and Thieves Loot Venezuela’s Reeling Oil Giant," 14 June 2018 At the government level, the Kremlin isn’t pushing Deripaska to leave and has no plan to nationalize the company., "Billionaire Deripaska is said to plan to keep hands on Rusal," 26 Apr. 2018 Gaza remained under Egyptian military rule until the Suez Canal Crisis of 1956, when Egypt nationalized that major shipping route in defiance of Britain and France, preventing Israeli ships from passing through the canal. Ciara Nugent, Time, "The Gaza Strip Is Only 25 Miles Long. Here’s How It Became the Center of Decades of Conflict," 14 May 2018 At the government level, the Kremlin isn’t pushing Deripaska to leave and has no plan to nationalize the company. Yuliya Fedorinova,, "Oleg Deripaska Plans on Keeping Control of Rusal," 27 Apr. 2018 On Friday, Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov told reporters in Washington his government doesn’t plan to nationalize Rusal., "Metals Cap Turbulent Week as Rusal Sanctions Fuel Supply Fears," 20 Apr. 2018 And politics, once dominated by parochial concerns, has become increasingly nationalized in the age of Twitter and Facebook, where O’Rourke is a constant presence. Kevin Diaz And Alejandra Matos, San Antonio Express-News, "O’Rourke vs. Cruz draws millions in contributions from outside of Texas," 11 July 2018

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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Last Updated

6 Dec 2018

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The first known use of nationalize was in 1799

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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 \
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 \
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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