Discrimination Definition. What is Discriminate?


Discrimination Definition

Discriminate is a verb which is all about differences. It means to see, notice, or focus on the differences between two or more things.

For example:

  • Dogs can discriminate between happy and angry tones in your voice.

Because of this, discriminate is also used to make biases against various categories of things or people. This is most often the case with personal categories such as gender, age, race, and religion.


  • It is illegal for businesses to discriminate between genders when hiring new staff.


See how Fred and Sarah talk about discriminating in the workplace.

Fred: Hi Sarah, how’s your hunt for a new job going?

Sarah: Hi Fred. It’s harder than I thought.

Fred: Why is that?

Sarah: So far, three of the political newspapers I asked for a job said they didn’t want female journalists.

Fred: That’s crazy! I can’t believe they would discriminate against women like that. It’s illegal, you know.

Sarah: I know. But what can I do?

Fred: Well, you could contact a lawyer. Those newspapers are not supposed to do that.

Sarah: Thanks, Fred. Maybe I’ll do that. Or, maybe I’ll write an article about my experience and send it to all the other newspapers. It may even help me to find a job.

Fred: That’s a great idea. I can help you to build a list of newspapers to send it to once you’re done.



The full noun form of discriminate is discrimination, meaning the unfair treatment of different groups of people and things depending on factors such as age, sex, and race. Here’s an example sentence:

  • International gay pride parades are a fun way to fight the discrimination of sexual orientation.

Discrimination is seen as an ongoing worldwide human rights issue. People fighting against discrimination believe that we should see all people, from all groups, as the same and give them the same treatment.


Types of Discrimination

There are countless ways a person can discriminate against another. However, they all fall under two types: direct or indirect discrimination.

1. Direct Discrimination

Direct discrimination is when one person acts negatively with another person because of that person’s gender, age, sexual orientation, religion, or otherwise. Direct discrimination is most commonly caused by people having certain negative thoughts or beliefs about people from that category.

For example:

Bill and Sarah are brother and sister. Bill doesn’t like Sarah’s new friend, Jeff, because Jeff is gay. Bill tries to stop Sarah from seeing Jeff. Bill believes that being gay is not natural or a good thing to be.

Sarah and Jeff try to talk to Bill, to encourage him to change his mind about gay people. After seeing what a wonderful person Jeff is, Bill realizes that gay people can be great too.


2. Indirect Discrimination

Indirect discrimination is when certain unfair rules or conditions are in place which would restrict a person from a particular group from engaging in certain activities. These are often seen in workplaces and public businesses.

For example:

A company may require all women to wear a specific uniform with nothing covering their hair. However, this workplace condition would indirectly discriminate against any women would wear hijabs (a type of cloth to cover one’s hair) for religious reasons.


Can you think of any other words that have to do with discrimination? Or have your own story about discrimination? Leave them in the comments section below.


Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments