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Alternative forms[edit]


From French ethnique, 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).



ethnic (comparative more ethnic, superlative most ethnic)

  1. Of or relating to a group of people having common racial, national, religious or cultural origins.
    There are many ethnic Indonesians in the Netherlands
  2. Belonging to a foreign culture.
    I like to eat ethnic food
  3. (historical) Heathen, not Judeo-Christian-Muslim.

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ethnic (plural ethnics)

  1. An ethnic person, notably said when a foreigner or member of an immigrant community.
  2. An ethnic minority.
  3. (archaic) A heathen, a pagan.
    • 1611, Bible (Authorized, or King James, Version), 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...
  4. (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."


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