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Alternative forms[edit]


From Middle English ethnik, from Latin ethnicus ("pagan", "heathen"), from Ancient Greek ἐθνικός (ethnikós, of or for a nation, heathen), from ἔθνος (éthnos, a company", later "a people or nation, heathens).


  • IPA(key): /ˈɛθ.nɪk/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ɛθnɪk


ethnic (comparative more ethnic, superlative most ethnic)

  1. Of or relating to a group of people having common racial, ancestral, national, religious or cultural origins.
    There are many ethnic Indonesians in the Netherlands
  2. Characteristic of a foreign or a minority group's culture.
    I like to eat ethnic food
  3. Representative of a folk or traditional mode of expression.
    • 2008, Ronald D. Cohen, A History of Folk Music Festivals in the United States[1]:
      Indeed, such ethnic music festivals were probably common throughout the country
    • 1990, European Review of Native American Studies Volumess 4-6[2]:
      contemporary artists are victims of the dichotomization of fine art and folk or ethnic art, where the latter must evince standardized techniques of simplicity, naivete, naturalism, and exoticism.
    • 2012, Michael Campbell., Popular Music in America: The Beat Goes On[3]:
      popular music is usually positioned between classical music on the one hand and folk or ethnic music on the other.
    • 2012, Kip Lornell., Exploring American Folk Music: Ethnic, Grassroots, and Regional Traditions[4]:
      Once you dig below the surface you discover folk, grassroots, and ethnic music throughout the United States
  4. (historical) Heathen, not Jewish, Christian, or Muslim.


Derived terms[edit]

Related terms[edit]


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.


ethnic (plural ethnics)

  1. An ethnic person, especially a foreigner or member of an immigrant community.
  2. (archaic) A heathen, a pagan.
    • 1611, The Holy Bible, [] (King James Version), London: [] Robert Barker, [], →OCLC, Preface ::
      ..for the learned know that even in St. Jerome's time, the consul of Rome and his wife were both Ethnics, and about the same time the greatest part of the senate also...
    • 1641, John Milton, Of Reformation in England:
      ...And the people of God, redeemed and washed with Christ's blood, and dignified with so many glorious titles of saints and sons in the Gospel, are now no better reputed than impure ethnics and lay dogs...
  3. (in classical scholarship) The demonym of an Ancient Greek city.
    • 2006. Cohen. The Hellenistic Settlements in Syria, the Red Sea Basin & North Africa, 151:
      "Coinage with the ethnic ΑΝΤΙΟΧΕΩΝ ΠΡΟΣ ΕΥΦΡΑΤΗΝ survives from the mid-second century A.D."


Further reading[edit]