see usage paragraph below: any one of the groups that humans are often divided into based on physical traits regarded as common among people of shared ancestry
It shall be an unlawful employment practice for an employer … to fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual, or otherwise to discriminate against any individual … because of such individual's race, color, religion, sex, or national origin …—Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, United States Code
… family trees made more complicated by the intersection of different races …—Michael A. Chaney
First, the [2020 US Census] question [about race] is based on how you identify. Second, the race categories generally reflect social definitions in the U.S. and are not an attempt to define race biologically, anthropologically, or genetically. We recognize that the race categories include racial and national origins and sociocultural groups.—United States Census Bureau
To the extent that economic opportunity is expanded, race relations are improved.—Tom McClintock
also: the fact of dividing people, or of people being divided, into such groups : categorization by race
The Army will remove photographs of candidates in promotion board hearings … as part of an effort to address why so many black officers are being passed over in favor of their white counterparts … . The removal of photos by the military's largest service is a tacit acknowledgment of how much race still plays a part in decisions about who should advance. —Helene Cooper
The U.S. is going through a social and political upheaval, offering an opportunity to undertake a necessary, hard look at the role of race in defining what kind of a nation the U.S. is now and has been historically. —William C. Danvers
Even when a new show promises to break new ground … we are forced to swallow more of the same—a general erasure or ignorance of race. —Roxane Gay
dated: a group of people sharing a common cultural, geographical, linguistic, or religious origin or background
The Yorkshire type had always been the strongest of the British strains; the Norwegian and the Dane were a different race from the Saxon.—Henry Adams
… this girl, Dolores by name, and a Catalonian by race …—Charlotte Brontë
archaic: the descendants of a common ancestor : a group sharing a common lineage
… by descent I am the head not only of my own race, which ends with me, but of the Haughton family, of which, though your line assumed the name, it was but a younger branch.—Edward Bulwer-Lytton
This forest was adjacent to the chief haunts of the MacGregors, or a particular race of them, known by the title of MacEagh …—Sir Walter Scott
: a group of living things considered as a category
… the whole race of mankind … stumbling and blundering along the path of life …—Anne Brontë
… Nan denounced the entire race of boys as "plaguey things."—Louisa May Alcott
… countless asters, … tansies, golden-rods, and the whole race of yellow flowers …—Henry David Thoreau
… full many a man loves his dog better than the rest of mankind, and so the devotion of the race of dogs finds return and recompense.—Wardon Allan Curtis
Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt star in a sci-fi thriller set in the near future, when an alien race has attacked Earth.—Barbara Vancheri
When the last century ended, humans could not even fly. In the 20th century, the human race went to the moon and began to explore the stars.—sfgate.com
And now I give my sensual race the rein …—William Shakespeare
Usage of Race
Sense 1a of this entry describes the word race as it is most frequently used: to refer to the various groups that humans are often divided into based on physical traits, these traits being regarded as common among people of a shared ancestry. This use of race dates to the late 18th century, and was for many years applied in scientific fields such as physical anthropology, with race differentiation being based on such qualities as skin color, hair form, head shape, and particular sets of cranial dimensions. Advances in the field of genetics in the late 20th century determined no biological basis for races in this sense of the word, as all humans alive today share 99.99% of their genetic material. For this reason, the concept of distinct human races today has little scientific standing, and is instead understood as primarily a sociological designation, identifying a group sharing some outward physical characteristics and some commonalities of culture and history.
