ori·​en·​tal | \ ˌȯr-ē-ˈen-tᵊl How to pronounce oriental (audio) \

Definition of oriental

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 or Oriental : of, relating to, or situated in the orient
2 or Oriental : of, relating to, or coming from Asia and especially eastern Asia oriental food oriental art now usually considered offensive when used to describe a person
3 Oriental : of, relating to, or constituting the biogeographic region that includes Asia south and southeast of the Himalayas and the Malay Archipelago west of Wallace's line
4a : of superior grade, luster, or value
b : being corundum or sapphire but simulating another gem in color



Definition of Oriental (Entry 2 of 2)

1 dated, now usually offensive : asian especially : one who is a native of east Asia or is of east Asian descent

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Other Words from oriental


orientally \ ˌȯr-​ē-​ˈen-​tᵊl-​ē How to pronounce orientally (audio) \ adverb

Examples of oriental in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Flamenco’s music and dance were later also shaped by ballet and the commercial culture of glitzy urban night clubs and music halls, and by foreigners who saw in flamenco something exotic, erotic, oriental. Jennifer Homans, The New Yorker, "Noche Flamenca Gets Deeper with Age," 30 Dec. 2019 Grow oriental persimmon without pruning or a spray program. Calvin Finch, ExpressNews.com, "Gardening: Growing figs, apples, pears and plums in your San Antonio backyard; what you need to know," 16 Jan. 2020 Yellow celosias, pink dahlias, white oriental lilies, red celosias, and big sunflowers are what’s on Prada’s floral menu, to name a few, allowing for shoppers to customize the exact arrangement to their taste. Vogue, "This is How You Make a Prada-Worthy Bouquet," 18 Nov. 2019 An American girl cycles across Romania: Two-wheel pilgrim pedals the land of castles and gypsies, where Roman Empire traces mingle with remnants of oriental migrations. Cathy Newman, National Geographic, "The world through the eyes of women," 15 Nov. 2019 Kourtney's perfume is the yellow diamond, which is meant to smell like daylight and is a sparkling oriental gourmand. Jenna Rosenstein, Harper's BAZAAR, "Kourtney and Khloe Kardashian are Releasing KKW Fragrances With Sister Kim," 29 Oct. 2019 As the naked oriental strand boards that line the short tunnel suggest, Daymoves is still a work in progress. Daymoves’ physical aesthetic is what first unapologetically stands out. Brian Josephs, Billboard, "Inside Daymoves, James Murphy's Airy New Brooklyn Cafe," 20 Sep. 2019 One of the worst is oriental bittersweet, which is a fiend in the woods and meadows. Washington Post, "Vines are a romantic addition to the garden — until they go rogue," 9 July 2019 His displays include dahlias, cannas, calla lilies, oriental lilies, day lilies, hydrangeas, climbing hydrangeas, rhododendrons, pink, white, purple, roses, peonies, rudbeckias, coneflowers, clematis, lupines and many others. courant.com, "Community News For The West Hartford Edition," 15 June 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'oriental.' 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 oriental


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for oriental

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The first known use of oriental was in the 14th century

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Cite this Entry

“Oriental.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/oriental. Accessed 6 Aug. 2020.

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How to pronounce Oriental (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of oriental

 (Entry 1 of 2)

old-fashioned : of, relating to, or from Asia and especially eastern Asia



English Language Learners Definition of Oriental (Entry 2 of 2)

old-fashioned + offensive : a person from eastern Asia


adjective, often capitalized
ori·​en·​tal | \ ˌōr-ē-ˈen-tᵊl How to pronounce oriental (audio) \

Kids Definition of oriental

1 sometimes offensive : asian entry 1
Hint: In the past, this word was not considered offensive when applied to Asian people. In recent years, however, many people have come to find the word hurtful when applied to a person, and you may offend someone by using it in that way.
2 : relating to or from the region that includes the countries of eastern Asia (as China, Japan, South Korea, and North Korea)

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More from Merriam-Webster on oriental

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with oriental

Spanish Central: Translation of oriental

Nglish: Translation of oriental for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of oriental for Arabic Speakers

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