[ nash-uh-nl-iz-uhm, nash-nuh-liz- ]
See synonyms for nationalism on
  1. spirit or aspirations common to the whole of a nation: He describes how the intense and unconquerable nationalism of India’s hundreds of millions contributed to the decline of the British empire.

  2. devotion and loyalty to one's own country; patriotism: The promotion of a healthy nationalism is part of the responsibility of the leaders of a newly independent, diverse nation.

  1. excessive patriotism; chauvinism: This kind of nationalism, intolerance, or imperialism seems to occur even in the best democracies.

  2. the desire for national advancement or political independence: A surge in Quebec nationalism led to the formation of the Parti Québécois, which was committed to a political route to Quebec independence.

  3. the policy or doctrine of asserting the interests of one's own nation viewed as separate from the interests of other nations or of the international community: There’s a struggle between integration and global values on the one hand, and uncompromising nationalism on the other.: See also economic nationalism.

  4. an idiom or trait peculiar to a nation.

  5. a movement, as in the arts, based upon the folk idioms, history, aspirations, etc., of a nation.

Origin of nationalism

First recorded in 1830–40; national + -ism

Other words from nationalism

  • an·ti·na·tion·al·ism, noun
  • non·na·tion·al·ism, noun
  • pro·na·tion·al·ism, noun
  • sem·i·na·tion·al·ism, noun

Words Nearby nationalism Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use nationalism in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for nationalism


/ (ˈnæʃənəˌlɪzəm, ˈnæʃnə-) /

  1. a sentiment based on common cultural characteristics that binds a population and often produces a policy of national independence or separatism

  2. loyalty or devotion to one's country; patriotism

  1. exaggerated, passionate, or fanatical devotion to a national community: See also chauvinism

Derived forms of nationalism

  • nationalist, noun, adjective
  • nationalistic, 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 nationalism


The strong belief that the interests of a particular nation-state are of primary importance. Also, the belief that a people who share a common language, history, and culture should constitute an independent nation, free of foreign domination.

Notes for nationalism

Nationalism is opposed to colonialism and imperialism.

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.