ethnic

1 of 2

adjective

eth·​nic ˈeth-nik How to pronounce ethnic (audio)
1
a
: 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

ethnic

2 of 2

noun

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

Examples of ethnic in a Sentence

Adjective The U.S. has a wide variety of ethnic groups made up of immigrants or their descendants. a festival featuring ethnic food and music
Recent Examples on the Web
Adjective
Members of some ethnic groups are also have a higher risk of the disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Katherine Hignett, Forbes, 20 Feb. 2024 All were founded by talents from the Cape Malay community, a South African ethnic group with a huge impact on the city's cultural life. Sarah Khan, Condé Nast Traveler, 19 Feb. 2024 Most of the Afghans who fled to Iran over the years were Hazaras, one of the largest ethnic groups in their country who share the Shiite Muslim faith with most Iranians. Farnaz Fassihi, New York Times, 19 Feb. 2024 There are no known insurgent groups operating in that province, home to the Bakhtiari, a branch of Iran's Lur ethnic group. Jon Gambrell The Associated Press, arkansasonline.com, 15 Feb. 2024 On the battlefield, where pro-democracy fighters and ethnic insurgents are waging a multifront campaign, calls by army units for reinforcements and resupply of ammunition have frequently gone unanswered, former commanders said. Rebecca Tan, Washington Post, 14 Feb. 2024 The study found that Latina educators held lower levels of education than other racial and ethnic groups. Jenny Gold, Los Angeles Times, 13 Feb. 2024 The fighting escalated last October, when powerful armed ethnic militias joined with resistance forces to mount major new offensives against the military. Alex Stambaugh, CNN, 11 Feb. 2024 The Lunar New Year is one of the most popular holidays in China, though it's celebrated all across the Asian continent and in pockets of ethnic communities across the globe. TIME, 10 Feb. 2024
Noun
Even during the 1930s and 1940s, when Blacks and Jews cumulatively accounted for less than 5 percent of Minneapolis’s population, the police force was drawn from white ethnics. Samuel G. Freedman, The New Republic, 21 June 2023 During the annual basketball game between ethnics and galawas, a shirtless Eubank is all hustle. Jason Motlagh, Rolling Stone, 16 Apr. 2023 The Revolution of Dignity in 2014 began to change the idea of the nation’s identity from an ethnic to a civic one. George Packer, The Atlantic, 6 Sep. 2022 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 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'ethnic.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Adjective

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

First Known Use

Adjective

1542, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Noun

1941, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of ethnic was in 1542

Dictionary Entries Near ethnic

Cite this Entry

“Ethnic.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ethnic. Accessed 27 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition

ethnic

1 of 2 noun
eth·​nic ˈeth-nik How to pronounce ethnic (audio)
: a member of an ethnic group
especially : a member of a minority group who keeps customs, language, or social ideas of the group

ethnic

2 of 2 adjective
1
: of or relating to groups of people with common traits and customs and a sense of shared identity
ethnic minorities
2
: of or relating to ethnics
ethnic neighborhoods
ethnically
-ni-k(ə-)lē
adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on ethnic

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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