totalitarian

adjective
to·tal·i·tar·i·an | \(ˌ)tō-ˌta-lə-ˈter-ē-ən \

Definition of totalitarian 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1a : of or relating to centralized control by an autocratic leader or hierarchy : authoritarian, dictatorial especially : despotic

b : of or relating to a political regime based on subordination of the individual to the state and strict control of all aspects of the life and productive capacity of the nation especially by coercive measures (such as censorship and terrorism)

2a : advocating or characteristic of totalitarianism

b : completely regulated by the state especially as an aid to national mobilization in an emergency

c : exercising autocratic powers

totalitarian

noun

Definition of totalitarian (Entry 2 of 2)

: an advocate or practitioner of totalitarianism

Examples of totalitarian in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Some experts warn that under President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, Egypt is sliding from authoritarian rule into a totalitarian system where even a smidgen of dissent is intolerable. Declan Walsh, New York Times, "Even With Mo Salah in the World Cup, Egypt Can’t Seem to Catch a Break," 23 June 2018 And even in Pyongyang, Western and South Korean pressure groups attest, the deadening totalitarian system is as intrusive as ever. The Economist, "What life is like for ordinary North Koreans," 26 May 2018 His successors also craved order but feared the consequences of totalitarian rule. Paul Mozur, New York Times, "Inside China’s Dystopian Dreams: A.I., Shame and Lots of Cameras," 8 July 2018 An obsession with hierarchy does not make a person a totalitarian, just as a devotion to proto-eugenic thinking combined with a rigid religious morality does not make a person a Nazi. Laurie Penny, Longreads, "Peterson’s Complaint," 12 July 2018 These stories have led many to conclude that the Trump administration is acting inhumanely — or even in a totalitarian fashion. Dara Lind, Vox, "“Families Belong Together” rallies are protesting the separation of immigrant children from parents," 14 June 2018 Fearing insurrection and separatism, China’s rulers have reinforced techniques of totalitarian control—including the mass detention of Uighurs for re-education—with digital technology. The Economist, "Does China’s digital police state have echoes in the West?," 31 May 2018 There is the sprawling and corporate Dark Side, totalitarian-leaning in aesthetic: Foster + Partners, the late Zaha Hadid, Herzog & de Meuron, and Koolhaas’s Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA). Kyle Chayka, The New Republic, "From architect to tastemaker, Bjarke Ingels is designing the future.," 2 May 2018 This precise irrational rationale is the intellectual formula of choice for budding totalitarian regimes. Laurie Penny, Longreads, "Peterson’s Complaint," 12 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Some of his most popular works were surrealistic fantasies set in grisly worlds run by totalitarians and conformists. Fox News, "Science fiction author Harlan Ellison dead at age 84," 28 June 2018 Some of Ellison's most popular works were surrealistic fantasies set in grisly worlds run by totalitarians and conformists. Robert Jablon, USA TODAY, "'Star Trek' scriptwriter Harlan Ellison, master of sci-fi literature, dies at 84," 28 June 2018 Surveying the literary output of leaders from Lenin to Kim Jong-il, Kalder asks why so many totalitarians dabble in literature. Colin Dickey, The New Republic, "Why Dictators Write," 22 Mar. 2018 No reasonable purpose is served by using a term that lumps together totalitarians, autocrats, conservatives and democratic nationalists, as though these are all varieties of a single dark worldview. Yoram Hazony, WSJ, "There’s No Such Thing as an ‘Illiberal’," 4 Aug. 2017 Alas, the illiberal totalitarians who demanded that the American Conservative Union reverse course denied us a chance to find out. Osita Nwanevu, Slate Magazine, "There’s nothing outrageous about stamping out bigoted speech.," 12 Mar. 2017 That’s always true of violent radicals and would-be totalitarians. Jonah Goldberg, National Review, "The Alt-Right Is Bad — And So Is ‘Antifa’," 18 Aug. 2017 Not only did Churchill take his nation to war with all these totalitarians,... William Mcgurn, WSJ, "‘America First’ Takes On a New Meaning," 23 Jan. 2017

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

Adjective

1926, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Noun

circa 1934, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for totalitarian

Adjective

Italian totalitario, from totalità totality

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Last Updated

7 Sep 2018

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Time Traveler for totalitarian

The first known use of totalitarian was in 1926

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More Definitions for totalitarian

totalitarian

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of totalitarian

: controlling the people of a country in a very strict way with complete power that cannot be opposed

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