to·​tal·​i·​tar·​i·​an·​ism (ˌ)tō-ˌta-lə-ˈter-ē-ə-ˌni-zəm How to pronounce totalitarianism (audio)
: centralized control by an autocratic authority
: the political concept that the citizen should be totally subject to an absolute state authority

Examples of totalitarianism in a Sentence

in times of crisis, when a nation's people are frightened, there are often calls for totalitarianism
Recent Examples on the Web These thinkers worried that by embracing ideals of emancipation and continual improvement, liberalism could devolve into totalitarianism. Helena Rosenblatt, Foreign Affairs, 20 Feb. 2024 In the few cities where memorials exist to past victims of Russian totalitarianism, these monuments became the destinations. Masha Gessen, The New Yorker, 17 Feb. 2024 June should be revered and celebrated for America freeing the world from totalitarianism during WWII, not insanity. For Carroll County Times, Baltimore Sun, 7 Jan. 2024 But people have to realize that totalitarianism in Cuba is overwhelming. Jay Nordlinger, National Review, 20 June 2023 This unsettling dystopian novel, which won the 2023 Booker Prize, imagines an Ireland that has fallen into totalitarianism. The New Yorker, 18 Dec. 2023 Several museums examine totalitarianism and the Holocaust; the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe takes up an entire city block. Masha Gessen, The New Yorker, 9 Dec. 2023 In the mid-twentieth century, liberals dreaded the ideological and geopolitical threats of fascism and totalitarianism. Alan S. Kahan, Foreign Affairs, 12 Dec. 2023 The regime’s embrace of this concept in its most primitive form has coincided with a shift from soft authoritarianism into what is now closer to a hybrid totalitarianism modeled on Stalinist precepts. Andrei Kolesnikov, Foreign Affairs, 22 Aug. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'totalitarianism.' 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

1926, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of totalitarianism was in 1926

Dictionary Entries Near totalitarianism

Cite this Entry

“Totalitarianism.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Mar. 2024.

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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