[toh-tal-i-tair-ee-uh-niz-uh m]
See more synonyms for totalitarianism on
  1. the practices and principles of a totalitarian regime.
  2. absolute control by the state or a governing branch of a highly centralized institution.
  3. the character or quality of an autocratic or authoritarian individual, group, or government: the totalitarianism of the father.

Origin of totalitarianism

First recorded in 1920–25; totalitarian + -ism
Related formsto·tal·i·tar·i·an·ist, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for totalitarianism

tyranny, authoritarianism, despotism, autocracy, dictatorship

Examples from the Web for totalitarianism

Contemporary Examples of totalitarianism

Word Origin and History for totalitarianism

1926, first recorded in reference to Italian fascism, from totalitarian + -ism.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

totalitarianism in Culture



Domination by a government of all political, social, and economic activities in a nation. Totalitarianism is a phenomenon of the twentieth century: earlier forms of despotism and autocracy lacked the technical capacity to control every aspect of life. The term is applied both to fascist governments (see fascism) and to many forms of communism.

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.