prejudice

noun
prej·​u·​dice | \ ˈpre-jə-dəs How to pronounce prejudice (audio) \

Definition of prejudice

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : injury or damage resulting from some judgment or action of another in disregard of one's rights especially : detriment to one's legal rights or claims
2a(1) : preconceived judgment or opinion
(2) : an adverse opinion or leaning formed without just grounds or before sufficient knowledge
b : an instance of such judgment or opinion
c : an irrational attitude of hostility directed against an individual, a group, a race, or their supposed characteristics

prejudice

verb
prejudiced; prejudicing

Definition of prejudice (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to injure or damage by some judgment or action (as in a case of law)
2 : to cause to have prejudice

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Choose the Right Synonym for prejudice

Noun

predilection, prepossession, prejudice, bias mean an attitude of mind that predisposes one to favor something. predilection implies a strong liking deriving from one's temperament or experience. a predilection for travel prepossession suggests a fixed conception likely to preclude objective judgment of anything counter to it. a prepossession against technology prejudice usually implies an unfavorable prepossession and connotes a feeling rooted in suspicion, fear, or intolerance. a mindless prejudice against the unfamiliar bias implies an unreasoned and unfair distortion of judgment in favor of or against a person or thing. a strong bias toward the plaintiff

Prejudice: For or Against?

Although prejudice, with its connotations of intolerance , implies a negative bias, the word can be used in positive constructions:

I, too, appreciate projects that treat a difficult subject with rigor, although I'll confess to harboring a bit of prejudice toward thing-biographies.
Adam Baer, Harper's, May 2011

That's true for the participial adjective prejudiced as well:

“The question itself as posed in the survey obviously is prejudiced in favor of the program,” said Tod Story, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada.
Neal Morton, Las Vegas Review Journal, 2 Aug. 2016

In negative constructions, prejudice and prejudiced often precede against:

Lee County Circuit Judge Jacob Walker on Tuesday ruled that claims of juror misconduct by former House Speaker Mike Hubbard failed to show that the jury was prejudiced against Hubbard.
Mike Cason, AL.com, 19 Oct. 2016

Examples of prejudice in a Sentence

Noun But today most black Americans not hampered by poverty or prejudice take for granted their right to study Italian, listen to Britney Spears or opera, play in the NHL, eat Thai food, live anywhere, work anywhere, play anywhere, read and think and say anything. — Stephan Talty, Mulatto America, 2003 It is easy to suppose at this late date that there is barely any overt racism left in the United States,  … Kennedy's catalog of mundane cases of explicit anti-black prejudice provides ample illustration of what lurks beneath the surface politeness of many whites. — John McWhorter, New Republic, 14 Jan. 2002 The boundaries between hate and prejudice and between prejudice and opinion and between opinion and truth are so complicated and blurred that any attempt to construct legal and political fire walls is a doomed and illiberal venture. — Andrew Sullivan, New York Times Magazine, 26 Sept. 1999 When my mother, who, unlike my father, was Jewish, encountered unpleasant social prejudice during my high-school years, I acquired a second marginal identity. — Carl E. Schorske, Thinking with History, 1998 The organization fights against racial prejudice. religious, racial, and sexual prejudices We tend to make these kinds of decisions according to our own prejudices. He has a prejudice against fast-food restaurants. Verb Paul Revere … engraved the drawing and printed hundreds of vividly colored copies, which traveled throughout the colonies. Well might one judge at Captain Preston's trial complain that "there has been a great deal done to prejudice the People against the Prisoner." — Hiller B. Zobel, American Heritage, July/August 1995 My friends would have had me delay my departure, but fearful of prejudicing my employers against me by such want of punctuality at the commencement of my undertaking, I persisted in keeping the appointment. — Anne Brontë, Agnes Grey, 1847 all the bad stories I had heard about the incoming CEO prejudiced me against him even before the first meeting
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun On Wednesday, the parties stipulated to dismissal of the action with prejudice, meaning the claims may not be refiled. Eriq Gardner, Billboard, "Disney Settles Michael Jackson Estate's Suit Over ABC's 'Last Days' Special," 19 Dec. 2019 The request asked that the lawsuit be dismissed with prejudice, meaning the accusations cannot be brought against Walton again. Dakin Andone, CNN, "Former sportscaster who accused NBA coach Luke Walton of sexual assault drops lawsuit," 5 Dec. 2019 There is a young bride from Barbados who settles in Cornwall in the 1950s, grappling with racial prejudice while trying to make friends and raise her family. The Economist, "Margaret Atwood and Bernardine Evaristo both win the Booker prize," 15 Oct. 2019 The case was dismissed with prejudice after both sides agreed to an undisclosed out-of-court settlement in 2014. Rubén Rosario, Twin Cities, "Rosario: On my honor, I will do my best to describe the ongoing Boy Scout scandal," 10 Aug. 2019 With its unsettling ending, Lee’s tale underscores how the presumption of guilt based on prevailing prejudices threatens American justice. Allysia Finley, WSJ, "The Senate’s Job Isn’t to Kill a Mockingbird," 3 Oct. 2018 Without a cure or a vaccine, this kind of prejudice is its own type of disease. Connie Wang, refinery29.com, "What It Means To Wear A Face Mask In America," 11 Mar. 2020 This time around, Warren had a chance to shift the debate by comprehensively rejecting such coded language, challenging voters to confront the history, costs, and consequences of prejudice. Caroline Fraser, The New York Review of Books, "Warren in the Trap," 13 Feb. 2020 The Tennessee code of judicial conduct prohibits judges from employing bias, prejudice or harassment based upon race. Washington Post, "Judge says he’s sorry for ‘regular white man’ comment," 31 Jan. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Pell was convicted in December after a trial held in secret to avoid prejudicing another potential trial, which was ultimately abandoned. Hilary Whiteman, CNN, "Cardinal Pell to take fight against child sex conviction to the High Court," 17 Sep. 2019 After The News’ story, Halprin’s attorneys wanted to know whether Cunningham was prejudiced toward their client. Lavendrick Smith, Dallas News, "Supreme Court won’t hear ‘Texas Seven’ inmate’s case after he accused judge of bigotry," 6 Apr. 2020 Well, Justice Department protocols prohibit prosecutors from prejudicing suspects by publicizing the evidence against them unless and until they are formally charged. Andrew C. Mccarthy, National Review, "How Mueller’s Lawyers Spun the OLC Guidance on Indicting a Sitting President," 28 July 2019 However, Mueller will not be permitted to discuss that material, to avoid prejudicing Stone’s trial on charges of obstruction, making false statements, and witness tampering (which is scheduled for November). Andrew Prokop, Vox, "Watch live: Robert Mueller’s testimony about the Trump-Russia investigation," 24 July 2019 With that in mind, the league and team might not want to risk prejudicing Williams’s criminal case by disciplining her for an unproven charge. Michael Mccann, SI.com, "The WNBA and Complications That Arise in Domestic Abuse Cases," 15 July 2019 In this Party of Five, Emilio is a vulnerable DACA recipient, everyone is constantly video chatting with parents who miss them terribly and prejudice against the undocumented lurks everywhere, even within the Latinx community. Judy Berman, Time, "Everything's Gonna Be Okay," 3 Jan. 2020 The messages, which came to light in December 2017, fueled claims that the FBI was prejudiced against Trump and became ammunition for scores of angry tweets and public statements by the president and his supporters. Washington Post, "National Digest: Pa. appeals court rejects Bill Cosby’s attempt to overturn conviction," 10 Dec. 2019 Other viral outbreaks have been met with xenophobia — the dislike of and prejudice against other countries. Sara Li, Teen Vogue, "As Coronavirus Spreads, So Does Anti-Chinese Racism," 27 Feb. 2020

