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 All over Europe, the past few years have seen a noticeable growth in xenophobia, particularly in reaction to asylum seekers and immigrants. Annalisa Merelli, Quartz, "The state of global right-wing populism in 2019," 30 Dec. 2019 This sowing of hatred and fear and nationalism and xenophobia, which is very profitable for certain world leaders at the moment, is leading straight ahead to what this film depicts. Scott Roxborough, The Hollywood Reporter, "Stellan Skarsgard on 'Painted Bird's' Mass Audience Walkouts and the Key Takeaway," 7 Nov. 2019 From the start, the language used by those working for his outlets has come under criticism as promoting xenophobia, homophobia, euroskepticism and anti-Semitism. Marc Santora, New York Times, "Mixing Politics and Piety, a Conservative Priest Seeks to Shape Poland’s Future," 21 Sep. 2019 But to Latinos in an era of deportations and xenophobia, Pepe’s career has become a reminder of the power of knowing your roots — and a challenge for others to do the same. Los Angeles Times, "Pepe Aguilar’s ‘Rodeo Without Borders’ evokes old Mexico, with touches of L.A.," 15 Sep. 2019 Zootopia One probably wouldn't expect to see a kids' movie address xenophobia, sexism, and classism, but Zootopia does just that... Mehera Bonner And Cady Drell, Marie Claire, "25 Animated Movies Every Adult Should Watch," 5 Sep. 2019 Now there are few places where xenophobia, homophobia, religious and/or racist attacks do not, at some point, become part of our daily discourse. Letter Writers, Twin Cities, "Letters: FYI to new students: This state needs better accountants," 1 Sep. 2019 Unfortunately, outside of their kinfolk, they were met with derision, prejudice and vehement xenophobia. Steve West, sun-sentinel.com, "Where are you from? | Opinion," 12 Dec. 2019 There has been a return of anti-Semitism and, in general, a disquieting embrace of xenophobia across the continents. James Mcauley, Town & Country, "The Oldest Money: Inside Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa's Sicilian Palazzo," 10 Dec. 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

17 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Xenophobia.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/xenophobia. Accessed 29 January 2020.

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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

What made you want to look up xenophobia? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to assert without proof or before proving

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