Xenophobia Meaning: Here’s What It Means and How To Use It

Xenophobia is one of the most problematic mindsets in the world today — here’s the meaning of xenophobia and how to avoid it at all costs!

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In countries like the United States of America, people of all different backgrounds come from countless other nations to live and coexist. 

However, due to old and outdated mindsets and philosophies, some groups have a fear of foreigners. This has been a problem for thousands of years and is still something many people are trying to learn how to combat. This problematic outlook is called xenophobia

Here is everything you need to know about xenophobia, where the word comes from, and what it looks like in the modern world. 

What is Xenophobia? 

Xenophobia (xeno-pho-bi-a) is a prejudice against or hatred of strangers or ethnic groups from different countries. It is the foundational mindset behind many crimes and attitudes of ethnocentrism. This fear of strangers can range from minor and subtle discomforts to substantial and prominent offensive actions. 

Xenophobia has been exhibited a lot throughout history. The world growing more interconnected has made xenophobic attitudes and other bigotry much more apparent. 

If you were to look in a thesaurus for word lists of synonyms for the word xenophobia, you would likely find words including: 

  • Racism
  • Ethnocentrism
  • Nationalism
  • Prejudice
  • Isolationism
  • Bigotry
  • Non-Inclusiveness
  • Racialism

Where Does the Word Xenophobia Come From? 

Understanding the etymology of xenophobia can significantly enhance your understanding of the word. 

Like many words in the English language, the word initially stems from the Ancient Greek language. It is a compound word containing two other Ancient Greek words. The first word is ξένος (xénos), which essentially translates to the words foreign, alien, or strange. The second word is φόβος (phóbos), which effectively means fear or discomfort. When the words are added together, it translates to “the fear of something foreign or alien.” 

This works effectively when translating what the word means. When you look at the origins of a word’s definition, it can be beneficial to look at its roots in the language itself. 

As time has gone on, this word has remained relatively consistent, primarily because -phobia is a suffix to the word. Many other words in the English language bear that same meaning and suffix, which allows the terms to generally be very consistent over time. 

What Does Xenophobia Look Like in the Real World? 

Sadly, there are many places where xenophobia has been found in the modern world. Here are some examples of xenophobia that have been more apparent over several decades. 

In World War II, there was a lot of xenophobia towards Asian Americans. Many innocent people were sent into isolation camps for the duration of the war merely because of their ethnicity. This is a prime example of xenophobia in action. 

Another place that xenophobia toward Asian Americans has been seen in modern times is during the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the virus’s origin was primarily believed to be in China, many xenophobic people started harassing Asian-Americans. 

One more place where xenophobia is widespread is in the concept of Islamophobia. Many people tend to be afraid of people that practice Islam, even though the vast majority of these people are safe, kind, and moral people. However, xenophobic people tend to shun and disrespect these people and loudly express negative feelings close to them. 

Xenophobia is best avoided because its roots are deeply intertwined in racism and nationalism. The further you can get from that and the closer you can be to inclusiveness, the better!


Understanding words in the modern world is something that can often be difficult. Even if a word is thousands of years old, new meanings and contexts are constantly appearing and showing up due to the age of the internet and increased communication. 

If any words are giving you a hard time, please check out our blog here at The Word Counter for any information you need! We’re always putting up new blog posts to provide relevant and valuable information that can help you to honestly speak with power in the modern world. 

Our belief here is that one of the best ways to advance globally is by having strong communication skills. If you lack in those or just want to grow what you have, we’re here to help you with that; whether it’s pesky grammar rules, strange words, or confusing phrases, we can help! If you want to see our latest posts on modern language, please check out our blog on our website right here


  1. Xenophobia Definition & Meaning | Dictionary.com
  2. Xenophobia – Definition, Meaning & Synonyms | Vocabulary.com
  3. Xenophobia definition and meaning | Collins English Dictionary