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

Noun

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for prejudice

Noun and Verb

Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Latin praejudicium previous judgment, damage, from prae- + judicium judgment — more at judicial

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Time Traveler for prejudice

Time Traveler

The first known use of prejudice was in the 13th century

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Statistics for prejudice

Last Updated

4 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Prejudice.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/prejudice. Accessed 4 Jun. 2020.

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More Definitions for prejudice

prejudice

noun
How to pronounce prejudice (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of prejudice

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: an unfair feeling of dislike for a person or group because of race, sex, religion, etc.
: a feeling of like or dislike for someone or something especially when it is not reasonable or logical

prejudice

verb

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

: to cause (someone) to have an unfair feeling of dislike for someone or something
formal : to have a harmful effect on (something, such as a legal case)

prejudice

noun
prej·​u·​dice | \ ˈpre-jə-dəs How to pronounce prejudice (audio) \

Kids Definition of prejudice

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a liking or dislike for one rather than another especially without good reason She has a prejudice against department stores.
2 : a feeling of unfair dislike directed against an individual or a group because of some characteristic (as race or religion)
3 : injury or damage to a person's rights

prejudice

verb
prejudiced; prejudicing

Kids Definition of prejudice (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to cause to have an unfair dislike of The incident prejudiced them against the company.
2 : to cause damage to (as a person's rights) Newspaper stories prejudiced the upcoming trial.

prejudice

noun
prej·​u·​dice | \ ˈpre-jə-dəs How to pronounce prejudice (audio) \

Legal Definition of prejudice

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : injury or detriment to one's legal rights or claims (as from the action of another): as
a : substantial impairment of a defendant's ability to defend the court found no prejudice to the defendant by the lengthy delay in bringing charges
b : tendency for a decision on an improper basis (as past conduct) by a trier of fact whether an ex parte communication to a deliberating jury resulted in any reasonable possibility of prejudice to the defendantNational Law Journal
c : implied waiver of rights and privileges not explicitly retained District Court erred in attaching prejudice to prisoner's complaint for injunctive reliefNational Law Journal
2 : a final and binding decision (as an adjudication on the merits) that bars further prosecution of the same cause of action or motion dismisses this case with prejudice the dismissal was without prejudice
3a : an irrational attitude of hostility directed against an individual, a group, a race, or their supposed characteristics the Constitution does not prohibit laws based on prejudice per se— R. H. Bork
b : an attitude or disposition (as of a judge) that prevents impartiality that the judge before whom the matter is pending has a personal bias or prejudice…against himU.S. Code

prejudice

transitive verb
prejudiced; prejudicing

Legal Definition of prejudice (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to injure or damage the rights of by some legal action or prejudice if the joinder of offenses or defendants…appears to prejudice a defendant or the governmentFederal Rules of Criminal Procedure Rule 14
2 : to injure or damage (rights) by some legal action or prejudice that the denial prejudiced his right to a fair trial this clause does not prejudice other rights

History and Etymology for prejudice

Noun

Old French, from Latin praejudicium previous judgment, damage, from prae- before + judicium judgment

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