to·​tal·​i·​tar·​i·​an·​ism | \ (ˌ)tō-ˌta-lə-ˈter-ē-ə-ˌni-zəm How to pronounce totalitarianism (audio) \

Definition of totalitarianism

1 : centralized control by an autocratic authority
2 : the political concept that the citizen should be totally subject to an absolute state authority

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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 On the right, some think the pandemic is wildly overblown and being used to introduce totalitarianism. TheWeek, "Would a coronavirus vaccine win Trump the election?," 6 Aug. 2020 Such is the case with the orchestrated protests against DeWine and Acton, with protesters flouting coronavirus restrictions and saying simple safety measures (such as wearing masks) amounted to totalitarianism. cleveland, "The top newsmakers in Ohio politics for 2020: Analysis," 27 Dec. 2020 If the steady encroachment of soft secular totalitarianism in public schools is to be halted, the conservative legal movement will have to set about dismantling the corrosive precedents of progressive jurisprudence. Cameron Hilditch, National Review, "Classroom Busybodies Ban a ‘Jesus Loves Me’ Mask," 13 Nov. 2020 The totalitarianism of today is soft around the edges. Cameron Hilditch, National Review, "Classroom Busybodies Ban a ‘Jesus Loves Me’ Mask," 13 Nov. 2020 Within a few years, as old divisions turned into unbridgeable chasms, the history of Soviet totalitarianism, left unexamined, gave way to all-encompassing nostalgia. Masha Gessen, The New Yorker, "Why America Needs a Reckoning with the Trump Era," 10 Nov. 2020 Soft totalitarianism will not emanate from the government, pace George Orwell. James E. Person Jr., National Review, "Rod Dreher’s Advice for Christians in a Secular Age," 17 Sep. 2020 In late August, Kennedy traveled to Berlin, where thousands of demonstrators had gathered to protest, among other things, the encroachment of government into their private lives and what Kennedy terms medical and digital totalitarianism. Ryan D'agostino, Town & Country, "What is Robert Kennedy Jr. Fighting For?," 19 Oct. 2020 That period and the period immediately after also witnessed terrible labor violence, the rise of totalitarianism, two depressions, two world wars, several genocides, and other mass killings of extraordinary volume. Tim Wu, The Atlantic, "How to Stop Innovation From Breaking America," 16 Oct. 2020

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

1926, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for totalitarianism

Time Traveler

The first known use of totalitarianism was in 1926

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Statistics for totalitarianism

Last Updated

20 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Totalitarianism.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Mar. 2021.

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