totalitarian

adjective
to·​tal·​i·​tar·​i·​an | \ (ˌ)tō-ˌta-lə-ˈter-ē-ən How to pronounce totalitarian (audio) \

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

Large-scale military parades these days evoke the totalitarian aesthetic of North Korea or the Soviet Union, where aging despots would demonstrate the perseverance of their regimes to the world. Matt Ford, The New Republic, "Tanks, But No Tanks," 4 July 2019 In the show, the Aryavart kingdom (Hindu supremacists) demolishes the Taj Mahal to rid India of its Muslim presence as its leader rides to absolute power on totalitarian ideals. Rana Ayyub, Time, "What a Rising Tide of Violence Against Muslims in India Says About Modi's Second Term," 28 June 2019 Long before Versailles, the other great totalitarian ideology of the 20th century, Marxism-Leninism, was on the march. Joseph Loconte, WSJ, "The Versailles Treaty Gets a Bum Rap," 27 June 2019 Does human nature undergo a true change in the cauldron of totalitarian violence? Aaron Lake Smith, Harper's magazine, "The Trials of Vasily Grossman," 24 June 2019 In it, a totalitarian religious group has overthrown the U.S. government. Carole Goldberg, courant.com, "Write Stuff: 'Tiger Woods,' Lyme Disease And 'Mrs.' At R.J. Julia This Week," 28 Mar. 2018 This is the idea that the world would divide into three totalitarian super-states that were rigidly hierarchical, in complete control of information and expression, and engaged in perpetual and unwinnable wars for world domination. Louis Menand, The New Yorker, "“1984” at Seventy: Why We Still Read Orwell’s Book of Prophecy," 8 June 2019 Music, Pawlikowski gently suggests, is always performing ideological work, whether it’s in the service of a totalitarian regime or the flattering self-image of the West. Giles Harvey, Harper's magazine, "Home Truths," 10 Jan. 2019 George Orwell repeatedly delayed crucial medical care to complete 1984, the book still synonymous with our worst fears of a totalitarian future — published 70 years ago this month. Shoshana Zuboff, Time, "The Surveillance Threat Is Not What Orwell Imagined," 6 June 2019

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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Statistics for totalitarian

Last Updated

13 Jul 2019

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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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More from Merriam-Webster on totalitarian

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with totalitarian

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for totalitarian

Spanish Central: Translation of totalitarian

Nglish: Translation of totalitarian for Spanish Speakers

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