affirmative action


Definition of affirmative action 

: an active effort to improve the employment or educational opportunities of members of minority groups and women sought to achieve a multicultural staff through affirmative action also : a similar effort to promote the rights or progress of other disadvantaged persons

Examples of affirmative action in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Monday’s filing, one of a number submitted on behalf of Harvard, illustrates the high stakes of any court judgment on race-conscious affirmative action. Melissa Korn, WSJ, "Top U.S. Universities Back Harvard in Affirmative-Action Case," 30 July 2018 The Trump administration contends that the Obama-era guidelines go far beyond what the Supreme Court has decided on in regard to affirmative action. Andrew O'reilly, Fox News, "Trump administration is breaking from Obama-era affirmative action policies," 2 Oct. 2018 Fair housing and affirmative action are on the line., "Black Women Come Out In Droves To Protest Supreme Court Nominee Brett Kavanaugh," 12 July 2018 Edward Blum’s latest attempt to end affirmative action goes to trial this week. Yuvraj Joshi, Teen Vogue, "Why the Affirmative Action Case Against Harvard Isn’t Actually About Fair Treatment for Minority Students," 16 Oct. 2018 As a result, he is poised to weaken environmental regulations, limit affirmative action, and, yes, possibly overturn Roe v. Wade. Michelle Ruiz, Vogue, "Most Americans Support Roe v. Wade—So Why Won’t Washington Listen to Them?," 12 Sep. 2018 Gee has long fought for the downtrodden, having advocated for labor unions and affirmative action in her time as a lawyer. Kayla Webley Adler, Marie Claire, "Judge Dolly Gee Is Fighting on Behalf of Detained Children," 16 Aug. 2018 And attorney general Sessions has made his distaste for affirmative action manifest, vowing to bring lawsuits against any universities that adopt admissions policies that unduly advantage African-American applicants. Eric Levitz, Daily Intelligencer, "Trump Administration Calls on Colleges to End Affirmative Action," 3 July 2018 The new affirmative action guidance may add to an already contentious fight over the next justice. Eric Tucker, The Seattle Times, "US to stop encouraging race as factor in school admissions," 3 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'affirmative action.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of affirmative action

1961, in the meaning defined above

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Last Updated

7 Jan 2019

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The first known use of affirmative action was in 1961

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More Definitions for affirmative action

affirmative action


English Language Learners Definition of affirmative action

: the practice of improving the educational and job opportunities of members of groups that have not been treated fairly in the past because of their race, sex, etc.

affirmative action


Legal Definition of affirmative action 

: an active effort (as through legislation) to improve the employment or educational opportunities of members of minority groups or women

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