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

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 Cancel culture is a form of soft totalitarianism: the persecution of one’s political opponents in the place of debate and the complete condemnation of those who make mistakes. Madeleine Kearns, National Review, 24 Apr. 2022 Hannah Arendt called widespread loneliness an underlying condition for totalitarianism. New York Times, 20 Apr. 2022 For Belarusians, the shift from gray to black, from autocracy to totalitarianism, was calculable in lives. New York Times, 30 Mar. 2022 National Review was conceived in no small part to present — indeed to insist upon — a more resolute opposition to totalitarianism. Peter J. Travers, National Review, 29 Mar. 2022 The story ends in 1945 thanks only to the focus on Europe and the democracy-versus-totalitarianism framing, which crops empire out of the picture. Daniel Immerwahr, The Atlantic, 4 Apr. 2022 His efforts to clear his name take him on a serpentine journey that ultimately leads to a ring of dissidents bent on destroying American capitalism and replacing it with Nazi-style totalitarianism. Gregg Opelka, WSJ, 21 Mar. 2022 The red flag and the swastika—the two main visual symbols of twentieth-century totalitarianism—emerged from years of ideological, aesthetic, and even spiritual movement-shaping. Masha Gessen, The New Yorker, 7 Mar. 2022 How could a writer so zealous about exposing totalitarianism have had much time for other pursuits? Peter Tonguette, The Christian Science Monitor, 8 Feb. 2022 See More

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.

First Known Use of totalitarianism

1926, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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The first known use of totalitarianism was in 1926

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Last Updated

21 May 2022

Cite this Entry

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

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