ethnic

adjective
eth·​nic | \ ˈeth-nik How to pronounce ethnic (audio) \

Definition of ethnic

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : of or relating to large groups of people classed according to common racial, national, tribal, religious, linguistic, or cultural origin or background ethnic minorities ethnic enclaves
b : being a member of a specified ethnic group an ethnic German
c : of, relating to, or characteristic of a minority ethnic group ethnic neighborhoods ethnic foods
2 : of or relating to the Gentiles or to nations not converted to Christianity : heathen, pagan … ancient ethnic revels of a faith long since forsaken …— Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

ethnic

noun

Definition of ethnic (Entry 2 of 2)

chiefly US
: a member of an ethnic group especially : a member of a minority group who retains the customs, language, or social views of the group

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms & Antonyms for ethnic

Synonyms: Adjective

ethnical, racial, tribal

Antonyms: Adjective

nonracial

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of ethnic in a Sentence

Adjective

The U.S. has a wide variety of ethnic groups made up of immigrants or their descendants. children who were raised in a home where there was a strong ethnic consciousness

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Sachar’s second volume of ‘‘A History of Israel,’’ published in 1987, covered the years following the 1973 Arab-Israeli war and examined the rising ethnic, religious, and ideological tensions of modern Israel. Ellie Silverman, BostonGlobe.com, "Howard Sachar, 90, GWU scholar and ‘trailblazer’ of Jewish history," 19 May 2018 Middle Eastern peace is an issue so bogged down by history and by the huge scope of its major players—nations, religions, ethnic groups—that individual voices are often hard to hear, though they are most affected by punditry and policy. Vogue, "The Viral Taylor Swift Stan Story That Made Me Love the Internet Again," 5 Apr. 2019 From Opening Ceremony to Versace to Vivienne Westwood, brands around the world have become a more welcoming place for models of all ethnic backgrounds, sizes, and gender identifications—but there is still plenty of improvement to be made. Steff Yotka, Vogue, "11 Reasons to Be Excited About The Year in Fashion," 4 Jan. 2019 More than 100,000 mostly ethnic Karen refugees from Burma - many Christians among them - are crammed into nine camps set out in isolated, misty hills of jungle terrian inside the border of Thailand. Hollie Mckay, Fox News, "Burma's Karen refugees face dwindling aid, struggle with depression and suicides," 15 Aug. 2018 Coffman said that people who have issues related to gender and sexuality may feel more comfortable talking with someone who has the same gender or ethnic background as them. Hannah Holzer, sacbee, "California needs more mental health professionals – and the shortage will get worse, experts say," 11 July 2018 Here's a snippet of the latest episode: Grant Wahl: So many contributors from so many ethnic backgrounds, is the best way to put it. SI.com, "World Cup Daily Podcast: Exploring the Multicultural English, French and Belgian Rosters," 8 July 2018 Following criticism about the lack of writers of color at last year’s event, the festival plans to increase the number of speakers from various ethnic backgrounds. Danielle Hernandez, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Danielle's Report: U-T to host second annual San Diego Festival of Books," 5 July 2018 In this engaging comedy-drama, an Anglo couple with three children adopt three kids from different ethnic backgrounds — hey, that was a very with-it plotline for the mid-‘70s. Randy Cordova, azcentral, "These movies were filmed in Phoenix and you'll recognize the locations," 30 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Then with Lacroix from 1987 until 2009 shows were like stage productions for me, with all inspiration coming from history and art, or folk and ethnics. Laird Borrelli-persson, Vogue, "Talking With @fkachristianlacroix, aka the Real Christian Lacroix, About Instagram and the 1980s," 13 Mar. 2019 The mayor enjoyed support from the city’s working-class white ethnics—Irish, Italians, Poles and others—who had long been a pillar of the Democrats’ winning coalition but were abandoning the party in the 1960s over a raft of social issues. David Greenberg, WSJ, "A Half Century of ‘Liberal Media Bias’," 23 Aug. 2018 In the late 1960s, the mayor was wooing white ethnics. Sam Roberts, New York Times, "Mary Sansone, a Grass-Roots Political Godmother, Dies at 101," 15 May 2018 Researchers have said that facial recognition algorithms often fail to identify, or misidentify, people of certain racial or ethnics groups. Jon Schuppe /, NBC News, "Axon's police body cams could be getting an AI upgrade. Civil rights groups are worried.," 26 Apr. 2018 For instance, in 2016 ethnic Amharas based in the Wolkait district opposed a federal plan that reorganized their land and placed it within the boundaries of the Tigray Regional State. Yohannes Y. Gedamu, Washington Post, "Ethiopia just pardoned political prisoners. Could that signal a shift to real democracy?," 9 Feb. 2018 Here is our first: A guide to 32 don't-miss food events in Cleveland in 2018, pizza parties and ethnics fests, paczki parties, maple sugar weekends and the return of the Fabulous Food Show. cleveland.com, "32 don't-miss Cleveland food events: 365 things to do in 2018," 10 Jan. 2018 The German-American Bund was founded in 1936 by pro-Nazi ethnic Germans living in the United States. Jason Daley, Smithsonian, "Footage Recalls the Night Madison Square Garden Filled With Nazis," 13 Oct. 2017 The group officials see as among the most vulnerable to Russian influence is the more than one million ethnic Germans who immigrated from the former Soviet Union. Anton Troianovski, WSJ, "Merkel’s Electoral Rivals Target Her Russia Policy," 13 Sep. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'ethnic.' 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 ethnic

Adjective

1542, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Noun

1941, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for ethnic

Adjective

Middle English, from Late Latin ethnicus, from Greek ethnikos national, gentile, from ethnos nation, people; akin to Greek ēthos custom — more at sib

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about ethnic

Statistics for ethnic

Last Updated

9 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for ethnic

The first known use of ethnic was in 1542

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for ethnic

ethnic

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of ethnic

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: of or relating to races or large groups of people who have the same customs, religion, origin, etc.
: associated with or belonging to a particular race or group of people who have a culture that is different from the main culture of a country

ethnic

noun

English Language Learners Definition of ethnic (Entry 2 of 2)

chiefly US : a person who belongs to a particular ethnic group

ethnic

adjective
eth·​nic | \ ˈeth-nik How to pronounce ethnic (audio) \

Kids Definition of ethnic

: of or relating to groups of people with common characteristics and customs ethnic food

Other Words from ethnic

ethnically \ -​ni-​kə-​lē \ adverb

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on ethnic

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for ethnic

Spanish Central: Translation of ethnic

Nglish: Translation of ethnic for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of ethnic for Arabic Speakers

Comments on ethnic

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

WORD OF THE DAY

using a distributed computer network

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Time Traveler Quiz: Which Word Came First?

  • time traveler quiz which word came first
  • Which came first?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Syn City

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

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!