xe·​no·​pho·​bia | \ˌze-nə-ˈfō-bē-ə, ˌzē-\

Definition of xenophobia 

: fear and hatred of strangers or foreigners or of anything that is strange or foreign

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Did You Know?

If you look back to the ancient Greek terms that underlie the word xenophobia, you'll discover that xenophobic individuals are literally "stranger fearing." Xenophobia, that elegant-sounding name for an aversion to persons unfamiliar, ultimately derives from two Greek terms: xenos, which can be translated as either "stranger" or "guest," and phobos, which means either "fear" or "flight." Phobos is the ultimate source of all English -phobia terms, but many of those were actually coined in English or New Latin using the combining form -phobia (which traces back to phobos). Xenophobia itself came to us by way of New Latin and first appeared in print in English in the late 19th century.

Examples of xenophobia in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Blomkamp’s previous films, all set in South Africa, have dealt with class divisions, xenophobia, and pharma corruption, using Apartheid as an entry point for most of these issues. Richard Newby, The Hollywood Reporter, "Why 'Robocop' and Neill Blomkamp Need Each Other," 11 July 2018 Instead of offering a sprawling overview, Ms. Fairrie profiles individuals and families in France and Israel, in an apparent effort to capture a cycle of fear and xenophobia that, if exposed, might also offer hope for rapprochement. Ben Kenigsberg, New York Times, "Review: ‘Spiral’ Chronicles the Impact of Prejudice on Everyday Lives," 21 June 2018 The only potential good news — as the academic Klinkler pointed out in this essay — is that the harsh dog whistle of Trump’s xenophobia that only his supporters picked up in 2016 is now audible for all to hear. Will Bunch, Philly.com, "Can Trump's slow-motion ethnic cleansing keep whites in U.S. majority? | Will Bunch," 12 July 2018 There is Trump’s xenophobia in America, Brexit in Britain, a right-wing government in Poland … Geert Wilders’s ‘blond beastliness’ in the Netherlands, and the Kultur-warriors of Germany’s [AfD party]. James Hohmann, Washington Post, "The Daily 202: Kavanaugh’s paper trail makes his confirmation harder but ensures he’ll be reliably conservative," 10 July 2018 Our nation, currently led by men and women who subscribe to ideology based on nationalism and xenophobia, is turning into a country of chaos, one that looks less like freedom and more like fascism every day. Alexis Dent, Harper's BAZAAR, "We Are Gilead," 26 June 2018 Just five of the 32 artists were born in L.A. while eight hail from other countries, a mix that reinforces the virtue of cosmopolitanism in a period marked by a disturbing xenophobia. Christopher Knight, latimes.com, "Spring art exhibitions that transport to Laguna, Teotihuacan, Iran and beyond," 22 Mar. 2018 One item is a children’s book by American Nazi Party founder George Lincoln Rockwell that appears intended to promote xenophobia. David Z. Morris, Fortune, "Amazon Sold Books, Backpacks, and Toys Promoting Hate to Kids, Report Shows," 7 July 2018 The deepest stains identified in the Slater case by Conan Doyle were not of blood, but the darker tones of anti-Semitism and xenophobia. The Economist, "When Arthur Conan Doyle cried “J’Accuse…!”," 7 July 2018

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

1877, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for xenophobia

New Latin

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Last Updated

10 Oct 2018

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Time Traveler for xenophobia

The first known use of xenophobia was in 1877

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More Definitions for xenophobia



English Language Learners Definition of xenophobia

: fear or hatred of strangers or foreigners


xe·​no·​pho·​bia | \ˌzen-ə-ˈfō-bē-ə, ˌzēn- \

Medical Definition of xenophobia 

: fear and hatred of strangers or foreigners or of anything that is strange or foreign

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to clear from alleged fault or guilt

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