Definition 2024





ethnicity (plural ethnicities)

  1. The common characteristics of a group of people, especially regarding ancestry, culture, language or national experiences.
    • 2012 March-April, Jan Sapp, “Race Finished”, in American Scientist, volume 100, number 2, page 164:
      Few concepts are as emotionally charged as that of race. The word conjures up a mixture of associations—culture, ethnicity, genetics, subjugation, exclusion and persecution. But is the tragic history of efforts to define groups of people by race really a matter of the misuse of science, the abuse of a valid biological concept?
  2. An ethnic group.
  3. (casual, euphemistic) Race; common ancestry.

Usage notes

In common use, ethnicity is used as a euphemism for the sensitive term race, but with identical meaning: group ancestry and physical characteristics, such as skin color, as in “ethnic Chinese”. In careful use, it refers to any common characteristic or identity, particularly linguistic, national, regional, or religious groups, and can cut across race, such as Hispanic/Latino; or be a subgroup of a racial group, as in German Texan, Chinese Indonesians, Nuyorican (New York Puerto Rican), etc.

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