ra·​cial | \ˈrā-shəl \

Definition of racial 

1 : of, relating to, or based on a race a racial minority

2 : existing or occurring between races racial equality

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Other Words from racial

racially \ˈrā-​shə-​lē \ adverb

Synonyms & Antonyms for racial


ethnic, ethnical, tribal



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Examples of racial in a Sentence

What is your racial identity? There was racial tension on campus.

Recent Examples on the Web

Her comments raised memories of Mississippi’s battles over racial segregation and voting rights. Ken Thomas, WSJ, "Republican Hyde-Smith Beats Democrat Espy in Mississippi Senate Runoff," 27 Nov. 2018 The Koch brothers do not get racial or anti-semitic attacks. Eric Johnson, Recode, "It’s time for Facebook’s board to step up," 23 Nov. 2018 The Dan Ryan Expressway -- a freeway that incorporates portions of Interstates 90 and 94 -- was chosen for its historical significance, having been a symbol of racial segregation in the 1960s. Fox News, "Major Chicago freeway shut down by anti-violence protesters," 10 Aug. 2018 An angry mob spotted the blond and blue-eyed Biehl, and saw her as a symbol of apartheid, South Africa’s institutionalized racial segregation that began in 1948 and ended in 1994. Makeda Easter, latimes.com, "An American scholar was killed in South Africa nearly 25 years ago. Today her legacy lives on through music," 4 July 2018 Supporters of the proposed law say letting landlords blackball people who qualify for federal vouchers is partly responsible for San Diego’s stark racial segregation, with minorities dominating southern areas and whites dominant in northern areas. David Garrick, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Proposed San Diego law would prohibit landlord bias against people with federal housing vouchers," 2 July 2018 Definers, the Republican strategy group Facebook contracted pushed reporters to look into its detractors on the left and the right, including online racial justice group Color of Change and pro-Trump social media stars Diamond and Silk. Emily Stewart, Vox, "Facebook won’t fix itself," 15 Nov. 2018 But there’s no question poor transit access depressed turnout, especially across socioeconomic and racial lines. Patrick Sisson, Curbed, "Free rides to the polls test the transit and turnout connection," 1 Nov. 2018 The Racist History of Blackface in America Critics of Kelly’s comments brought up the brutal racial history of blackface in the U.S. The National Museum of African-American History & Culture offers a comprehensive look at that racist history. Megan Friedman, Good Housekeeping, "Here's Everything You Need to Know About Megyn Kelly’s NBC Exit," 26 Oct. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'racial.' 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 racial

1854, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Statistics for racial

Last Updated

3 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for racial

The first known use of racial was in 1854

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More Definitions for racial



English Language Learners Definition of racial

: relating to or based on race

: existing or happening between people of different races


ra·​cial | \ˈrā-shəl \

Kids Definition of racial

: of, relating to, or based on race a racial group

Other Words from racial

racially adverb


ra·​cial | \ˈrā-shəl \

Medical Definition of racial 

: of, relating to, or based on a race

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More from Merriam-Webster on racial

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with racial

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for racial

Spanish Central: Translation of racial

Nglish: Translation of racial for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of racial for Arabic Speakers

Comments on racial

What made you want to look up racial? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


the figure or shape of a crescent moon

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