mi·​cro·​ag·​gres·​sion | \ ˌmī-krō-ə-ˈgre-shən How to pronounce microaggression (audio) \

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 How to pronounce microaggression (audio) \ adjective
microaggressive behaviors … the group quite clearly criticized his teaching as microaggressive. — Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt
microaggressor \ ˌmī-​krō-​ə-​ˈgre-​sər How to pronounce microaggression (audio) \ 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 To many, this is yet another microaggression, another small slight meant to diminish its target. Ilana Redstone, Forbes, "Hoping To Get Better At Holding Uncomfortable Conversations? Try These Techniques.," 21 Mar. 2021 Montgomery Community Media also condemned the comments, calling the exchange a form of microaggression. Harmeet Kaur, CNN, "A Latina councilmember's discussion on Zoom about racial disparities was interrupted by people laughing about her accent," 4 Mar. 2021 And even what some may consider a minute microaggression — a sideways look or subtle racist dig — can have long-term health effects. Katherine Singh, refinery29.com, "A Year Into COVID, Anti-Asian Racism Continues To Spread," 15 Feb. 2021 The term microaggression was coined in the 1970s by Chester M. Pierce, a psychiatrist and Harvard University professor. BostonGlobe.com, "A better Boston? The choice is ours," 16 Dec. 2017 Weaver spoke candidly about growing up as a young nerd who was bullied by his peers and subjected to microaggression by his teachers. Tamara Wilson, CNN, "Activist creates new narrative to counter negative media portrayals of young Black people," 9 Oct. 2020 Rankine’s catalog of quotidian insults, snubs, and misperceptions dovetailed with the emergence of microaggression as a term for the everyday psychic stress inflicted on marginalized people. Ismail Muhammad, The Atlantic, "Claudia Rankine’s Quest for Racial Dialogue," 4 Sep. 2020 Black women are 3x more likely than white men and 2.5x more likely than white women to hear a coworker express surprise about their language skills or other abilities (a common microaggression). Megan Ditrolio, Marie Claire, "Today, Black Women’s Equal Pay Day, Illustrates Just How Much Black Women Are Undervalued and Underpaid," 13 Aug. 2020 Anyone who has experienced discrimination, a microaggression, or an attack: Report it to Stop AAPI Hate. Ellen Mcgirt, Fortune, "Building a better world, one boot camp at a time," 11 Aug. 2020

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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The first known use of microaggression was in 1970

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Last Updated

31 Mar 2021

Cite this Entry

“Microaggression.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/microaggression. Accessed 6 May. 2021.

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