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noun dis·crim·i·na·tion \dis-ˌkri-mə-ˈnā-shən\

Simple Definition of discrimination

  • : the practice of unfairly treating a person or group of people differently from other people or groups of people

  • : the ability to recognize the difference between things that are of good quality and those that are not

  • : the ability to understand that one thing is different from another thing

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of discrimination

  1. 1 a :  the act of discriminating b :  the process by which two stimuli differing in some aspect are responded to differently

  2. 2 :  the quality or power of finely distinguishing

  3. 3 a :  the act, practice, or an instance of discriminating categorically rather than individually b :  prejudiced or prejudicial outlook, action, or treatment <racial discrimination>


play \-shnəl, -shə-nəl\ adjective

Examples of discrimination in a sentence

  1. The law prohibits discrimination in hiring.

  2. He sued the company for age discrimination.

  3. the animal's impressive scent discrimination

Discriminating Among Meanings of discrimination

Discrimination has senses with neutral, positive, and negative connotations. On the one hand, it can refer to "the act (or power) of distinguishing" or to "good taste, refinement." These meanings, sometimes reinforced with modifiers (as in a fine or a nice discrimination), stress an ability to perceive differences as an index of unusual intelligence. On the other hand, when the perception of difference is marked by invidious distinction or hostility, the word (often followed by against) takes on very negative overtones, as in the senses "act of discriminating categorically rather than individually" (discrimination against women, age discrimination) and "a prejudiced outlook or course of action" (racial discrimination). The original, neutral sense of discrimination, "the act of distinguishing," came into English by the early 17th century, followed by the positive one associated with superior discernment in the 18th century. Discrimination in the "prejudice" sense has been in use since the early 19th century, almost 200 years ago.


First Known Use of discrimination


Synonym Discussion of discrimination

discernment, discrimination, perception, penetration, insight, acumen mean a power to see what is not evident to the average mind. discernment stresses accuracy (as in reading character or motives or appreciating art) <the discernment to know true friends>. discrimination stresses the power to distinguish and select what is true or appropriate or excellent <the discrimination that develops through listening to a lot of great music>. perception implies quick and often sympathetic discernment (as of shades of feeling) <a novelist of keen perception into human motives>. penetration implies a searching mind that goes beyond what is obvious or superficial <lacks the penetration to see the scorn beneath their friendly smiles>. insight suggests depth of discernment coupled with understanding sympathy <a documentary providing insight into the plight of the homeless>. acumen implies characteristic penetration combined with keen practical judgment <a director of reliable box-office acumen>.



noun dis·crim·i·na·tion \di-ˌskri-mə-ˈnā-shən\

Definition of discrimination for Students

  1. 1 :  the practice of unfairly treating a person or group differently from other people or groups of people <The law prohibits discrimination against the disabled.>

  2. 2 :  the ability to see differences <Police use a dog's discrimination of smells.>

Medical Dictionary


noun dis·crim·i·na·tion \dis-ˌkrim-ə-ˈnā-shən\

Medical Definition of discrimination

  1. :  the process by which two stimuli differing in some aspect are responded to differently :  differentiation

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