verb, often capitalized
bal·​kan·​ize | \ ˈbȯl-kə-ˌnīz How to pronounce balkanize (audio) \
balkanized; balkanizing

Definition of balkanize

transitive verb

1 : to break up (a region, a group, etc.) into smaller and often hostile units opposes the partition of Germany, and holds that the economic consequences of Balkanizing the country would be seriousTimes Literary Supplement
2 : divide, compartmentalize now pop culture has been balkanized; it is full of niches, with different groups watching and playing their own things— Richard Corliss

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Other Words from balkanize

balkanization \ ˌbȯl-​kə-​nə-​ˈzā-​shən How to pronounce balkanize (audio) \ noun, often capitalized

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The Balkan Peninsula of southeastern Europe is named for the Balkan Mountains, which stretch through Bulgaria from its western border with Serbia to the Black Sea. (Balkan derives from a Turkish word that means "mountain.") The region known as the Balkans is commonly thought to include Albania, Greece, Romania, the European portion of Turkey, and often surrounding areas. The decline of the Ottoman Empire in the 18th century led to a series of revolts that accelerated the fracturing of the region into a number of smaller states whose unstable coexistence led to violence that came to a head in World War I. Since 1919, balkanize and its related noun, balkanization have come to refer to the kind of divisive action that can weaken countries or groups, as well as other things.

Examples of balkanize in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web But splitting the digital world in half would balkanize the technical standards that companies and governments use to collaborate across borders, thereby restricting their ability to innovate. Andy Purdy, Fortune, 9 May 2021 Implementing such a scheme could balkanize the web, destroying its open essence and dramatically raising the cost of doing business. Steven Levy, Wired, 25 Sep. 2020 Publications that used to be easily available are hidden behind paywalls, data balkanized, and the materials underlying research held tightly. E. Richard Gold, Fortune, 26 Mar. 2020 That period, before the adoption of our Constitution, left the country balkanized by predatory and punitive state measures directed against other states. Jonathan Turley, Twin Cities, 25 Oct. 2019 The news comes on the heels of an Oct. 1 court win (perhaps a Pyrrhic one) for opponents of net neutrality that upheld the FCC’s repeal but handed states the authority to impose stricter standards—threatening to balkanize US regulations. Michael J. Coren, Quartz, 3 Oct. 2019 Although our national reliance on shrill identity politics and our loud public shaming of dissenters has had the effect of balkanizing us at an ever-increasing and dangerous rate. John Kass,, 17 July 2019 And even the objection to the Yamamoto name seems sadly characteristic of America’s balkanized culture. Jason Willick, WSJ, 29 Dec. 2018 Now a country in the process of expanding its first-person plural becomes more inclusive and, at the same time, more balkanized. Lance Morrow, WSJ, 17 Aug. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'balkanize.' 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 balkanize

1918, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for balkanize

Balkan Peninsula

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The first known use of balkanize was in 1918

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Cite this Entry

“Balkanize.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Sep. 2021.

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