[ prej-uh-dish-uhl ]
/ ˌprɛdʒ əˈdɪʃ əl /
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causing prejudice or disadvantage; detrimental.
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Origin of prejudicial

First recorded in 1375–1425; late Middle English, from Late Latin praejūdiciālis; see prejudice, -al1

OTHER WORDS FROM prejudicial


prejudiced, prejudicial
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What does prejudicial mean?

Prejudicial means based on or causing prejudice—a bias or a preconceived opinion, idea, or belief about something.

Describing actions as prejudicial often implies that the person doing them has made up their mind about something and has made 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 prejudicial beliefs often create stereotypes about members of such groups.

Describing something as prejudicial often implies that it’s detrimental—meaning it causes harm. Most forms of discrimination are prejudicial.

Another adjective form of the word prejudice is prejudiced, which is used to describe someone who has a prejudice against others.

Example: This is a clear case of prejudicial treatment—email records show that she was not considered for the job solely because she is Black.

Where does prejudicial come from?

The first records of the word prejudicial come from around the 1300s. Its base word, prejudice, 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.

Prejudicial treatment involves prejudging someone—making 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.

Prejudicial beliefs are 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.

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What are some other forms related to prejudicial?

  • prejudicially (adverb)
  • nonprejudicial (adjective)
  • prejudice (noun, verb)

What are some synonyms for prejudicial?

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


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


How is prejudicial used in real life?

Prejudicial is typically used in a serious context involving prejudice against certain types of people.



Try using prejudicial!

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

A. bigoted
B. intolerant
C. biased
D. accepting

How to use prejudicial in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for prejudicial

/ (ˌprɛdʒʊˈdɪʃəl) /

causing prejudice; detrimental or damaging

Derived forms of prejudicial

prejudicially, adverb
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