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

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 See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Early in the six-hour hearing Tuesday, 3rd District Court Judge William K. Kendall dismissed one of the counts without prejudice after a witness who was expected to testify did not show up. Paighten Harkins, The Salt Lake Tribune, 26 July 2022 In April, Finkelberg requested that the court dismiss the case without prejudice, leaving the door open for the refiling that just occurred. Los Angeles Times, 21 July 2022 He was charged in 2020 in Indiana with leaving the scene of an accident; the case was dismissed without prejudice last month. Bruce Vielmetti, Journal Sentinel, 12 July 2022 In court documents obtained by Rolling Stone, Jane Doe asked a judge in late June for the case to be dismissed without prejudice. Jon Blistein, Rolling Stone, 8 July 2022 According to Karla Navarrete-Contreras, an MCAO spokesperson, the motion to dismiss was filed without prejudice, meaning the office can re-file charges against Dunton once more information is collected. Laura Daniella Sepulveda, The Arizona Republic, 7 July 2022 The spectacular suits were created to conceal race and identity, forcing the viewer to look without prejudice. Funmi Fetto, Vogue, 6 July 2022 The company even filed a motion for the court to dismiss the lawsuit with prejudice. Morayo Ogunbayo, ajc, 15 July 2022 What’s more, in December, the company’s lawyers filed a motion asking U.S. District Court Judge Jon S. Tigar to dismiss the suit with prejudice. Tim Carman, Washington Post, 12 July 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The trial judge ruled that the essay would not be permitted as evidence because it was written years ago as part of a writing seminar and could unfairly prejudice the jury. Raja Razek And Faith Karimi, CNN, 13 June 2022 The trial judge ruled that the essay would not be permitted as evidence because it was written years ago as part of a writing seminar and could unfairly prejudice the jury. Raja Razek And Faith Karimi, CNN, 13 June 2022 Maryland rules for attorney conduct limit what lawyers are allowed to say about a case in public, barring them from making statements that could prejudice a judge or jury. Alex Mann, Baltimore Sun, 16 June 2022 The trial judge ruled that the essay would not be permitted as evidence because it was written years ago as part of a writing seminar and could unfairly prejudice the jury. Raja Razek And Faith Karimi, CNN, 13 June 2022 The trial judge ruled that the essay would not be permitted as evidence because it was written years ago as part of a writing seminar and could unfairly prejudice the jury. Raja Razek And Faith Karimi, CNN, 13 June 2022 References to Shoffner’s prior conviction were supposed to have been redacted from the video so as not to prejudice the jury, but because of an apparent mix-up the original, unredacted recording was played in court. al, 9 June 2022 Prosecutors brought the request for a gag order, accusing the defense of creating a one-side public discourse that would prejudice the city and potential jurors against the prosecution. Alex Mann, Baltimore Sun, 7 June 2022 The trial judge ruled that the essay would not be permitted as evidence because it was written years ago as part of a writing seminar and could unfairly prejudice the jury. Faith Karimi, CNN, 26 May 2022 See More

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.

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

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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Dictionary Entries Near prejudice

prejudicative

prejudice

prejudiced

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Statistics for prejudice

Last Updated

29 Jul 2022

Cite this Entry

“Prejudice.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/prejudice. Accessed 14 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for prejudice

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

More from Merriam-Webster on prejudice

Nglish: Translation of prejudice for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of prejudice for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about prejudice

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