discrimination

noun
dis·​crim·​i·​na·​tion | \ di-ˌskri-mə-ˈnā-shən How to pronounce discrimination (audio) \

Definition of discrimination

1a : prejudiced or prejudicial outlook, action, or treatment racial discrimination
b : the act, practice, or an instance of discriminating categorically rather than individually
2 : the quality or power of finely distinguishing the film viewed by those with discrimination
3a : the act of making or perceiving a difference : the act of discriminating a bloodhound's scent discrimination
b psychology : the process by which two stimuli differing in some aspect are responded to differently

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from discrimination

discriminational \ di-​ˌskri-​mə-​ˈnā-​shnəl How to pronounce discrimination (audio) , -​shə-​nᵊl \ adjective

Choose the Right Synonym for 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

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.

Examples of discrimination in a Sentence

The law prohibits discrimination in hiring. He sued the company for age discrimination. the animal's impressive scent discrimination
See More
Recent Examples on the Web Title IX mandates that there be no gender discrimination in any educational activity. Andrew Zimbalist, Forbes, "March Misogyny," 5 Apr. 2021 When coupled with machismo attitudes and widespread gang violence, discrimination can also be deadly for trans women in Mexico, which regularly ranks among the most dangerous countries in the world for transgender people. New York Times, "‘They Have No One’: At 88, a Transgender Icon Combats Loneliness Among Seniors," 2 Apr. 2021 Over the weekend, thousands of people took part in protests across the country to raise awareness about the racial discrimination that Asian Americans have experienced for decades, as organizers demanded legislative action to combat the issue. Brian Dakss, CBS News, "Man who killed his mother arrested in brutal attack on Asian woman in NYC," 31 Mar. 2021 Housing discrimination has been one of the most enduring ways of upholding the racial caste system. Zito Madu, The New Republic, "Living Through Detroit’s Perpetual Housing Crisis," 30 Mar. 2021 Simply assuming that the cause of every disparity is discrimination is not reasonable. Star Tribune, "Readers Write: Derek Chauvin trial, Duluth police force, massage therapy stigma," 29 Mar. 2021 Jaime Mitchell, a plaintiff who uses they/them pronouns, said the state's policy amounted to discrimination. Jake Dima, Washington Examiner, "New York disability agency sued for not allowing third gender option," 29 Mar. 2021 The Palmdale mother has called on the district to investigate whether the discrimination extended beyond the science teacher, said her lawyer, Neil Gehlawat. James Rainey, Los Angeles Times, "Seeking help with her 12-year-old’s video schooling, a mother says she endured teacher’s racist rant," 28 Mar. 2021 Gettleman said, according to the Justice Department, Trinity wants to open another home in Hinsdale and would likely be subject to the same alleged discrimination. Kimberly Fornek, chicagotribune.com, "Federal judge denies Hinsdale motion to dismiss lawsuits related to Trinity Sober Living; village updates zoning ordinances," 26 Mar. 2021

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

See More

First Known Use of discrimination

1621, in the meaning defined at sense 3a

History and Etymology for discrimination

see discriminate

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about discrimination

Time Traveler for discrimination

Time Traveler

The first known use of discrimination was in 1621

See more words from the same year

Statistics for discrimination

Last Updated

11 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Discrimination.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/discrimination. Accessed 14 Apr. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for discrimination

discrimination

noun

English Language Learners 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

discrimination

noun
dis·​crim·​i·​na·​tion | \ di-ˌskri-mə-ˈnā-shən How to pronounce discrimination (audio) \

Kids Definition of discrimination

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

discrimination

noun
dis·​crim·​i·​na·​tion | \ dis-ˌkrim-ə-ˈnā-shən How to pronounce discrimination (audio) \

Medical Definition of discrimination

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

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on discrimination

What made you want to look up discrimination? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

The Exceptions Quiz III

  • one green toy robot amidst many red toy robots
  • Which of these words does not mean "nonsense"?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
 AlphaBear 2

Spell words. Make bears.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!