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

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Synonyms for minority


adolescence, nonage

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Such agreements have been used to force departments to overhaul training on the use of deadly force and to change practices regarding treatment of minorities. Sadie Gurman, WSJ, "Before Leaving, Sessions Limited Agreements to Fix Police Agencies," 9 Nov. 2018 Campuses that have implemented race-neutral admissions policies have seen dramatic declines in enrollment of underrepresented minorities. Charlotte West, Teen Vogue, "What You Need to Know about Race and College Admissions," 27 Sep. 2018 Why worry about the accuracy of these tools when the bigger problem is whether or not they’ll be used for government surveillance and the targeting of minorities? James Vincent, The Verge, "The tech industry doesn’t have a plan for dealing with bias in facial recognition," 26 July 2018 For civil rights lawyers and federal investigators, those episodes offer evidence of a police force in trouble and too often willing to trample the rights of minorities. Brad Heath, USA TODAY, "Baltimore police stopped noticing crime after Freddie Gray's death. A wave of killings followed.," 12 July 2018 The lawsuit, filed by the ACLU of Wisconsin in February 2017, accuses Milwaukee police of routinely stopping thousands of minorities without cause or suspicion. Mary Spicuzza, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Milwaukee Common Council approves $3.4 million settlement in ACLU stop-and-frisk lawsuit," 10 July 2018 Trump’s history of harsh rhetoric targeting minorities also taints standard-fare GOP initiatives such as cutting food stamps and imposing work requirements on Medicaid and other social services. Annie Linskey, BostonGlobe.com, "President Trump’s racially charged words dovetail with harsh policies," 9 July 2018 Meet the Black Women’s Congressional Alliance, a group of minority Congressional staffers from all political perspectives who are banding together to address the lack of representation on Capitol Hill. Ellen Mcgirt, Fortune, "raceAhead: Bryan Stevenson's Call To Action for CEOs," 27 June 2018 The first South Asian to be named to a lifetime federal judgeship, Thapar is one of three minorities on Trump's list of 25 names, which was put together in consultation with conservative legal scholars. Darcy Costello, The Courier-Journal, "Kentuckian on Trump's short list for Supreme Court," 27 June 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.

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First Known Use of minority

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

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Statistics for minority

Last Updated

14 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for minority

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

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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

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Comments on minority

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playful or foolish behavior

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