lookism

noun

look·​ism ˈlu̇-ki-zəm How to pronounce lookism (audio)
variants or less commonly looksism
: prejudice or discrimination based on physical appearance and especially physical appearance believed to fall short of societal notions of beauty

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Lookism and Discrimination

There are a lot of -isms in the English language but most people overlook lookism. It describes the prejudice or discrimination people have toward others because of their appearances. People first used the word in the late 1970s in reference to how people were viewing others who were heavier set. Today the panorama of lookism extends from the "overly" beautiful actor or actress to the homely child. Economists, sociologists, and psychologists alike pay close attention to the lookism that occurs in everyday life and examine how it affects people and society as a whole.

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web Even newborn babies prefer attractive to nonattractive faces, which means lookism may be genetic, said Michael Cunningham, a psychologist and expert on the dynamics of attraction at the University of Louisville. Alfred Lubrano, Philly.com, 11 July 2018

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

Word History

First Known Use

1978, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of lookism was in 1978

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Dictionary Entries Near lookism

Cite this Entry

“Lookism.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/lookism. Accessed 10 Dec. 2022.

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