AskDefine | Define indiscriminate

Dictionary Definition

indiscriminate adj
1 failing to make or recognize distinctions
2 not marked by fine distinctions; "indiscriminate reading habits"; "an indiscriminate mixture of colors and styles" [ant: discriminate]

User Contributed Dictionary




  1. Without care or making distinctions, thoughtless.
    How can anyone be so indiscriminate in making friends as he is?


Without care or making distinctions, thoughtless



indiscriminate p

Extensive Definition

In general, discrimination, in a non-legal sense, is the discernment of qualities and recognition of the differences between things. We all have the power of discrimination, which is essential for us to be able to make decisions and judgements about things.
This article focuses on discrimination in a legal sense, which is the prejudicial treatment of a person or a group of people based on certain characteristics. Discrimination on grounds such as race or religion, is generally illegal in most Western democracies, while discriminating between people on the grounds of merit is usually lawful. The latter is more commonly referred to as "differentiating." When unlawful discrimination takes place, it is often described as discrimination against a person or group of people.

U.S. Law

Unlawful discrimination can be characterized as direct or subtle. Direct discrimination involves treating someone less favorably because of their possession of an attribute (e.g., sex, age, race, religion, family status, national origin, military status, disability), compared with someone without that attribute in the same circumstances. An example of direct discrimination would be not offering a job to a woman because she is likely to take maternity leave whereas a man is not. Indirect or subtle discrimination involves setting a condition or requirement which a smaller proportion of those with the attribute are able to comply with, without reasonable justification. The case of Griggs v. Duke Power Company provides an example of indirect discrimination, where an aptitude test used in job applications was found "to disqualify Negroes at a substantially higher rate than white applicants".

Race discrimination

Racial discrimination differentiates between individuals on the basis of real and perceived racial differences, and has been official government policy in several countries, such as South Africa in the apartheid era, and the USA.
In the United States, racial profiling of minorities by law enforcement officials has been called racial discrimination. As early as 1865, the Civil Rights Act provided a remedy for intentional race discrimination in employment by private employers and state and local public employers. The Civil Rights Act of 1871 applies to public employment or employment involving state action prohibiting deprivation of rights secured by the federal constitution or federal laws through action under color of law. Title VII is the principal federal statute with regard to employment discrimination prohibiting unlawful employment discrimination by public and private employers, labor organizations, training programs and employment agencies based on race or color, religion, gender, and national origin. Title VII also prohibits retaliation against any person for opposing any practice forbidden by statute, or for making a charge, testifying, assisting, or participating in a proceeding under the statute. The Civil Rights Act of 1991 expanded the damages available in Title VII cases and granted Title VII plaintiffs the right to a jury trial. Title VII also provides that race and color discrimination against every race and color is prohibited.
In the UK the inquiry following the murder of Stephen Lawrence accused the police of institutional racism.
  • Weaver v NATFHE (now part of the UCU) Race/sex discrimination case. An Industrial (Employment) Tribunal in the UK decided that a trade union was justified in not assisting a Black woman member, complaining of racist/sexist harassment because the accused male would lose his job. The Employment Appeal Tribunal upheld the decision. Also known as the Bournville College Racial Harassment issue.

Age discrimination

Age discrimination is discrimination against a person or group on the grounds of age. Although theoretically the word can refer to the discrimination against any age group, age discrimination usually comes in one of three forms: discrimination against youth (also called adultism), discrimination against those 40 years old or older, and discrimination against elderly people.
In the United States, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act prohibits employment discrimination nationwide based on age with respect to employees 40 years of age or older. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act also addresses the difficulty older workers face in obtaining new employment after being displaced from their jobs, arbitrary age limits.
In many countries, companies more or less openly refuse to hire people above a certain age despite the increasing lifespans and average age of the population. The reasons for this range from vague feelings that younger people are more "dynamic" and create a positive image for the company, to more concrete concerns about regulations granting older employees higher salaries or other benefits without these expenses being fully justified by an older employees' greater experience.
Some people consider that teenagers and youth (around 15-25 years old) are victims of adultism, age discrimination framed as a paternalistic form of protection. In seeking social justice, they feel that it is necessary to remove the use of a false moral agenda in order to achieve agency and empowerment. This perspective is based on the grounds that youth should be treated more respectfully by adults and not as second-class citizens. Some suggest that social stratification in age groups causes outsiders to incorrectly stereotype and generalize the group, for instance that all adolescents are equally immature, violent or rebellious, listen to rock tunes and do drugs. Some have organized groups against age discrimination.
Ageism is the causal effect of a continuum of fears related to age. This continuum includes:
Related terms include:
  • Adultism: Also called adultarchy, adult privilege, and adultcentrism/adultocentrism, this is the wielding of authority over young people and the preference of adults before children and youth.
  • Jeunism: Also called "youthism" is the holding of beliefs or actions taken that preference 'younger' people before adults.

