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

Besides economic reform, Hu Yaobang, the most liberal-minded party leader China ever had, wanted to bring a level of transparency to the totalitarian state, which angered his political opponents. Helen Raleigh, National Review, "Thirty Years after Tiananmen, China Is Still Unwilling to Tell the Truth," 4 June 2019 This is why totalitarian governments reliably shut down or take over religious groups, trade unions, and other voluntary associations. Christopher Beha, Harper's magazine, "Winning the Peace," 10 May 2019 That is precisely the kind of environment that fascism built in Italy before WWII, one in which totalitarian regimes are able to thrive. Annalisa Merelli, Quartz, "Fake news has been enabling fascism for a whole century," 15 Aug. 2019 Based on the novel by Margaret Atwood, the drama series is set in a dystopian world where women, oppressed by a totalitarian regime, are only valued for their ability to produce offspring. Rachel Yang, EW.com, "The Handmaid's Tale renewed for season 4," 26 July 2019 The trio feared arrest and potential execution less than living under the yoke of a totalitarian regime. Martin Kuz, The Christian Science Monitor, "In N. Korea nuclear talks, what about human rights?," 20 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 After all, totalitarian regimes do not have many ethical limits or transparent media to report on experiments. Joe Pappalardo, Popular Mechanics, "Short-Term Superhuman: If We Create Augmented Soldiers, Can We Turn Them Back?," 25 Sep. 2018 This precise irrational rationale is the intellectual formula of choice for budding totalitarian regimes. Laurie Penny, Longreads, "Peterson’s Complaint," 12 July 2018

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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Last Updated

7 Sep 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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Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with totalitarian

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Spanish Central: Translation of totalitarian

Nglish: Translation of totalitarian for Spanish Speakers

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