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



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 Moscow initially partnered with Nazi Berlin to divide eastern Europe between the two totalitarian regimes. James Nixey, CNN, 29 Apr. 2022 Prominent later commentators, including Karl Popper and Isaiah Berlin, scorned the Idealists’ communalism as inherently nationalistic and even totalitarian, preparing Germany for its militaristic, authoritarian future. Jeffrey Collins, WSJ, 18 Mar. 2022 The Ukrainian parliament has recognized Russia as a terrorist state and banned military symbols Z and V, and the propaganda of the Russian neo-Nazi totalitarian regime. Katya Soldak, Forbes, 14 Apr. 2022 While there’s no totalitarian regime in Bulgaria for more than 30 years now, the echo of these times is still here. Emiliano Granada, Variety, 28 Mar. 2022 Also, Yandex operates its services in a totalitarian country. Chris Smith, BGR, 29 Mar. 2022 Through the decades of the Cold War and thereafter, National Review set forth those great principles of American foreign policy that remain the cornerstone of resistance to — and prevention of — totalitarian aggression. Peter J. Travers, National Review, 29 Mar. 2022 Does that justify swallowing misgivings about the totalitarian nature of Venezuelan strongman Nicolás Maduro, or the assassination of a journalist by the rulers of Saudi Arabia? Gerald F. Seib, WSJ, 21 Mar. 2022 The 20th-century totalitarian model has not been banished; it can be brought back, at any place and at any time. Anne Applebaum, The Atlantic, 17 Mar. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun But that would not address the fundamental goal of the protests: to end the totalitarian stranglehold that has subjected the Cubans to an unbearable serfdom. Néstor T. Carbonell, National Review, 16 July 2021 And there’s another reason why totalitarians capable of horrific human rights violations are a real hosting nightmare. Sarah Todd, Quartz, 27 Dec. 2019 Some of his most popular works were surrealistic fantasies set in grisly worlds run by totalitarians and conformists. Fox News, 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, 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, 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, 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, 12 Mar. 2017 That’s always true of violent radicals and would-be totalitarians. Jonah Goldberg, National Review, 18 Aug. 2017 See More

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.

First Known Use of totalitarian


1926, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


circa 1934, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for totalitarian


Italian totalitario, from totalità totality

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The first known use of totalitarian was in 1926

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Last Updated

18 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Totalitarian.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 May. 2022.

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Nglish: Translation of totalitarian for Spanish Speakers


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