Sex discrimination

Sex discrimination is discrimination against a person or group on the basis of their sex or gender.
Currently, discrimination based on sex is defined as adverse action against another person, that would not have occurred had the person been of another sex. This is considered a form of prejudice and is illegal in certain enumerated circumstances in most countries.
Sexual discrimination can arise in different contexts. For instance an employee may be discriminated against by being asked discriminatory questions during a job interview, or because an employer did not hire, promote or wrongfully terminated an employee based on his or her gender, or employers pay unequally based on gender or sexually harass an employee. In the education setting there could be claims that a student was excluded from an educational program or opportunity due to his or her gender and a student can be sexually harassed. In the housing setting there could be claims that a person was refused negotiations on seeking a house, contracting/leasing a house or getting a loan based on his or her gender. Another setting where there is usually gender discrimination is when one is refused to extend his or her credit, refused approval of credit/loan process, and if there is a burden of unequal loan terms based on one’s gender.
Socially, sexual differences have been used to justify societies in which one sex or the other has been restricted to significantly inferior and secondary roles. While there are non-physical differences between men and women, there is little agreement as to what those differences are.
Unfair discrimination usually follows the gender stereotyping held by a society.
The United Nations had concluded that women often experience a "glass ceiling" and that there are no societies in which women enjoy the same opportunities as men. The term "glass ceiling" describes the process by which women are barred from promotion by means of an invisible barrier. In the United States, the Glass Ceiling Commission has stated that between 95 and 97 percent of senior managers in the country's biggest corporations are men.
Transgendered individuals, both male to female and female to male, often experience problems which often lead to dismissals, underachievement, difficulty in finding a job, social isolation, and, occasionally, violent attacks against them.


Language discrimination

People are sometimes subjected to different treatment because their preferred language is associated with a particular group, class or category. Commonly, the preferred language is just another attribute of separate ethnic groups.

"Reverse discrimination", "preferential treatment", and opponents of modern preferential programs

Reverse discrimination or affirmative action is a term used to describe discriminatory policies or acts that benefit a historically socio-politically non-dominant group (e.g. women, blacks etc), at the expense of a historically socio-politically dominant group (e.g. men, whites etc). Most academic and expert opponents of preferential policies that favor historically-discriminated groups, such as Carl Cohen, would avoid the term "reverse discrimination" on the grounds that "discrimination is discrimination" and that the label "reverse" is a misnomer (a point that experts on both sides of the issue generally agree with). Groups such as the American Civil Rights Institute, run by Ward Connerly, have opted for the more legally precise terms "race preference", "gender preference," or "preferential treatment" generally, since these terms are contained and defined within existing civil rights law, such as the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
In this vein, Ward Connerly has promoted and won a series of ballot initiatives in the states of California (California Proposition 209 (1996)), Washington (1998 - I-200), and Michigan (the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative - MCRI, or Proposal 2, 2006). California's initiative was co-authored by academics Tom Wood and Glynn Custred in the mid-1990s and was taken up by Connerly after he was appointed in 1994 by Governor Pete Wilson to the University of California Board of Regents. Each of the ballot initiatives have won, and Connerly plans what he calls a "Super-Tuesday" of five additional states in 2008. The language of these ballot initiatives all use the terms "preferential treatment" as their operative clauses.
Academics such as Cohen, who was a supporter of Michigan's Proposal 2, have argued that the term "affirmative action" should be defined differently than "race preference," and that while socio-economically based or anti-discrimination types of affirmative action should be permissible, those that give preference to individuals solely based on their race or gender should not be permitted. Cohen also helped find evidence in 1996 through the Freedom of Information Act that lead to the cases filed by Jennifer Gratz and Barbara Grutter against the University of Michigan for its undergraduate and law admissions policy - cases which were decided by the U.S. Supreme Court on June 23, 2003.
Bloggers and internet resources against preferential types of affirmative action include John Rosenberg's Discriminations, Tim Fay's, and Chetly Zarko's Power, Politics, & Money.

Disability discrimination

People with disabilities face discrimination in all levels of society. The attitude that disabled individuals are inferior to non-disabled individuals is called "ableism".
Chronic pain is a debilitating condition which is often neglected in modern society. According to the American Chiropractic Association, over 50% of all working US citizens complain of back pain each year. An estimated 80% of the population will experience back pain at some point in their life. Many times pain can become chronic and debilitating. Ergonomic seating and work environments are not only be a reasonable accommodation for those who suffer, they are also a preventative measure to counteract the soaring cost of medical treatment for pain conditions. Ergonomic seating in all public institutions would be a positive step to providing access to public services for all those who need it. In the United States, the Americans with Disabilities Act provides guidelines for providing wheelchair access for public institutions, but ergonomic devices for those who suffer from pain are something that has yet to be implemented. This is just one of many accessibility issues still faced by disabled individuals.
Disabled people may also face discrimination by employers. They may find problems with securing employment as their handicap can be seen as a risk to the company, and once in employment they may find they are overlooked for promotion opportunities. Similarly, if an employee becomes disabled while employed they may also find themselves being managed out the company by HR departments. Unsympathetic employers can make life very difficult for such employees and can often make their health problems worse. Disability discrimination laws mean that in theory the employee has a method of redress in such instances.



