affirmative action

[ uh-fur-muh-tiv ak-shuhn ]
See synonyms for affirmative action on
  1. the encouragement of increased representation of women and minority-group members, especially in employment.

Origin of affirmative action

First recorded in 1960–65

Other words from affirmative action

  • af·firm·a·tive-ac·tion, adjective

Words Nearby affirmative action Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use affirmative action in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for affirmative action

affirmative action

  1. US a policy or programme designed to counter discrimination against minority groups and women in areas such as employment and education: Brit equivalent: positive discrimination

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

Cultural definitions for affirmative action

affirmative action

A term referring to various government policies that aim to increase the proportion of African-Americans, women, and other minorities in jobs and educational institutions historically dominated by white men. The policies usually require employers and institutions to set goals for hiring or admitting minorities.

Notes for affirmative action

Affirmative action has been extremely controversial. Supporters maintain that it is the only way to overcome the effects of past discrimination and promote integration. Critics dismiss it as “reverse discrimination,” denying opportunities to qualified whites and men. (See Bakke decision).

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.