jingoism, advocacy of a policy of aggressive nationalism. The term was first used in connection with certain British politicians who sought to bring England into the Russo-Turkish War (1877-78) on the side of the Turks. It apparently derived from a popular song of the period: "We don't want to fight, but, by jingo, if we do … ."
Jingoism is defined in the Oxford English Dictionary as "extreme patriotism in the form of aggressive foreign policy". In practice, it refers to the advocation of the use of threats of or actual force against other countries in order to safeguard what they perceive as their country's national interests, and colloquially to excessive bias in judging one's own country as superior to others.

During the 19th century in the United States, journalists called this attitude spread-eagleism. This nationalistic belligerence was intensified by the sinking of the cruiser USS Maine in Havana harbour that led to the Spanish-American War of 1898. "Jingoism" did not enter the U.S. vernacular until near the turn of the 20th century.


The chorus of a song by G. H. MacDermott (singer) and G. W. Hunt (songwriter) commonly sung in pubs and music halls around the time of the Russo-Turkish War gave birth to the term. The lyrics had the chorus:

The term "jingoism" was coined by the prominent radical George Holyoake in a letter to the Daily News on 13 March, 1878. See "By Jingo" article for further details.

"Jingoism" is broadly used by pacifists, generally referring to the United States of America and its perceived aggressions against other nations.


  • Theodore Roosevelt was frequently accused of jingoism. In an October 8, 1895 New York Times interview, he responded, "There is much talk about 'jingoism'. If by 'jingoism' they mean a policy in pursuance of which Americans will with resolution and common sense insist upon our rights being respected by foreign powers, then we are 'jingoes'."
  • In the 28 March 1938 issue of Punch appeared a E. H. Shepard cartoon entitled THE OLD-FASHIONED CUSTOMER. Set in a record shop, John Bull asks the record seller (Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain): "I wonder if you've got a song I remember about not wanting to fight, but if we do . . . something, something, something . . . we've got the money too?". On the wall is a portrait of former Prime Minister Lord Salisbury.
  • In a review for the latest film in the Rambo series, author David Morrell described the character of Rambo in Rambo: First Blood Part II and Rambo III as being a "jingoistic character".
  • The band Thrice includes a lyric in the song "The Sky is Falling" which states, "I want to be strong enough to not let fear decide my fate, surrounded by Jingoists, I don't want any part of this".

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