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 The vision of heroism that these directors present bleaches the past of its presumptions and prejudices, cruelties and pettiness, but also of its genuine humanity, courage, and tragedy. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, "The Beauty of Sam Mendes’s “1917” Comes at a Cost," 7 Jan. 2020 There are the prejudices, hatreds and stereotypes that, arguably, are codified in these laws. Naresh Fernandes, Quartz India, "India risks repeating the shameful 1960s internment of its Chinese community," 6 Jan. 2020 Jenkins’s film spends most of its running time examining how social realities such as addiction, prejudice, and fear can keep people apart, and how small acts of empathy and understanding can suddenly, magnetically unite them. David Sims, The Atlantic, "The 10 Best Movie Scenes of the 2010s," 31 Dec. 2019 Gad feels that the disease slowly erased her great aunt’s prejudices, at last allowing her to develop a relationship with the woman who had shunned her in her youth. Sergio Carmona, sun-sentinel.com, "Mandel JCC Book Festival showcasing author presentations in Palm Beach County," 22 Nov. 2019 Scherer wrote that a defendant must show substantial misconduct or actual prejudice to remove a prosecutor, which defense attorneys didn’t. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Judge: Florida school shooting prosecutor won’t be removed," 26 Sep. 2019 Native American prejudice from her father’s parents. Michael Brendan Dougherty, National Review, "Lying Liz," 17 Jan. 2020 Because of this prejudice, people might be reluctant to identify themselves as atheists, even on anonymous questionnaires. Jordan W. Moon, Quartz, "Intense prejudice exists against atheists in the US," 28 Dec. 2019 Civil rights advocates say that Abdullah was unfairly targeted because of anti-black and anti-Muslim prejudice. Niraj Warikoo, Detroit Free Press, "FBI's killing of Detroit Muslim leader 10 years ago haunts communities," 28 Oct. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The growth of dogs in legal areas is happening despite reports that some judges and defense attorneys have raised concerns about dogs in courtrooms, potentially bringing bias against the defendant or prejudicing juries. Christina Hall, Detroit Free Press, "Goldendoodle rescued from hoarding has new purpose in Macomb Co. Juvenile Court," 21 Jan. 2020 This is in an effort to safeguard against the potential for evidence to prejudice a jury into automatically handing down a ‘guilty’ verdict. Brianna Provenzano, refinery29.com, "This One Rule Could Determine Harvey Weinstein’s Conviction," 10 Jan. 2020 In a few words Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. National Geographic, "How can travelers be as resilient as our planet?," 21 Jan. 2020 However, earlier this month, a Tennessee judge ruled that Hall failed to prove the juror was prejudiced against him. Fox News, "Tennessee High Court refuses to re-examine blind death-row prisoner's bias request," 4 Dec. 2019 Those messages not only sparked an official ethics investigation but also fueled accusations from the president and his supporters that the federal agency’s probe into the Trump campaign was prejudiced against him. BostonGlobe.com, "‘‘I’m done being quiet,’’ the tweet read.," 2 Dec. 2019 Many unions were prejudiced against letting in black people. Olivia B. Waxman, Time, "‘It Just Goes On and On’: How the Race Riots of 1919's ‘Red Summer’ Helped Shape a Century of American History," 29 July 2019 Chief justice John Roberts didn’t chime in during Clement’s arguments and spoke only late in the city’s presentation to ask if there was any way gun owners could in the future be prejudiced by the past law’s existence and to inquire about mootness. Ephrat Livni, Quartz, "Justices fire warning shots at Supreme Court hearing on gun rights," 2 Dec. 2019 Those messages not only sparked an official ethics investigation but also fueled accusations from the president and his supporters that the federal agency's probe into the Trump campaign was prejudiced against him. Allyson Chiu, Anchorage Daily News, "Ex-FBI lawyer Lisa Page ends silence, slams Trump’s ‘sickening’ attacks," 2 Dec. 2019

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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Learn More about prejudice

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

13 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Prejudice.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/prejudices. Accessed 19 Feb. 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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