Social theories such as Egalitarianism claim that social equality should prevail. In some societies, including most developed countries, each individual's civil rights include the right to be free from government sponsored social discrimination. Taking into account the capacity to perceive pain and/or suffering that all animals have, 'abolitionist' or 'vegan' egalitarianism maintains that every individual, regardless their species, should have at least the basic right not to be an object. See also speciesism.

Conservative and "Anarcho"-Capitalist

In contrast, conservative writer and law professor Matthias Storme has claimed that the freedom of discrimination in human societies is a fundamental human right, or more precisely, the basis of all fundamental freedoms and therefore the most fundamental freedom. Author Hans-Hermann Hoppe, in an essay about his book Democracy: The God That Failed, asserts that a natural social order is characterized by increased discrimination.


indiscriminate in Arabic: تمييز
indiscriminate in Bulgarian: Дискриминация
indiscriminate in Catalan: Discriminació
indiscriminate in Czech: Diskriminace
indiscriminate in Danish: Diskrimination
indiscriminate in German: Diskriminierung
indiscriminate in Spanish: Discriminación
indiscriminate in Esperanto: Diskriminacio
indiscriminate in Persian: تبعیض
indiscriminate in French: Discrimination
indiscriminate in Korean: 차별
indiscriminate in Indonesian: Diskriminasi
indiscriminate in Italian: Discriminazione
indiscriminate in Hebrew: אפליה
indiscriminate in Georgian: დისკრიმინაცია
indiscriminate in Lithuanian: Diskriminacija
indiscriminate in Hungarian: Diszkrimináció
indiscriminate in Malay (macrolanguage): Diskriminasi
indiscriminate in Dutch: Discriminatie
indiscriminate in Japanese: 差別
indiscriminate in Polish: Dyskryminacja (psychologia społeczna)
indiscriminate in Portuguese: Discriminação
indiscriminate in Vlax Romani: Diskriminaciya
indiscriminate in Russian: Дискриминация
indiscriminate in Simple English: Discrimination
indiscriminate in Slovak: Diskriminácia (znevýhodňovanie)
indiscriminate in Slovenian: Diskriminacija
indiscriminate in Serbian: Дискриминација
indiscriminate in Finnish: Syrjintä
indiscriminate in Swedish: Diskriminering
indiscriminate in Ukrainian: Дискримінація
indiscriminate in Yiddish: דיסקרימינאציע
indiscriminate in Chinese: 歧視

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

aimless, amalgamated, ambiguous, ambivalent, amorphous, amphibious, assorted, blanket, blended, broad, capricious, careless, casual, causeless, chaotic, combined, complex, composite, compound, compounded, confused, conglomerate, dappled, designless, desultory, diffuse, disarranged, disarticulated, discontinuous, disjunct, disordered, disorganized, dispersed, disproportionate, driftless, dysteleological, eclectic, equivocal, erratic, extensive, far-embracing, far-extending, far-flung, far-flying, far-going, far-ranging, far-reaching, fifty-fifty, fitful, formless, frivolous, general, gratuitous, half-and-half, haphazard, heterogeneous, higgledy-piggledy, hit-or-miss, immethodical, imprudent, inchoate, incoherent, indiscreet, indiscriminating, indiscriminative, inexplicable, insensitive, intricate, ironic, irregular, jumbled, large-scale, liberal, many-sided, meaningless, medley, mindless, mingled, miscellaneous, misshapen, mixed, mixed-up, motley, multifaceted, multifarious, multinational, multiracial, nonjudgmental, nonsymmetrical, nonsystematic, nonuniform, orderless, patchy, planless, pluralistic, promiscuous, purposeless, random, scrambled, senseless, shallow, shapeless, spasmodic, sporadic, spot, stochastic, straggling, straggly, stray, superficial, sweeping, syncretic, systemless, tactless, thrown together, unaccountable, unarranged, unclassified, unconsidered, uncritical, uncriticizing, undemanding, undifferentiating, undirected, undiscerning, undiscreet, undiscriminated, undiscriminating, undiscriminative, undistinguishing, unexacting, unfastidious, ungraded, unjoined, unmethodical, unmeticulous, unmotivated, unordered, unorganized, unparticular, unplanned, unselective, unsorted, unsubtle, unsymmetrical, unsystematic, untactful, ununiform, vague, varied, wandering, wholesale, wide, wide-extended, wide-extending, wide-ranging, wide-reaching, wide-stretching, widespread
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