This is a word to avoid in academic writing, unless you are an historian. It is a word with a precise meaning, often loosely used.
- Its precise usage is to denote a member of the political party in Italy which controlled that country from 1922 to 1943, under the leadership of Benito Mussolini. The fascists (fascisti, pronounced fash-EEST-ee, IPA: /fæ ˈʃiː stiː/), of Italy, were allies of the Nazis, in Germany, during the Second World War.
- In the first half of the twentieth century, it was used as a general term grouping those right-wing political parties that were broadly in step with the Italian fascists, such as Hitler's National Socialists (Nazis) in Germany; Franco's Falange, in Spain, which both governed their countries - as did the Italian fascisti; and many others, including Mosley's 'British Union of Fascists', or Blackshirts, who tried to terrorize Jews, Communists and others during the 1930s.
- The word fascist is now often loosely used in everyday colloquial speech as a term of abuse for people whose views are more right-wing than those of the speaker. It is, therefore, a term of abuse more commonly used by left-wing speakers. Be careful not to use fascist this way in academic writing.
As it was originally an Italian word, the '-sc-' is pronounced in the Italian way, like '-sh-' - 'FASH-ist' (IPA: /fæ ˈʃɪst/): the '-c-' is silent.