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 : pagan … ancient ethnic revels of a faith long since forsaken …— Henry Wadsworth Longfellow



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

Synonyms & Antonyms for ethnic

Synonyms: Adjective

Antonyms: Adjective

  • nonracial
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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 These feeling are not directed at all ethnic Russians, or all citizens of Russia. Stanislav Kucher, CNN, 13 May 2022 Moscow falsely insists that Ukraine’s leadership is riddled with neo-Nazis — even though Zelensky is Jewish — who are intent on cleansing the country of ethnic Russians, particularly in the eastern region of Donbas. Los Angeles Times, 9 May 2022 The village, 13 miles from the border crossing with Russia, is home to many ethnic Russians. Yaroslav Trofimov, WSJ, 4 May 2022 Other regions, like the Baltics, have large numbers of ethnic Russians who moved there during the Soviet occupation and can be targets for influence campaigns. Washington Post, 7 Apr. 2022 Putin touched on now-common themes, comparing the West to Nazi Germany and alleging, against all evidence, that Ukraine has been committing genocide against ethnic Russians. Alexander Smith, NBC News, 17 Mar. 2022 Most Kharkiv residents are Russian speakers, and many are ethnic Russians. New York Times, 17 Mar. 2022 Orlov reported that 1,207 have died in the city because of shelling and aerial attacks -- and that half of those killed were ethnic Russians. Meredith Deliso, ABC News, 9 Mar. 2022 His aggressions in Crimea and the eastern provinces of Ukraine, the Donbas, have turned out to be the first step of a broader aggressive plan, not a one-time realignment of ethnic Russians. Mark Cancian, Forbes, 7 Mar. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun From this pot, at least £20 million ($26 million) will go towards content made by Black, Asian and minority ethnic-led and disabled-led production companies. Alex Ritman, The Hollywood Reporter, 17 Mar. 2022 Of the £80 million fund, at least £20 million will be reserved for shows made by Black, Asian and minority ethnic-led and disabled-led production companies. Manori Ravindran, Variety, 17 Mar. 2022 But the strength to weather even the most tumultuous times comes from a strong core values and business ethnic’s aligned with one’s own personal values. Ashley Stahl, Forbes, 20 May 2021 The word ethnic is often identified with White people; expanding the concept of ethnicity to non-White people who also have cultural heritages important and valuable to them is a positive step for this nation. Vanessa Williams, Washington Post, 14 Aug. 2020 My research traces the history of the roughly 14 million ethnic Germans expelled by national governments across Eastern Europe at the end of World War II, in reaction to the atrocities committed by Nazi Germany. Anil Menon, The Conversation, 7 May 2020 Politicians can’t simply rely on the support of co-ethnics. Gabrielle Lynch, Quartz Africa, 20 Feb. 2020 The move followed an announcement by Gen. Richard Clarke in August of a comprehensive review of Special Operations Forces' culture and ethnics. NBC News, 7 Sep. 2019 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, 13 Mar. 2019 See More

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.

First Known Use of ethnic


1542, in the meaning defined at sense 2


1941, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for ethnic


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

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Last Updated

19 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Ethnic.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for ethnic


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

More from Merriam-Webster on ethnic

Nglish: Translation of ethnic for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of ethnic for Arabic Speakers


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