[ 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.
Also especially British, Bal·kan·ise.

Origin of Balkanize

First recorded in 1915–20; Balkan + -ize
Related formsBal·kan·i·za·tion, nounBal·kan·ism, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples 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 FormsBalkanization 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

Word Origin and History for balkanization



1920, first used in reference to the Baltic states, on the model of what had happened in the Balkans; said to have been coined by English editor James Louis Garvin (1868-1947), but A.J. Toynbee (1922) credited it to "German Socialists" describing the results of the treaty of Brest-Litovsk. Either way, the reference is to the political situation in the Balkans c.1878-1913, when the European section of the Ottoman Empire split up into small, warring nations. Balkanized and Balkanization both also are from 1920.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Culture 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.