xe·​no·​pho·​bia | \ ˌze-nə-ˈfō-bē-ə How to pronounce xenophobia (audio) , 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 Lee offers a sweeping record of xenophobia in the U.S., highlighting the different ways minority groups have been humiliated, discriminated against and even deported. Annabel Gutterman, Time, "Here Are the 11 New Books You Should Read in November," 1 Nov. 2019 If the lush animation weren’t enough to interest families, the story explores the value of intergenerational friendships and the perils of xenophobia. Web Behrens, chicagotribune.com, "15 things to do in the Chicago area with the kids Oct. 21-27," 20 Oct. 2019 Its xenophobia has been less of an electoral handicap in a country that did not go through a German-style post-Nazi reckoning. The Economist, "Voters turn against the populist right," 3 Oct. 2019 So many young people shared their hopes and dreams, but sometimes there was despair about unemployment and crime and xenophobia and violence against the LGBTQ community. Ilvy Njiokiktjien, National Geographic, "Apartheid ended 29 years ago. How has South Africa changed?," 26 Apr. 2019 Whilst incidents of xenophobia are clearly concerning, many Muslims have family in the Commonwealth and are open to Britain pivoting away from Europe and perhaps towards their countries of heritage. Musharraf Hussain, Time, "British Muslims Can Swing the U.K. Election, But Only If They Get Out and Vote," 18 Nov. 2019 But in 1940, as militarism and xenophobia were haunting the world, seven Catholic villagers in remote northeastern Thailand were executed for refusing to renounce their religion. Washington Post, "Tolerant Thailand to welcome pope, but martyrs tale haunts," 18 Nov. 2019 That includes systemic discrimination against people within Canada and overt xenophobia towards just about anyone who’d want to move there. BostonGlobe.com, "IT’S NOT THE image Americans would associate with a Canadian federal election: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, his bespoke suit stretched tight by hefty and conspicuous body armor, surrounded by a phalanx of bug-eyed uniformed tactical officers.," 26 Oct. 2019 Of course, xenophobia has always assumed the existence of in-groups and out-groups. John-paul Pagano, National Review, "Blood Libel: The Conspiracy Theory That Jews Are ‘Anti-Human’," 23 Sep. 2019

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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Time Traveler for xenophobia

Time Traveler

The first known use of xenophobia was in 1877

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Statistics for xenophobia

Last Updated

5 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Xenophobia.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/xenophobia. Accessed 14 December 2019.

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More Definitions for xenophobia


How to pronounce xenophobia (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of xenophobia

: fear or hatred of strangers or foreigners


xe·​no·​pho·​bia | \ ˌzen-ə-ˈfō-bē-ə How to pronounce xenophobia (audio) , ˌzēn- How to pronounce xenophobia (audio) \

Medical Definition of xenophobia

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on xenophobia

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for xenophobia

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with xenophobia

Spanish Central: Translation of xenophobia

Nglish: Translation of xenophobia for Spanish Speakers

Comments on xenophobia

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to assail by words or arguments

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