Merriam-Webster dictionary shows slightly different definitions of both the terms. However, Urban-dictionary shows the definition of Anti-nationalist similar to anti-national in Merriam-Webster dictionary. Also, different sites show different meanings.

Can anyone explain the difference between both the terms to a non-native English speaker?

Edit 1: Oxford dictionary has only the meaning of Anti-national. So, is it possible that Anti-national is preferred term in British English?

Edit 2: Check this link to see how Anti-national is used in Indian English media: https://m.economictimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/view-will-the-real-anti-national-damaging-bharat-please-stand-up/amp_articleshow/61515366.cms

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    It would be helpful if you would edit your question and provide links to your sources. Aug 1, 2017 at 14:39
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    I'd think of an anti-national as one thinking or acting against the state, while an anti-nationalist would be one who believes in and/or professes anti-national sentiment.
    – Kris
    Aug 1, 2017 at 14:40
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    Urban dictionary isn't really the most reputable of sources.
    – Flater
    Aug 1, 2017 at 15:10
  • @kris To me an anti-nationalist doesn't usually have sentiments or beliefs which are in opposition to a given state but is opposed to nationalism which is the extreme, often near or neo fascist, version of patriotism.
    – BoldBen
    Mar 10, 2018 at 22:08
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    @Kris Not really, anti-nationalists by my definition would not be unpatriotic or working against the state, they would only be opposed to organisations which take an extreme nationalist viewpoint. Of course there are those who recognise only the extreme nationalist point of view as being patriotic and see patriotic anti-nationalists as being anti-national, which they are not.
    – BoldBen
    Mar 14, 2018 at 16:54

1 Answer 1


That's much more easily seen in the positive forms, national and nationalist.

For instance, national sentiment is the sentiment shared by the majority of the nation and nationalist sentiment is sentiment aspiring to nationhood, however few people share it.

One contemporary example is Brexit, by which the national sentiment supports nationalist moves, even if only by a slight majority.

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    I don't think that's what the Q is about, though.
    – Kris
    Aug 3, 2017 at 12:03
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    @RobbieGoodwin In Indian English media, "Anti-national" is often used for people who are pro-separatists or/and oppose the integrity of India. This Indian media's definition is a little different from what I concluded from your answer. I guess, we can say that the definitions of both of these words are not yet fixed, and are region-dependent. Maybe because of the unpopularity of Anti-national/Anti-nationalist sentiments, the meanings of these words haven't attained saturation. Aug 3, 2017 at 20:33
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    Well, for few people (like communists, separatists, and internationalists) its difference is really important because these labels are a part of their identity, which defines their ideology. ... And, your answer makes me interpret that being called an Anti-national is more generous than being called an Anti-nationalist. However, @Kris comment on my question makes me interpret the opposite. Are you both from different countries or cultures? Aug 4, 2017 at 0:27
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    Nah, anti-national isn't capitalized. Use of 'anti-national' for both internationalists & separatists is wrong, but that's how it is used here, maybe because both ideologies oppose the existence of India as a sovereign state... And, I didn't understood your last line. Aug 7, 2017 at 12:31
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    I think the word "nationalist" varies too much between countries/cultures to make this easy to answer. To some, it seems, nationalist means "Someone who wants a unified nation" and to others it means "Someone who wants their country to be independent", two meanings which are almost opposite to one another. Furthermore, in many countries, "nationalism" has become entangled with xenophobia and/or racism, further complicating the issue. Nov 6, 2017 at 13:59

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