prejudice

1 of 2

noun

prej·​u·​dice ˈpre-jə-dəs How to pronounce prejudice (audio)
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
2
a(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

2 of 2

verb

prejudiced; prejudicing

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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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

Choose the Right Synonym for prejudice

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

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 See More
Recent Examples on the Web
Noun
Other than mandamus actions, a suit under 42 USC 1983, was filed, I was never served and the matter was ultimately dismissed with prejudice, without my participation. Harriet Ramos, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 15 Feb. 2024 There’s actually a long history of cockroaches being named based on prejudice all over the world. Claire Maldarelli, Popular Science, 14 Feb. 2024 Her dismissal with prejudice means the case is over for good. Nancy Dillon, Rolling Stone, 13 Feb. 2024 In documents obtained by The Hollywood Reporter on Friday, the counsel of the family of the late Griselda Blanco dismissed the complaint with prejudice, which means the same claim can’t be brought back to court. Carly Thomas, The Hollywood Reporter, 9 Feb. 2024 Kendrick believes that eliminating these topics from being taught in our public schools will exacerbate discrimination and prejudice. Charlotte Observer, 8 Feb. 2024 The example set by the Harlem Hellfighters — which spent more time in continuous combat than any other American unit — directly challenged those prejudices. Molly Guthrey, Twin Cities, 7 Feb. 2024 The running gag of that book was applying Victorian diction and prejudices to high-tech things. Matteo Wong, The Atlantic, 6 Feb. 2024 And The Foundation to Combat Antisemitism, an advocacy group backed by New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, will run a 30-second spot that urges people to stand up against prejudice and hate toward Jews. Brian Steinberg, Variety, 5 Feb. 2024
Verb
The city of Montgomery, which continues to provide Barber’s legal defense, has argued successfully that releasing the video would prejudice any future jury. Umar Farooq, ProPublica, 28 Dec. 2023 The justices agreed that the removal of juror No. 5 was unfounded and had prejudiced the outcome of the case. Thomas Curwen, Los Angeles Times, 13 Dec. 2023 But, Weinstein asserted, because of the nature of rap music, with its violence and extreme language, the lyrics will unfairly prejudice the jury. CBS News, 10 Nov. 2023 The former president's language, prosecutors argued, has the possibility of prejudicing the trial — which Chutkan has said will begin on March 4, 2024 — and should be restrained as a result. Robert Legare, CBS News, 26 Oct. 2023 Courts have held that orders barring participants from certain public comments are constitutional to avoid prejudicing a jury, citing the public interest in the fair and impartial administration of trials. Charlie Savage, New York Times, 22 Sep. 2023 Opponents of the bill, including the California Catholic Conference, said the proposals were prejudiced, in favor of one reproductive health choice over another. Mackenzie Mays, Los Angeles Times, 21 Sep. 2023 Courts Veteran San Diego defense lawyer collapses during court argument, later dies June 13, 2023 Fraser ruled that Cline and Cutter had proven McInnis was prejudiced by the 27 years that passed between the crime and McInnis being charged. Alex Riggins, San Diego Union-Tribune, 19 Aug. 2023 Or, for that matter, prejudice the prosecution's position. Dory Jackson, Peoplemag, 17 Aug. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'prejudice.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Noun and Verb

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

First Known Use

Noun

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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

Dictionary Entries Near prejudice

Cite this Entry

“Prejudice.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/prejudice. Accessed 2 Mar. 2024.

Kids Definition

prejudice

1 of 2 noun
prej·​u·​dice ˈprej-əd-əs How to pronounce prejudice (audio)
1
: injury or damage to a case at law or to one's rights
2
a
: a favoring or dislike of something without good reason
b
: unfriendly feelings directed against an individual, a group, or a race

prejudice

2 of 2 verb
prejudiced; prejudicing
1
: to cause damage to (as a case at law)
newspaper stories prejudiced the murder case
2
: to cause to have prejudice : bias
the incident prejudiced them against that company
Etymology

Noun

Middle English prejudice "injury from a judgment, an opinion formed before knowing the facts," from early French prejudice (same meaning), from Latin praejudicium "previous judgment," from prae- "pre-, before" and judicium "judgment," from judic-, judex "judge," from jus "right, law" and dicere "to say" — related to judge, just

Legal Definition

prejudice

1 of 2 noun
prej·​u·​dice ˈpre-jə-dəs How to pronounce prejudice (audio)
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
3
a
: 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 seR. 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

2 of 2 transitive verb
prejudiced; prejudicing
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
Etymology

Noun

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

More from Merriam-Webster on prejudice

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