xe·​no·​pho·​bia ˌze-nə-ˈfō-bē-ə How to pronounce xenophobia (audio) ˌzē- How to pronounce xenophobia (audio)
: fear and hatred of strangers or foreigners or of anything that is strange or foreign

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. Xenophobia itself came to us by way of New Latin and first appeared in print in English in the late 19th century.

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web Amidst images of verdant landscapes, frontline battlefields and canning factories, each episode touches on themes of xenophobia, social inequality and the suppression of freedom, among other issues. Anna Marie De La Fuente, Variety, 28 Sep. 2022 Still, even though Sikhs had been targets of xenophobia and discrimination since their arrival in the US, the FBI at the time didn't track hate crimes against Sikhs. Harmeet Kaur, CNN, 5 Aug. 2022 The book is a survey, and an indictment, of Scandinavian society: Alma struggles with the distance between her pluralistic, liberal, environmentally conscious ideals and her actual xenophobia in a country grown rich from oil extraction. The Atlantic Culture Desk, The Atlantic, 30 Sep. 2022 This latest episode tells me that the lessons about xenophobia that the Covid-19 pandemic offered have not been learned here and that leaving Shanghai is the right decision for my family and me. Matthew Bossons, CNN, 28 Sep. 2022 Are All Refugees platform, said Ozdag was not solely to blame for the soaring xenophobia. Kareem Fahim, Washington Post, 21 Aug. 2022 But others slammed Wu's post as discriminatory and harmful, with several drawing parallels to the wave of xenophobia and violence Asians overseas faced at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. Jessie Yeung And Cnn's Beijing Bureau, CNN, 18 Sep. 2022 Democrats, meanwhile, have come to equate any border enforcement with xenophobia. Jason L. Riley, WSJ, 16 Aug. 2022 Assed, who was born in Dearborn, Michigan, said that even with increasing xenophobia after the Sept. 11 attacks, the city seemed to continue to treat the Muslim community with respect, regardless of faith and nationalities. Simon Romero, BostonGlobe.com, 9 Aug. 2022 See More

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.

Word History


New Latin

First Known Use

1877, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of xenophobia was in 1877


Dictionary Entries Near xenophobia

Cite this Entry

“Xenophobia.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/xenophobia. Accessed 1 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition



xe·​no·​pho·​bia ˌzen-ə-ˈfō-bē-ə How to pronounce xenophobia (audio)
: fear of foreigners or foreign things

Medical Definition



xe·​no·​pho·​bia ˌzen-ə-ˈfō-bē-ə How to pronounce xenophobia (audio) ˌzēn- How to pronounce xenophobia (audio)
: fear and hatred of strangers or foreigners or of anything that is strange or foreign

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