prejudice

[ prej-uh-dis ]
/ ˈprɛdʒ ə dɪs /

noun

an unfavorable opinion or feeling formed beforehand or without knowledge, thought, or reason.
any preconceived opinion or feeling, either favorable or unfavorable.
unreasonable feelings, opinions, or attitudes, especially of a hostile nature, regarding an ethnic, racial, social, or religious group.
such attitudes considered collectively: The war against prejudice is never-ending.
damage or injury; detriment: a law that operated to the prejudice of the majority.

verb (used with object), prej·u·diced, prej·u·dic·ing.

to affect with a prejudice, either favorable or unfavorable: His honesty and sincerity prejudiced us in his favor.

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Idioms for prejudice

    without prejudice, Law. without dismissing, damaging, or otherwise affecting a legal interest or demand.

Origin of prejudice

1250–1300; Middle English <Old French <Latin praejūdiciumprejudgment, originally preliminary or previous judicial inquiry, equivalent toprae-pre- + jūdicium legal proceedings, judging (jūdic-, stem of jūdexjudge + -ium-ium)

synonym study for prejudice

2. See bias.

OTHER WORDS FROM prejudice

prej·u·diced·ly, adverbprej·u·dice·less, adjectivenon·prej·u·diced, adjectivequa·si-prej·u·diced, adjective

WORDS THAT MAY BE CONFUSED WITH prejudice

prejudiced , prejudicial.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020

VOCAB BUILDER

What does prejudice mean?

Prejudice is a bias or a preconceived opinion, idea, or belief about something.

When you act based on prejudice, you make up your mind about something and make generalizations about it before fully knowing about it. Though a prejudice can be positive, the word most often refers to unfair and strongly held negative judgments—especially hostile judgments about certain people.

Prejudice can refer to a specific instance of such a belief, as in He clearly has a prejudice against people of color, or such beliefs collectively, as in We need to eliminate prejudice from society. 

Prejudice against people can be based on many parts of their identity, including race, ethnicity, religion, gender or gender identity, sexuality, and language. Such prejudices often create stereotypes about members of such groups.

A common and widespread form of prejudice is racism, in which a person believes in the superiority of what they consider to be their own “race” over others. This most often takes the form of believing that those with other skin colors—especially darker skin colors—are inferior physically, intellectually, morally, and/or culturally, and mistreating and discriminating against them because of this. However, the word racism is often used to refer to more than just a prejudice or an active hatred but to a system of oppression based on such prejudice (often called systemic racism or institutional racism).

Someone who has a prejudice against others can be described as prejudiced. Unfair treatment based on prejudice or causing prejudice can be described as prejudicial.

Less commonly, the word prejudice can also be used as a verb meaning to cause to be prejudiced against someone or something, as in Bad press has prejudiced many voters against the candidate.

Where does prejudice come from?

The first records of the word prejudice come from the second half of the 1200s. It comes from the Latin praejūdicium, a term that means “prejudgement” and was originally used in the context of law. The prefix pre- means “before,” and the second part of the word derives from the Latin jūdex, which means “judge” and is the basis of many law-related words, such as judicial.

When you hold a prejudice against someone, you prejudge them—you make up your mind about what they’re like before you even know them. Some people who hold a prejudice against a group have never even met a member of that group. In this way, prejudice is often a failure to treat people as individuals. Though prejudice is often a personal belief, the prevalence of such beliefs can and does form the basis of systemic oppression.

Prejudice is often the reason that certain groups are marginalized (treated as inferior and less important and pushed to the edges of society) and discriminated against. Different forms of prejudice often have specific names, such racism, colorism, misogyny, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, and ageism.

Despite its association with such forms of intolerance, the word prejudice is also commonly used in a more general way, as in I didn’t expect the movie to be that good—I guess I just have a prejudice against romantic comedies. A notable use of the word prejudice in literature is in the title of the Jane Austen novel Pride and Prejudice.

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What are some other forms related to prejudice?

What are some synonyms for prejudice?

What are some words that share a root or word element with prejudice

 

What are some words that often get used in discussing prejudice?

 

How is prejudice used in real life?

Prejudice is most often used in a serious way to refer to hatred of certain types of people.

 

 

Try using prejudice!

Which of the following words is NOT a synonym for prejudice?

A. bigotry
B. intolerance
C. bias
D. acceptance

Example sentences from the Web for prejudice

British Dictionary definitions for prejudice

prejudice
/ (ˈprɛdʒʊdɪs) /

noun

verb (tr)

to cause to be prejudiced
to disadvantage or injure by prejudice

Word Origin for prejudice

C13: from Old French préjudice, from Latin praejūdicium a preceding judgment, disadvantage, from prae before + jūdicium trial, sentence, from jūdex a judge
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 prejudice

prejudice

A hostile opinion about some person or class of persons. Prejudice is socially learned and is usually grounded in misconception, misunderstanding, and inflexible generalizations. In particular, African-Americans have been victims of prejudice on a variety of social, economic, and political levels. (See civil rights movement and segregation.)

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.