prejudice

noun
prej·​u·​dice | \ ˈpre-jə-dəs \

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

To reach someone from a different bubble than theirs, great leaders ignore their feelings and set aside their prejudices. Sam Walker, WSJ, "The Privilege Trap: Can Rich Kids Become Good Leaders?," 6 Oct. 2018 The case was dismissed without prejudice, meaning it can be refiled. David Barron, Houston Chronicle, "Ex-Texans cheerleaders drop lawsuit, opt for arbitration," 11 July 2018 The city’s complaint was denied without prejudice, meaning the legality of the SDSU West initiative could be challenged after the election. Phillip Molnar, sandiegouniontribune.com, "SDSU West initiative gets judge's tentative OK for ballot," 4 July 2018 According to the Arizona Republic, Mesa City Prosecutor John Belatti filed a motion to dismiss without prejudice the charges of disorderly conduct and hindering police that were brought against 35-year-old Robert Johnson. Breanna Edwards, The Root, "All Charges Dropped Against Mesa, Ariz., Man Who Was Brutally Beaten by Cops," 15 June 2018 Starbucks may well become a national model for how to get employees talking about their racial prejudices. Jenice Armstrong, Philly.com, "Kudos to Starbucks, but it's going to take more than a workshop to end racial bias | Jenice Armstrong," 29 May 2018 His prejudice may be the only honest thing about him. Sarah Jones, The New Republic, "The Myth of Trump’s Populist Revolt," 18 May 2018 The researchers say their work shows something that has been seen in studies of racial prejudice, for example—the impression of cultural norms is a major driver of behavior. Scott K. Johnson, Ars Technica, "You think your neighbors can drive energy conservation," 18 Sep. 2018 Birtherism and other concerns may be why nearly 3 in 10 Americans viewed racial prejudice as underlying the tea party movement, according to a 2010 Washington Post-ABC poll. Eugene Scott, Washington Post, "For many black voters, Paul Ryan’s legacy will be his insufficient criticism of Trump on race matters," 11 Apr. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

In its ruling, the court said introducing past acts for which a defendant wasn’t charged as evidence to support conviction on a later crime could unfairly prejudice the jury. Corinne Ramey, WSJ, "Harvey Weinstein Prosecutors Look Into Filmmaker’s Days at Miramax," 18 Sep. 2018 And, while mistakes are a natural part of the trial process, the mistake here prejudiced the government by conveying to the jury that the government had acted improperly and had violated court rules or procedures. Aruna Viswanatha And Del Quentin Wilber, WSJ, "Bank Worker Testifies Manafort Signed Loan Application With False Information," 9 Aug. 2018 Writing for the majority Friday, Justice Richard Palmer said Skakel was prejudiced in the case by Sherman’s failure to obtain alibi testimony from witness Denis Ossorio. Washington Post, "Court vacates Kennedy cousin Skakel’s murder conviction," 4 May 2018 Manafort's attorneys have argued that the intense media coverage of their client's case has saturated the potential jury pool, potentially prejudicing jurors against Manafort. Kevin Johnson, USA TODAY, "Manafort trial judge seeks government response to venue change, delay requests," 10 July 2018 Defence attorneys face a battle to prevent global revulsion against David and Louise Turpin from prejudicing their court case. Dipesh Navsaria, Houston Chronicle, "What parents should know to prevent — and deal with — bug bites," 6 July 2018 The Chinese foreign ministry said in December that Turnbull's remarks were prejudiced against China and had poisoned the atmosphere of China-Australia relations. Rod Mcguirk, Fox News, "Australia bans covert foreign interference in politics," 28 June 2018 Typically, the White House avoids interfering in criminal justice matters to ensure that such cases aren’t politicized or prejudiced. Byron Tau, WSJ, "Senate Staffer Accused of Lying to FBI Requests Trump Gag Order," 19 June 2018 The law in England and Wales places restrictions on what can be reported during trials in order to avoid prejudicing a jury, and in this case the media was forbidden to report any details. Siobhan Morrin, Time, "Why Tommy Robinson Was Jailed, and Why U.S. Rightwingers Care," 29 May 2018

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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Statistics for prejudice

Last Updated

16 Jan 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for prejudice

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

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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

: to have a harmful effect on (something, such as a legal case)

prejudice

noun
prej·​u·​dice | \ ˈpre-jə-dəs \

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 \

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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