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 Closed trials breed suspicion of prejudice and arbitrariness, which in turn spawns disrespect for law. Larry Neumeister, Star Tribune, "Hartford Courant wins appeal over secrecy in juvenile crimes," 1 Feb. 2021 Monteiro’s charge was dismissed without prejudice, which means that the police could someday refile charges — and there is no statute of limitations for murder. Amanda Milkovits, BostonGlobe.com, "Man falsely accused of murder sues Pawtucket police, says cold-case detective used him for publicity," 26 Jan. 2021 Court records show the county and the two female deputies agreed to have the case dismissed with prejudice, a legal term meaning it cannot be refiled. John Wisely, Detroit Free Press, "Wayne County settled with women who sued 2 candidates to replace Sheriff Benny Napoleon," 14 Jan. 2021 Its cast of performers and writers have forsaken the humanizing point of comedy and satire for obvious personal prejudice — the last resort of pundits who can’t sustain argument. Armond White, National Review, "Saturday Night Live and Its Mean-Spirited Players," 4 Nov. 2020 Challenges include not having insurance that covers the cost of infertility services, a lack of Black sperm and egg donors, prejudice from physicians, and feelings of shame and isolation. Usha Lee Mcfarling, STAT, "For Black women, the isolation of infertility is compounded by barriers to treatment," 14 Oct. 2020 But many Columbus statues were erected in the early 20th century as symbols of pride for Italian-Americans, a group that had faced fierce prejudice, even lynchings, in the 1890s. CBS News, "A monumental reckoning," 11 Oct. 2020 In reaction to his contesting another false prejudice—that the sun orbits the Earth—Galileo was kept in house arrest for nine years until his death in 1642. Avi Loeb, Scientific American, "Nature's Splendor Exceeds Our Imagination," 29 Sep. 2020 The fog of war falls on correspondents as well as on generals—propaganda, prejudice, ignorance, and the need to tell engaging stories to faraway readers limit and distort their vision. Fintan O’toole, The New York Review of Books, "A Moral Witness," 22 Sep. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Kempson was granted name suppression after he was convicted of Millane's murder in order not to prejudice the jury at his upcoming trials this year. Julia Hollingsworth, CNN, "Man who killed British backpacker Grace Millane abused two other women before her death," 21 Dec. 2020 These people can’t or won’t stop trying to prejudice their children against their former partner. Barbara Bradley Hagerty, The Atlantic, "Can Children Be Persuaded to Love a Parent They Hate?," 24 Nov. 2020 These estimates can prejudice the risk profile of a country, especially if the lead rating analyst is pessimistic about the country’s economic outlook. Misheck Mutize, Quartz Africa, "Africa’s post-Covid debt crisis is being aggravated by unreliable data and global ratings agencies," 23 Oct. 2020 Also at issue during Thursday’s hearing was the allowance of a defense expert’s remote testimony, which prosecutors argued would prejudice their case, and defense contended was necessary for theirs. James Whitlow, baltimoresun.com, "Trial of Radee Prince, alleged Advanced Granite Solutions shooter, will proceed with jury selection next week," 8 Oct. 2020 Defense attorney Bart Betteau said the comments would prejudice jurors against his client, reported the Courier Journal. Kc Baker, PEOPLE.com, "Ind. Man Accused of Killing Ex, Eating Her Organs Is Back on Trial After 2019 Mistrial," 16 Sep. 2020 Striking Judge Francis from consideration and requiring an ‘immediate appointment’ would not only prejudice the governor and the judiciary, but the very citizens of Florida whom both branches serve. John Haughey, Washington Examiner, "Attorneys: Governor didn’t appoint Francis to Florida Supreme Court, only ‘announced’ her selection," 11 Sep. 2020 The fact that the platform may only be used to declare Mr. Rittenhouse’s guilt, but not his innocence—though lawyers say the self-defense argument is plausible—could prejudice a jury pool in the high-profile case. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "Facebook’s Rittenhouse Mistake," 4 Sep. 2020 Researchers have found that these downstream defenses include more punitive reactions to criminals, increased rewards for heroes, prejudice toward other religions and countries and allegiance to charismatic politicians. Jeff Greenberg, The Conversation, "Coronavirus reminds you of death – and amplifies your core values, both bad and good," 21 May 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

11 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Prejudice.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/prejudice. Accessed 3 Mar. 2021.

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More Definitions for prejudice

prejudice

noun

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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