mi·​cro·​ag·​gres·​sion | \ˌmī-krō-ə-ˈgre-shən \

Definition of microaggression 

: a comment or action that subtly and often unconsciously or unintentionally expresses a prejudiced attitude toward a member of a marginalized group (such as a racial minority) A digital photo project run by a Fordham University student about "racial microaggressions" features minority students holding up signs with comments like "You're really pretty … for a dark-skin girl."— Jinnie Spiegler There is a real and worthy conversation taking place in this country now, particularly among young people, around the idea of microaggressions—slight, often unintended discriminatory comments or behaviors.— Charles M. Blow also : behavior or speech that is characterized by such comments or actions … argues that the power of microaggression lies in its invisibility to the perpetrator, who typically finds it difficult to believe that he or she possesses biased attitudes. — Emily Skop

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Other Words from microaggression

microaggressive \ˌmī-​krō-​ə-​ˈgre-​siv \ adjective
microaggressive behaviors … the group quite clearly criticized his teaching as microaggressive. — Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt
microaggressor \ˌmī-​krō-​ə-​ˈgre-​sər \ noun
Even "microaggressions" websites themselves would be unobjectionable to some of their critics if they merely made the case that certain phrases and behaviors should be avoided. What these critics find objectionable are two other aspects of "microaggressions" culture: attempts to publicly shame "microaggressors;" and attempts to punish alleged "microaggressors" by reporting them to the authorities. — Conor Friedersdorf

Examples of microaggression in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Now that microaggressions like these are being brought to light on social media, the conversation is opening up. Janelle Okwodu, Vogue, "Shopping While Black: Why I’m No Longer Afraid to Call Time on Racial Profiling," 29 Aug. 2018 But our sessions took a weird turn when some of my anxiety about my income and struggle with friends and family intersected with racial oppression and microaggressions. Jacy Topps, Glamour, "Why I'll Be Choosing My Next Therapist by Race," 30 May 2018 But the event and venue were significant because Yale students had nearly rioted a few months before over a dorm master’s wife’s email that gently challenged the university’s warning that microaggressions might lurk in some Halloween costumes. Nina Burleigh, Newsweek, "The Battle Against ‘Hate Speech’ on College Campuses Gives Rise to a Generation That Hates Speech," 26 May 2016 But some students and professors are standing up against the new culture of safe spaces, trigger warnings, microaggressions and bias response teams. Emily Esfahani Smith, WSJ, "A Movement Rises to Take Back Higher Education," 17 June 2018 This year, Professor Nadal will be publishing his ninth book in microaggression theory and is also launching an LGBTQ training program with the New York City Policy Department. NBC News, "#Pride30: Professor Kevin Leo Nadal is making his mark in LGBTQ academia," 31 May 2018 But these remarks and microaggressions are proxy measures of the power and discriminatory culture permeating personal and professional spaces. Nicolas Nguyen, STAT, "‘Benign sexism’ intrudes at a meeting of the world’s brightest minds," 3 July 2018 Sometimes their misogyny can be hard to spot—like a microaggression inflicted on a coworker. Ellen Pao, WIRED, "The Perverse Incentives That Help Incels Thrive in Tech," 19 June 2018 More additions included: microaggression (a statement or act regarded as prejudice), Lorem ipsum (sample text) and Silent Generation (people born before baby boomers). Ashley May, USA TODAY, "Spoiler alert, binge-watch, impostor syndrome added to Oxford English Dictionary," 14 June 2018

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

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First Known Use of microaggression

1970, in the meaning defined above

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Last Updated

26 Nov 2018

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The first known use of microaggression was in 1970

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