: 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
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 WebWhile technically true, this isn’t really what most people would consider to be a microaggression.—WIRED, 7 Oct. 2023 Related: Is ‘ladies’ a microaggression?—Adria Watson, BostonGlobe.com, 7 Apr. 2023 Disarm and dismantle the microaggression.—Jennifer Lu, Los Angeles Times, 1 June 2021 Does Lea even know what a microaggression is?—Rachel Yang, EW.com, 11 June 2020 While Hilton seemed unaware of the gaffe, many perceived it to be a microaggression given that Hilton is white and both Lizzo and Sidibe are curvy Black women.—Bellamy Richardson, Peoplemag, 11 Aug. 2022 That in and of itself is a microaggression.—Judith Martin, Washington Post, 11 Dec. 2020 And that answer is a microaggression.—Jessica Guynn, USA TODAY, 27 Aug. 2020 What exactly is a microaggression?—Michele Barnwell, Good Housekeeping, 4 Aug. 2020 See More
These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'microaggression.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.
The word was introduced by the Black American psychiatrist Chester Middlebrook Pierce (1927-2016), probably earliest in the essay "Offensive Mechanisms," in The Black Seventies (Boston, 1970), p. 266.