Difference between Patriotism and Nationalism

Key difference: Patriotism refers to the quality of being patriotic, i.e. to feel proud of one’s country and what it does and has achieved. In nationalism, not only do people love their country, but they actually put their country before themselves and others.

PatriotismPatriotism and Nationalism are drilled into a person since childhood. One is often thought that one has to feel patriotic or nationalism. There are even types when people feel that they have to overcompensate to prove their patriotism or nationalism to others. In addition to this, there are times when there is a surge in patriotism and nationalism, which tends to happen during times of turmoil or war. However, what most people don’t realize is that there is a difference between Patriotism and Nationalism.

Patriotism refers to the quality of being patriotic, i.e. to feel proud of one’s country and what it does and has achieved. Being patriotic also means to show tremendous support for the country. While patriotism is often associated with one’s capability of feeling pride for one’s country, it is also associated with feeling proud of their ethnic, cultural, political or historical aspects.

Nationalism, on the other hand, is something similar. It is also refers to feeling pride for one’s country as well as its ethnic, cultural, political or historical aspects. However nationalism takes is one step further; rather than just feeling proud, nationalists tend to associate their identity with their country. It can be said that nationalism is a type of an extreme form of patriotism.

In nationalism, not only do people love their country, but they actually put their country before themselves and others. Nationalism promotes the ideology of developing and maintaining a national identity which is based on shared characteristics such as culture, language, race, religion, political goals or a belief in a common ancestry.

While patriotism supports and feels proud in their country or culture, nationalism often tends to elevate one’s own culture or nation above others, feeling that their own culture and nation is better or superior to others.

NationalismIt can be said that a patriot will still be able to criticize their country, even while they are also proud of it, but for a nationalist the country will be able to do no wrong. However, it should be noted that in its purest form, nationalism is not negative. The policy of nationalism primarily believes that every group of people who shares something in common, such as a cultural or ethnic identity should have a nation of their own, which is free from outside control.

However, nationalism has come to be used to unite people of a similar background by uniting them against other groups. Nationalism is often used to shut down any discussion or debate that might disagree with anything the country or nation does. Disagreeing with anything the nation does, or criticizing it is often met with anger, ridicule, taunts of being unpatriotic or even violence. Anyone who does disagree or criticizes, or is different from the majority of the people who make up the nation, is often seen as the enemy. Hence, over the years nationalism has gotten a very bad rapport.

Comparison between Patriotism and Nationalism:




Definition (Oxford Dictionaries)

The quality of being patriotic; vigorous support for one's country.

Patriotic feeling, principles, or efforts.

An extreme form of patriotism marked by a feeling of superiority over other countries.


To feel proud of their country

To feel like their country can do no wrong


Love for the nation

Country is superior to others


To support their country

To put down other countries








involves personal opinions and social conditioning

involves “national identity”


Can tolerate criticism and might try to learn from it

Cannot tolerate any criticism and considers it an insult to the nation


Will engage in debate or discussion, to learn and grow

Cannot tolerate any debate or discussion and considers it an insult to the nation

Relationships with other nations

Try to foster friendly relations with other nations as it will help the country grow

Hates or looks down up other nations, hence cannot make good relations


Is typically not aggressive

May get aggressive

Reference: Oxford Dictionaries (Patriotism and Nationalism),
Wikipedia (Patriotism and Nationalism),
Simple Wikipedia (Patriotism and Nationalism), Logical Indian, Huffington Post
Image Courtesy: wisegeek.com, redbubble.net

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Nationalism doesn't mean we do not take any implement for development, but we grow without harming national ethical values and culture.

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