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[ey-zhuh n, ey-shuh n] /ˈeɪ ʒən, ˈeɪ ʃən/
of, belonging to, or characteristic of Asia or its inhabitants.
a native or inhabitant of Asia, or a person of Asian descent.
Origin of Asian
1555-65; < Latin Asiānus < Greek Asiānós. See Asia, -an
Related forms
half-Asian, adjective, noun
non-Asian, adjective, noun
pro-Asian, adjective
Can be confused
Asian, Asiatic, Oriental (see usage note at the current entry)
Usage note
Asian is the most commonly used term referring to people in or from Asia, especially East Asia. In American English, Oriental as a noun or adjective applied to people is outdated and has become a sensitive term to be avoided. It is associated with a bygone era in which Asians had subordinate status and their culture was perceived as strange and exotic. Also, the origin of the term Oriental represents a Eurocentric view of geography, since the Orient, or East, is east of Europe.
However, Oriental is a neutral, inoffensive term when used as an adjective describing Asian culture or things from Asia. Similarly, the term Asiatic is usually offensive when referring to people, but neutral when referring to Asian culture, animals, etc. Though Asian is an acceptable ethnic designation in most contexts, it is best to be as specific as possible, rather than to group all Asians into a single cultural identity. In general, people of South, Southeast, and East Asian origin prefer to be identified by their country of origin: for example, Indian, Pakistani, Indonesian, Korean, Japanese, or Chinese. The people of the Middle or Near East and Polynesia are not referred to as Asian. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for Asian
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • There was also an Australian opal and an Asian emerald, the latter greener than the grass.

    The Paliser case Edgar Saltus
  • We were close upon the Asian shore, and I put the helm down to go about.

    Paul Patoff

    F. Marion Crawford
  • The Asian rivers that are important highways of commerce are few in number.

    Commercial Geography

    Jacques W. Redway
  • These ports are destined to become the chief American ports in the Asian trade.

    Commercial Geography

    Jacques W. Redway
  • Malagigi sat repenting in his Asian grotto, like S. Gerolamo in the pictures.

    Castellinaria Henry Festing Jones
British Dictionary definitions for Asian


/ˈeɪʃən; ˈeɪʒən/
of or relating to Asia or to any of its peoples or languages
(Brit) of or relating to natives of the Indian subcontinent or any of their descendants, esp when living in Britain
a native or inhabitant of Asia or a descendant of one
(Brit) a native of the Indian subcontinent or a descendant of one
Usage note
To refer to someone from the Indian subcontinent as an Asian is potentially offensive and should be avoided. If you are talking about one specific group, it is better to say so, for instance people of Indian descent
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for Asian

late 14c., "inhabitant of Asia (Minor)," from Latin Asianus (adjective and noun, "belonging to the province of Asia;" "an inhabitant of Asia"), from Greek Asianos, from Asia (see Asia). Ousted Asiatic as the preferred term in Britain c.1950.

The term "Asiatic" has come to be regarded with disfavour by those to whom it is applied, and they feel entitled to be brought into line with usage in regard to Europeans, Americans and Australians. ["Times Literary Supplement," Feb. 6, 1953]
As an adjective in English, by 1690s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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