to·​tal·​i·​tar·​i·​an·​ism | \ (ˌ)tō-ˌta-lə-ˈter-ē-ə-ˌni-zəm How to pronounce totalitarianism (audio) \

Definition of totalitarianism

1 : centralized control by an autocratic authority
2 : the political concept that the citizen should be totally subject to an absolute state authority

Examples of totalitarianism in a Sentence

in times of crisis, when a nation's people are frightened, there are often calls for totalitarianism
Recent Examples on the Web As leader, Putin has crushed the media and civil society, returned to totalitarianism, installed former KGB and other security officials in key positions, destroyed nongovernmental organizations, invaded Ukraine, and isolated Russia from the West. Mary Ilyushina, Washington Post, 31 Aug. 2022 The regimes in Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union had enough similarities to allow scholars to create a new category that included them: totalitarianism. Masha Gessen, The New Yorker, 13 Dec. 2021 This is one way in which Putin’s neo-totalitarianism is distinguished from that of his 20th-century predecessors: Everything is in plain view. Marci Shore, The Atlantic, 11 Mar. 2022 In China, that cannot happen because all those platforms are banned and there is no voter voice, even as the CCP relies on facial recognition, data capture, monitoring of digital bank activity, and other forms of techno-totalitarianism. Therese Shaheen, National Review, 5 Apr. 2021 Cancel culture is a form of soft totalitarianism: the persecution of one’s political opponents in the place of debate and the complete condemnation of those who make mistakes. Madeleine Kearns, National Review, 24 Apr. 2022 Hannah Arendt called widespread loneliness an underlying condition for totalitarianism. New York Times, 20 Apr. 2022 For Belarusians, the shift from gray to black, from autocracy to totalitarianism, was calculable in lives. New York Times, 30 Mar. 2022 National Review was conceived in no small part to present — indeed to insist upon — a more resolute opposition to totalitarianism. Peter J. Travers, National Review, 29 Mar. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'totalitarianism.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of totalitarianism

1926, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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The first known use of totalitarianism was in 1926

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Last Updated

29 Sep 2022

Cite this Entry

“Totalitarianism.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Oct. 2022.

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