[ kuh-loh-nee-uh-liz-uhm ]
/ kəˈloʊ ni əˌlɪz əm /
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the control or governing influence of a nation over a dependent country, territory, or people.
the system or policy by which a nation maintains or advocates such control or influence.
the state or condition of being colonial.
an idea, custom, or practice peculiar to a colony.
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Question 1 of 7
The rainy weather could not ________ my elated spirits on my graduation day.
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Origin of colonialism

First recorded in 1850–55; colonial + -ism

OTHER WORDS FROM colonialism

co·lo·ni·al·ist, noun, adjectiveco·lo·ni·al·is·tic, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022

How to use colonialism in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for colonialism

/ (kəˈləʊnɪəˌlɪzəm) /

the policy and practice of a power in extending control over weaker peoples or areasAlso called: imperialism

Derived forms of colonialism

colonialist, noun, 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 colonialism


The control of one nation by “transplanted” people of another nation — often a geographically distant nation that has a different culture and dominant racial or ethnic group. (See ethnicity.)

notes for colonialism

A classic example of colonialism is the control of India by Britain from the eighteenth century to 1947.

notes for colonialism

Control that is economic and cultural, rather than political, is often called neocolonialism.
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.