: a competition between people, animals, vehicles, etc., to determine which one is the fastest : a contest of speed
runners in a race
a bicycle race
… only eight of the 26 cars that began the race were running at the end, through streets that were better suited to conveying rattletrap taxicabs than million-dollar race cars.—Sam Moses
: a contest or competition in which different people, groups, or teams try to win something or to do something first
a tight race for governor
the race to create a vaccine
a baseball pennant race
—often used figuratively to suggest that something (such as life itself) is like a contest or competition
He discussed terms for publishing his book. But over his face was that gossamery look of having dropped out of the race of progress, which made the vulgar city people feel they had won it over him …—D. H. Lawrence
… men in the race of life, sink from the high and generous ideals of youth to the gambler's code of the Bourse; and in all our Nation's striving is not the Gospel of Work befouled by the Gospel of Pay?—W. E. B. Du Bois
In contemporary middle-class American culture, parenting is seen as an awesome responsibility, an unforgiving vigil to keep the helpless infant from falling behind in the great race of life.—Steven Pinker
races plural: an event at which there is a series of horse races
a trip to the races
literary: a set course (such as the apparent movement of the sun along a path over the period of a day) or a duration of time
Till a sun whose race is ending / Sees the rival stars contending—Edward Bulwer-Lytton
If the midnight bell / Did with his iron tongue and brazen mouth / Sound on into the drowsy race of night—William Shakespeare
archaic: a person's progression through life or through a period in life
… voices from the great cloud of witnesses who ever surround us in the race of life.—Harriet Beecher Stowe
: a track or channel in which something rolls or slides
specifically: a groove for the balls in a ball bearing or rollers in a roller bearing
The bearing has already spalled which is why it's making noise. No … additive can fix that, nor can it remove the particles of bearing race and roller from the lube in your differential housing. —B. Howing
Eight horses will race for the cup.
That horse will never race again.
She's going to race the champion.
They raced each other home.
I'll race you to see who gets there first.
She races cars for a living.
The flood raced through the valley.
The truck's engine was racing.
The dog raced ahead of me. See More
Recent Examples on the Web
Together, the two race against time to reveal who is a songbird and who is a snake.—Christy Piña, The Hollywood Reporter, 23 Nov. 2023 That set off a corporate spending race as Google, Amazon, and other tech giants sped up their own AI projects and investments.—Laurent Belsie, The Christian Science Monitor, 22 Nov. 2023 Not an obvious choice The renowned economist, who is revered in D.C. circles, has a long history serving at the highest levels of government but is not an obvious choice for a board seat on the leading company in the AI race.—Paolo Confino, Fortune, 22 Nov. 2023 In November, voters will be asked to choose between the top two candidates in both races.—Erin B. Logan, Los Angeles Times, 22 Nov. 2023 Overjoyed, Lenny, as he’s often called, jumps up, throws open a curtain and then sprints out of his apartment to race, bathrobe flapping, into his dazzling, very public future as an American genius.—Manohla Dargis, New York Times, 22 Nov. 2023 As book bans rise, so do legislative measures to restrict school lessons on race, gender, American history, and LGBTQ+ people, according to PEN America.—Kalia Richardson, Rolling Stone, 22 Nov. 2023 The Wisconsin Supreme Court heard oral arguments for more than three hours Tuesday in a high-stakes voting rights case that could upend the state's election maps, put every member of the legislature up for reelection next year, and play a role in the 2024 presidential race.—Barnini Chakraborty, Washington Examiner, 21 Nov. 2023 But there was another notable outcome, liberals won a series of school board races in red and blue states alike.—CBS News, 12 Nov. 2023
The production opened just as thousands of families around the city have found themselves in the midst of the high school application process, racing toward the deadline on Dec. 1.—Ginia Bellafante, New York Times, 24 Nov. 2023 South Korea is also aiming to launch its first spy satellite into orbit by the end of this month, as the two countries race to develop their military capabilities in space.—Stella Kim, NBC News, 21 Nov. 2023 The logic goes: Suddenly increase the number of electrics on the road and charging companies will race to get their chargers into the ground.—Aarian Marshall, WIRED, 21 Nov. 2023 The Corvette and a silver Ford Mustang were believed to have been racing westbound on the highway when the Mustang cut off the Corvette, causing the Corvette to swerve and strike another car, troopers told the newspaper.—Stephen Sorace, Fox News, 19 Nov. 2023 Some kids will love racing them, others will make up stories around them, and still others might like to crash them.—Bridget Shirvell, Parents, 18 Nov. 2023 Over the course of the weekend, the competing cars will race past the iconic buildings on the famed Las Vegas Strip.—Charna Flam, Peoplemag, 18 Nov. 2023 As powerful railroad companies race to maximize profits through efficiency, safety is left behind.—Danelle Morton, ProPublica, 18 Nov. 2023 Because much of the course is open to traffic during the day, the FIA was not able to inspect the track and approve it for racing until early Thursday morning after the course had been closed overnight.—CBS News, 17 Nov. 2023 See More
These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'race.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.
Middle French, generation, from Old Italian razza
Middle English ras, from Old Norse rās; akin to Old English rǣs rush