Decolonization is often defined as the retreat of European colonialism. Coined in an academic encyclopedia in the early 1930s, the term gained traction among politicians and intellectuals after World War II as it became synonymous with the end of European colonial rule. In a strict sense, the phrase refers to the process where an imperial power, having conquered and imposed its will upon a territory, transfers control of that land to a legally sovereign national state.
Irwin, Ryan, "Decolonization" (2015). History Faculty Scholarship. 18.