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Balkanize

[bawl-kuh-nahyz]
verb (used with object), Bal·kan·ized, Bal·kan·iz·ing.
  1. to divide (a country, territory, etc.) into small, quarrelsome, ineffectual states.
  2. (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
Related formsBal·kan·i·za·tion, nounBal·kan·ism, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

British Dictionary definitions for balkanize

Balkanize

Balkanise

verb
  1. (tr) to divide (a territory) into small warring states
  2. to divide (a group or organization) into small factions
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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 balkanize

Balkanize

v.

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.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper