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

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 Despite a wave of international praise for Colombia’s decision, Duque, too, has received criticisms domestically, though much of that criticism can also be rooted back to rising levels of xenophobia and tensions spurred on by the economic crisis. USA Today, "Colombia answers one of the biggest and least funded migrant crises. Would it work in the US?," 16 Apr. 2021 The xenophobia is now amplified, many believe, because of rhetoric related to where the virus first took hold. From Usa Today Network And Wire Reports, USA TODAY, "Chef initiative, ice fishing trash, Tribeca plans: News from around our 50 states," 31 Mar. 2021 The coalition formed in response to the uptick in anti-Asian xenophobia linked to the coronavirus pandemic, and includes verbal attacks as well as other incidents that might not fit into state-by-state legal definitions of a hate crime. Catherine Thorbecke, ABC News, "Why anti-Asian hate incidents often go unreported and how to help," 18 Mar. 2021 In New York, a wave of xenophobia and violence has been compounded by the economic fallout of the pandemic, which has dealt a severe blow to New York’s Asian-American communities. New York Times, "Brutal Attack on Filipino Woman Sparks Outrage: ‘Everybody Is on Edge’," 30 Mar. 2021 And the National Science Foundation will spend $33 million to study bias and xenophobia. Chris Megerian, Los Angeles Times, "Biden announces actions to address violence against Asian Americans," 30 Mar. 2021 Resurging xenophobia recalls Hollywood’s repeated images of Chinatown as a dark warren of yellow peril. Alison Willmore, Vulture, "What Was the Asian American Character Actor?," 26 Mar. 2021 This happened during World War II when more than 120,000 Japanese Americans were ordered into internment camps, and after 9/11 when South Asians were victims of xenophobia and Islamophobia. BostonGlobe.com, "I’m Asian American and racism makes COVID-19 more than a pandemic for me," 17 Mar. 2021 Biden signed a memorandum in late January denouncing xenophobia and violence against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. N'dea Yancey-bragg, USA TODAY, "Georgia killings increasing fear in Asian communities across nation," 17 Mar. 2021

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

27 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Xenophobia.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/xenophobia. Accessed 7 May. 2021.

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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 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

More from Merriam-Webster on xenophobia

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for xenophobia

Nglish: Translation of xenophobia for Spanish Speakers

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