white privilege

noun

plural white privileges
: the set of social and economic advantages that white people have by virtue of their race (see race entry 1 sense 1a) in a culture characterized by racial inequality
… by discussing the reality of white privilege, we're not negating or invalidating other hardships that may come with each individual's circumstances. Rather, we intend to shed light on the reality that white people are granted rights (whether they're subtle or obvious), immunities, and opportunities by their skin color, regardless of whether they asked for that privilege or not.Mehak Anwar
And here, in white racism, was a shame of truly epic proportions—the shame of white supremacy that for centuries so squeezed the world with violence and oppression that white privilege was made a natural law.Shelby Steele
also : a single such advantage
White privileges are the relative advantages racism affords to people identified as white, whether white people recognize them or deny them. To be white is to be afforded one's individuality. Afforded the presumption of innocence. Afforded the assumption of intelligence. Afforded empathy when crying or raging. Afforded disproportionate amounts of policy-making power. Afforded opportunity from a white network. Afforded wealth-building homes and resource-rich schools. Afforded the ability to vote quickly and easily. Ibram X. Kendi

Examples of white privilege in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Meanwhile, the girls deal with—among other afflictions—body-image issues, awful boyfriends, domineering mothers, and, of course, white privilege. Thomas Chatterton Williams, The Atlantic, 9 Feb. 2024 As The Center Square previously reported, DOD has funded drag shows, training for members on things like white privilege and pronoun usage, and more. Lily Larsen, Washington Examiner, 15 Jan. 2024 The essay discusses gun violence, Nashville protests, and white privilege. Emily Zemler, Rolling Stone, 9 Nov. 2023 Many in-flight squabbles are proxy battles over white privilege, male entitlement and the accommodation of mothers and children. Amanda Hess, New York Times, 6 Oct. 2023 Their ribald interactions prove genuinely funny at times, especially in a scene in which Xander takes his white privilege for granted while provoking a racist cop. Frank Scheck, The Hollywood Reporter, 18 Aug. 2023 As Floyd’s death triggered a summer of protest, Cooper’s video continued to have its own impact, sparking discussion about racial bias and white privilege. Times Staff, Los Angeles Times, 16 Aug. 2023 Because, for me and a lot of Black people, that was an example of white privilege. Curtis Bunn, NBC News, 9 Aug. 2023 As that incident triggered a long summer of protest, Cooper’s video continued to have its own impact, sparking discussion about racial bias, white privilege and the power of social media to expose stories of injustice. Martin Wolk, Los Angeles Times, 14 July 2023 See More

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

Word History

First Known Use

1818, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of white privilege was in 1818

Dictionary Entries Near white privilege

Cite this Entry

“White privilege.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/white%20privilege. Accessed 26 Feb. 2024.

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!