Jingoism is nationalism in the form of aggressive foreign policy. Jingoism also refers to a country's advocacy for the use of threats or actual force, as opposed to peaceful relations, in efforts to safeguard what it perceives as its national interests. Colloquially, it refers to excessive bias in judging one's own country as superior to others—an extreme type of nationalism.
The term originated in the United Kingdom, expressing a pugnacious attitude toward Russia in the 1870s, and appeared in the American press by 1893.
The chorus of a song by G. H. MacDermott (singer) and G. W. Hunt (songwriter) commonly sung in British pubs and music halls around the time of the Russo-Turkish War (1877–78) gave birth to the term. The lyrics had the chorus:
The phrase "by Jingo" was a long-established minced oath, used to avoid saying "by Jesus". Referring to the song, the specific term "jingoism" was coined as a political label by the prominent British radical George Holyoake in a letter to the Daily News on 13 March 1878.
Probably the first uses of the term in the U.S. press occurred in connection with the proposed annexation of Hawaii in 1893, after a coup led by foreign residents, mostly Americans, and assisted by the U.S. Minister in Hawaii, overthrew the Hawaiian constitutional monarchy and declared a Republic. Republican president Benjamin Harrison and Republicans in the Senate were frequently accused of jingoism in the Democratic press for supporting annexation.
British artillery major-general Thomas Bland Strange, one of the founders of the Canadian army and one of the divisional commanders during the 1885 North-West Rebellion, was an eccentric and aggressive soldier who gained the nickname "Jingo Strange" and titled his 1893 autobiography Gunner Jingo's Jubilee.
The term was also used in connection with the foreign policy of Theodore Roosevelt, who was frequently accused of jingoism. In a 23 October 1895 New York Times article, Roosevelt stated, "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'."
The policy of appeasement towards Hitler led to satirical references to the loss of jingoistic attitudes in Britain. An E. H. Shepard cartoon titled The Old-Fashioned Customer appeared in the 28 March 1938 issue of Punch. 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 the Victorian Prime Minister Lord Salisbury.