pan·​op·​ti·​con pə-ˈnäp-ti-ˌkän How to pronounce panopticon (audio)
plural panopticons
: an optical instrument combining the telescope and microscope
: a circular prison built with cells arranged radially so that a guard at a central position can see all the prisoners

Examples of panopticon in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web In the absence of a federal privacy law, the U.S. national security establishment has used commercially available data to craft a creeping panopticon. Frank Bajak, Quartz, 4 Mar. 2024 The constant presence of video cameras can turn our streets and homes into weird panopticons, my colleague Drew Harwell wrote. Tatum Hunter, Washington Post, 29 Feb. 2024 The filming devices in the home establish a panopticon where the husband and children are pawns in an advertising campaign for the woman’s self-image. Abigail Anthony, National Review, 11 Feb. 2024 Hill was the first reporter to identify Clearview’s sprawling network and lays out how the explosion of video doorbells and security cameras that can identify faces are turning our world into a panopticon, and a racist one at that. Dave Lee and Parmy Olson, Twin Cities, 4 Jan. 2024 The panopticon has migrated onto our phones, creating a demand for intimacy and immediacy, or at least the approximation of it. Julianne Escobedo Shepherd, Pitchfork, 13 Dec. 2023 Part of this 21st century approach involved using multiple cameras to create a panopticon surveillance system that would capture each scene from multiple angles. Scott Roxborough, The Hollywood Reporter, 8 Jan. 2024 The open kitchen is also a sort of culinary panopticon. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, 21 Nov. 2023 Under the ever expanding media panopticon, celebrities like Jayne Mansfield and Marilyn Monroe refined the art of the publicity stunt throughout the 1960s to produce a mythology surrounding themselves that ascended beyond tabloid fodder. Colin Scanlon, Redbook, 4 Aug. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'panopticon.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1742, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of panopticon was in 1742

Dictionary Entries Near panopticon

Cite this Entry

“Panopticon.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 May. 2024.

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