uni·​lat·​er·​al·​ism ˌyü-ni-ˈla-t(ə-)rə-ˌli-zəm How to pronounce unilateralism (audio)
: a policy of taking unilateral action (as in international affairs) regardless of outside support or reciprocity
also : advocacy of such a policy
unilateralist noun or adjective

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web Protectionism and unilateralism can protect no one. Jamey Keaten, ajc, 17 Jan. 2022 Only new legislation can cure presidential unilateralism and that is not in the offing. WSJ, 11 Nov. 2021 Voters repeatedly cite terrorism, China, and nuclear proliferation as the most significant threats to the United States and are quite comfortable with American unilateralism and a strong American military. Gabriel Scheinmann, National Review, 5 Sep. 2021 Trump’s tendency toward America First unilateralism was bracing to a man schooled in multilateral Cold War alliance-making. Jeremy Carl, Washington Examiner, 11 Feb. 2021 Nyabola thinks that the long-term impact of Trump's unilateralism carries two significant risks. Luke Mcgee, CNN, 30 Oct. 2020 Trump’s instinctive unilateralism, his belief that international institutions cage the U.S. rather than project its power, forced other nations to change their calculations about dealing with Washington. Tom Mctague, The Atlantic, 29 Oct. 2020 Meaningful action to protect human rights is rare, and the collectivist approach, which disdains unilateralism, keeps forceful sovereign responses at bay. Aaron Rhodes, WSJ, 18 Oct. 2020 The coalition has seen a revival in the post-Covid-19 world, despite the perception of Trump’s unilateralism, particularly because of the rising concern in the West with regards to Beijing, Kugelman said. Manavi Kapur, Quartz India, 13 Oct. 2020 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'unilateralism.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History

First Known Use

1926, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of unilateralism was in 1926

Dictionary Entries Near unilateralism

Cite this Entry

“Unilateralism.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/unilateralism. Accessed 2 Dec. 2022.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!

Commonly Confused Words Quiz

  • vector image of a face with thought expression
  • I went to the ______ store to buy a birthday card.
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.