noun, often attributive
mi·​nor·​i·​ty | \ mə-ˈnȯr-ə-tē, mī-, -ˈnär-\
plural minorities

Definition of minority

1a : the period before attainment of majority (see majority sense 2)
b : the state of being a legal minor
2 : the smaller in number of two groups constituting a whole specifically : a group having less than the number of votes necessary for control The proposition was opposed by a minority of voters.
3a : a part of a population differing from others in some characteristics and often subjected to differential treatment the country's ethnic minorities
b : a member of a minority group an effort to hire more minorities

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms for minority


adolescence, nonage

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of minority in a Sentence

The proposal is opposed by a minority of voters. The Republicans are now the minority in the Senate. The group is becoming an influential minority in the community.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

And then there were the violent acts and threats leading up to the election that contributed to an environment that left many voters, in particular people of color and members of minority groups, increasingly disempowered. Bree Newsome, SELF, "The 2018 Midterm Elections Proved That Change Must Happen from the Ground Up," 15 Nov. 2018 Unlike some other countries in Asia, Vietnam is notably accepting—even encouraging—of its 53 minority groups, as witness by Hanoi's Museum of Ethnology. Hanya Yanagihara, Condé Nast Traveler, "50 Things to Do in Asia Before You Die," 24 Sep. 2018 Muslim and Christian Arabs make up 21 percent of the population, and other non-Jewish minority groups account for 5 percent. Ruth Eglash, Washington Post, "Jewish or democratic? Israel debates its founding principles.," 12 July 2018 Spotify saw increases across all minority employee groups, according to the report. Grace Donnelly, Fortune, "Spotify's June 2018 Diversity Report Shows Some Slow Progress," 11 July 2018 The court has explained that vote dilution occurs when mapmakers limit a minority group’s ability to translate its voting strength into voting power, drawing district lines to ensure that white voters can select its preferred candidate. Anne Branigin, The Root, "Supreme Court Punts on Partisan Gerrymandering as Neil Gorsuch and Clarence Thomas Set Sights on Dismantling Voting Rights Act," 25 June 2018 Forty percent of millennials, according to a Pew Research Center poll in 2015, think the government should be allowed to prevent speech that is offensive to minority groups. Jeet Heer, The New Republic, "In Trump’s America, the ACLU takes a new approach to free speech.," 23 June 2018 So, several groups of people who need education the most to pull themselves up — the poor, who are over-represented among minority groups — have more challenges to finishing a degree than those from already successful families. Christopher Quinn, ajc, "Costs of starting and not finishing college are high," 23 June 2018 The law sent Native American voters into a scramble to provide street addresses, and carried the risk of disenfranchising an entire group of minority voters. Ella Nilsen, Vox, "This Democrat thinks voting rights should be one of the House’s first big priorities in January," 11 Dec. 2018

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

See More

First Known Use of minority

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about minority

Statistics for minority

Last Updated

10 Jan 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for minority

The first known use of minority was in the 15th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for minority



English Language Learners Definition of minority

: a number or amount that is less than half of a total

: the group that is the smaller part of a larger group

: a group of people who are different from the larger group in a country, area, etc., in some way (such as race or religion)


mi·​nor·​i·​ty | \ mə-ˈnȯr-ə-tē \
plural minorities

Kids Definition of minority

1 : the state of not being old enough to have the full rights of an adult
2 : a number less than half of a total The proposal is opposed by a minority of voters.
3 : a group that makes up a smaller part of a larger group The animals affected are a minority.
4 : a part of a population that is in some ways (as in race or religion) different from others


plural minorities

Legal Definition of minority

1a : the period before attainment of majority
b : the state of being a minor
2 : the smaller of two groups constituting a whole: as
a : a group (as in a legislative body) having less than the number of votes necessary for control
b : a group of judges among those hearing an appeal who disagree with the majority's judgment : dissent sense 3
c : a group of jurisdictions taking a less widespread approach to or view of a legal question, issue, or problem
3a : a part of a population differing especially from the dominant group in some characteristics (as race, sex, or national origin) and often subject to differential treatment
b : a member of a minority an effort to hire more minorities

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on minority

What made you want to look up minority? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


marked by shyness and lack of polish

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Homophone Quiz

  • three-bears-two-of-them-look-like-theyre-whispering-to-a-third-bear-who-looks-chuffed-to-be-the-center-of-attention
  • In order to judge how people felt, the senator's office hired a firm to take a ______.
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

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