Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Community Comment

A Word A Day — xenophobia

Good afternoon Netizens,,,

April 20, 2013

Word of the Day

  • xenophobia
  • audio pronunciation
  • \zen-uh-FOH-bee-uh\


: fear and hatred of strangers or foreigners or of anything that is strange or foreign

"A Labour MP has been accused of xenophobia after complaining about the Polish staff who served him a disappointing bacon sandwich." — From an article in The Telegraph (London), April 25, 2012

"A few counterexamples raise doubts: the downturn in immigration during World War I due to the interruption of transatlantic ship traffic and the mobilization of many young Europeans for the war did not lead to a decline in stereotypes and prejudice; in fact, the wartime period and the few years afterward produced some of the worst xenophobia the United States has ever seen." — From Richard Alba's 2012 book Blurring the Color Line


If you look back to the ancient Greek terms that underlie the word "xenophobia," you'll discover that xenophobic individuals are literally "stranger fearing." "Xenophobia," that elegant-sounding name for an aversion to persons unfamiliar, ultimately derives from two Greek terms: "xenos," which can be translated as either "stranger" or "guest," and "phobos," which means either "fear" or "flight." "Phobos" is the ultimate source of all English "-phobia" terms, but many of those were actually coined in English or New Latin using the combining form "-phobia" (which traces back to "phobos"). "Xenophobia" itself came to us by way of New Latin and first appeared in print in English in 1903.

From Merriam-Webster Online at



Spokesman-Review readers blog about news and issues in Spokane written by Dave Laird.