[ bawl-kuh-nahyz ]
/ ˈbɔl kəˌnaɪz /

verb (used with object), Bal·kan·ized, Bal·kan·iz·ing.

to divide (a country, territory, etc.) into small, quarrelsome, ineffectual states.
(often lowercase) to divide (groups, areas, etc.) into contending and usually ineffectual factions: a movement to balkanize minority voters.


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Also especially British, Bal·kan·ise.

Origin of Balkanize

First recorded in 1915–20; Balkan + -ize


Bal·kan·i·za·tion, nounBal·kan·ism, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020

Example sentences from the Web for balkanization

British Dictionary definitions for balkanization



/ (ˈbɔːlkəˌnaɪz) /


(tr) to divide (a territory) into small warring states
to divide (a group or organization) into small factions

Derived forms of Balkanize

Balkanization or Balkanisation, nounBalkanized or Balkanised, adjective
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Cultural definitions for balkanization

[ (bawl-kuh-nuh-zay-shuhn) ]

Division of a place or country into several small political units, often unfriendly to one another. The term balkanization comes from the name of the Balkan Peninsula, which was divided into several small nations in the early twentieth century.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.