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

Lesson 1: fearing outsiders is one of our oldest, built-in psychological tendencies There’s a reason every country with immigration has pockets of xenophobia. Brian Resnick, Vox, "8 lessons from psychology that explain Trump’s caravan fearmongering," 2 Nov. 2018 Others suggest that leaving the EU is a statement of xenophobia and an attempt to limit immigration into the UK. Rachel Janfaza, Teen Vogue, "With Brexit Looming, Young Activists Are Still Fighting to Stay in the European Union," 13 Mar. 2019 Critics say it is only being fomented by a mix of nationalist and socially conservative Kremlin ideology that at times borders on xenophobia. Dmitry Zaks, chicagotribune.com, "Racism problems taint Russian soccer ahead of World Cup," 29 Mar. 2018 In his studies, Mr. Sík has asked the same question on xenophobia since 1992: Should Hungary allow in all asylum seekers, none, or only some? Sara Miller Llana, The Christian Science Monitor, "As Hungary votes, memories of a mythical past loom large," 6 Apr. 2018 The rampant xenophobia that has already become murder in a horrifying number of circumstances? Jenny Hollander, Marie Claire, "Do I Have to Vote? Here Are Some of the Scary Things That Could Happen If You Don't," 6 Nov. 2018 In the middle of the century, patriotism, nationalism, xenophobia, and an emphasis on traditional family structures proliferated regardless of party identity. Emily Atkin, The New Republic, "Why Do Carrot Hot Dogs Make You So Mad?," 3 July 2018 The hotel staff becomes suspicious of the couple in a satire that plays on xenophobia, homophobia, and the genuine underlying fear of living in a city repeatedly targeted by terrorists. Kathleen Craughwell, latimes.com, "The Moviegoer, Dec. 7-13," 5 Jan. 2018 But what used to be easy to pass off as guilty-pleasure reality TV tension now feels like a grim reminder of the xenophobia running rampant in our country these days. Bonnie Stiernberg, Glamour, "I'm Divorcing Myself From 90 Day Fiancé," 27 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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Statistics for xenophobia

Last Updated

11 Apr 2019

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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 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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with xenophobia

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for 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).


an enemy or opponent

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