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

Keep scrolling for more

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 At the height of the pandemic, Ham organized several protests demanding an end to the xenophobia and rise of anti-Asian sentiment. Stephanie Lorenzo, ABC News, "‘We’re being scapegoated’: Asians and Asian Americans speak out against spate of violence," 18 Feb. 2021 A year into the pandemic, some steps are being taken to combat anti-Asian xenophobia. Katherine Singh, refinery29.com, "A Year Into COVID, Anti-Asian Racism Continues To Spread," 15 Feb. 2021 The traditional liberal stance, its damning mildness, its toothless threats, proves no match for the virulence of the xenophobia that has launched a thousand wars. Jenny Offill, The New York Review of Books, "Seeing Too Clearly," 3 Nov. 2020 Using these terms normalizes anti-Asian bias and promotes xenophobia. Minhae Shim Roth, Good Housekeeping, "How to Stand in Solidarity with the Asian Community During the Pandemic," 13 Oct. 2020 For the media, as Eric Weinstein notes, pressing the right buttons — playing up xenophobia and white supremacy when discussing immigration and police reform — results in better business (in the short term, of course). John Loftus, National Review, "The Movement against Elites," 2 Nov. 2020 With no ground game, McSally has tried the distinctly Trumpian strategy of linking Kelly to the anti-China xenophobia surrounding the coronavirus. Tom Zoellner, The New Republic, "Trumpism Ate Martha McSally’s Brain," 12 Oct. 2020 Canadians pride themselves on a liberal immigration system welcoming to an array of ethnicities and nationalities, contrasting their attitude with what many see as xenophobia in their neighbor to the south. Catherine Porter, New York Times, "Virus Hits Foreign Farmhands, Challenging Canadians’ Self-Image," 11 Oct. 2020 In the United States, the idea of Columbus Day was promoted by Italian immigrants trying to project a sense of belonging in the face of sometimes violent xenophobia. Stefano Pitrelli, Washington Post, "Much of America has stopped celebrating Columbus Day, but the explorer remains revered in Italy," 11 Oct. 2020

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.

See More

First Known Use of xenophobia

1877, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for xenophobia

New Latin

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about xenophobia

Time Traveler for xenophobia

Time Traveler

The first known use of xenophobia was in 1877

See more words from the same year

Listen to Our Podcast about xenophobia

Statistics for xenophobia

Last Updated

26 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Xenophobia.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/xenophobia. Accessed 2 Mar. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLA Chicago APA Merriam-Webster

Keep scrolling for more

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

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).


Test Your Vocabulary

February 2021 Words of the Day Quiz

  • squirrel in winter
  • Which is a synonym of perdure?
True or False

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

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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