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Microaggression is a word that was added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2015. We will examine the definition of microaggression, where this term came from and some examples of its use in sentences.

A microaggression is a question, statement or other action that is subtly discriminatory.  A microaggression is demeaning and marginalizes the person or group in question. A microaggression may be intentional or unintentional, and some believe that care must be taken in identifying microaggression. The first known use of the word microaggression occurred in 1970 in the academic journal Universitas in the article Reports on Crimes of Aggression by W. Hallermann. The term was popularized by a Harvard professor of psychiatry, Chester M. Pierce. Microaggression may refer to offensive actions against others because of race, economic class, age, sex and other minority classifications.  The word microaggression is derived from the Latin word aggressionem, meaning an attack, and the prefix micro- which means small, reduced, magnifying.


A Michigan public high school mathematics teacher challenged the ban on students wearing hats and hoodies in the classroom as a “microaggression,” in an article for an “enlightened masculinity” blog. (The Washington Free Beacon)

When encountered frequently over long stretches of time, microaggressions exert a detrimental impact on recipients, contributing to low self-esteem and, in some cases, clinical levels of depression, anxiety and other mental health problems. (Scientific American)

From the land that irony forgot—which earlier gave us microaggressions and trigger warnings—comes a new and surprising movement, this time to combat civility. (The Canada Free Press)

The new activist culture calls for colleges to confront the small, perhaps unintended slights known as microaggressions, to provide trigger warnings for course material that might offend or upset, and to become safe spaces where ideas go unchallenged. (The Chronicle of Higher Education)