minority

minority
minority
1. Minority has meanings at the other end of the scale of magnitude from majority, and is likewise treated as a singular noun except when used with of and a plural noun, in which case it too is plural:

• Only a minority of Germans (around a third of the population according to American surveys carried out in 1945) were prepared to concede that the war was lost —I. Kershaw, 1989.

In one respect, however, minority has gone its own way, namely in its widespread current use referring to any relatively small group of people who differ from others in the society of which they are a part in race, ethnic origin, language, religion, political persuasion, sexual orientation, or other matters that give rise to questions of social treatment or discrimination:

• Flaubert always sides with minorities, with ‘the Bedouin, the Heretic, the philosopher, the hermit, the Poet’ —Julian Barnes, 1985

• Among specific measures provided for in the convention were the launch of at least one radio station and a television network broadcasting in minority languages —Keesings, 1990.

In this meaning minority has acquired some flexibility of use, giving rise to apparently paradoxical collocations such as growing or increasing minority (i.e. increasing in numbers and therefore becoming less rather than more truly a minority):

• Mixed race youngsters are the city's fastest-growing minority group —Express, 2007.

2. Running parallel to this, but in an opposite direction as regards meaning, has been the use of minority as a quasi-adjective meaning ‘of or for a minority’, often with a favourable sense as in minority interests or minority tastes (generally = more exclusive or intellectual):

• Drummond once told me that Radio 3 broadcasts to about 30 minority tastes, each of which is characterised by its intense dislike of the other 29 —Daily Telegraph, 1992.

An early exponent of the idea of minority culture was the Cambridge academic F. R. Leavis, whose influential book Mass Civilization and Minority Culture was published in 1930. It is noteworthy that this use of minority, in relation to culture, implies an element of superiority or privilege, whereas the use described above, in relation to social position, implies one of inferiority or deprivation.

Modern English usage. 2014.

Synonyms:

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  • Minority — may refer to: Contents 1 Law 2 Politics 3 Anthropology and language 4 Economy 5 Sociology …   Wikipedia

  • minority — mi·nor·i·ty n pl ties 1 a: the period before attainment of majority b: the state of being a minor 2: the smaller of two groups constituting a whole: as a: a group (as in a legislative body) having less than the number of votes necessary for… …   Law dictionary

  • minority — mi‧nor‧i‧ty I added this because majority is in. [maɪˈnɒrti ǁ mˈnɔːr , ˈnɑːr ] noun [singular] less than half of the people or things in a particular group: minority of • He insists that only a minority of workers at the factory want the union …   Financial and business terms

  • Minority — Single par Green Day extrait de l’album Warning: Sortie 31 octobre 2000 Enregistrement 2000 Durée 2:49 Genre Punk rock Format …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Minority — Mi*nor i*ty, n.; pl. {Minorities}. [Cf. F. minorit[ e]. See {Minor}, a. & n.] [1913 Webster] 1. The state of being a minor, or under age. [1913 Webster] 2. State of being less or small. [Obs.] Sir T. Browne. [1913 Webster] 3. The smaller number;… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Minority — «Minority» Sencillo de Green Day del álbum Warning: Formato CD Grabación 2000 Género(s) Pop punk Duración 2:49 …   Wikipedia Español

  • minority — (n.) 1530s, condition of being smaller, from M.Fr. minorité (15c.), or directly from M.L. minoritatem (nom. minoritas), from L. minor (see MINOR (Cf. minor) (adj.)). Meaning state of being under legal age is from 1540s; that of smaller number or… …   Etymology dictionary

  • minority — *infancy, nonage Antonyms: majority …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

  • minority — ► NOUN (pl. minorities) 1) the smaller number or part; a number or part representing less than half of the whole. 2) a relatively small group of people differing from the majority in race, religion, language, etc. 3) the state or period of being… …   English terms dictionary

  • minority — [mī nôr′ə tē, minôr′ə tē; mīnär′ə tē, minär′ə tē] n. pl. minorities [ML minoritas < L minor,MINOR] 1. the lesser part or smaller number; less than half of a total 2. a group, party, or faction with a smaller number of votes or adherents than… …   English World dictionary

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