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ethnic cleansing

Definition of Ethnic Cleansing

(noun) A type of expulsion, in which an ethnic or religious group is forced to leave an area by another ethnic or religious group, in order to create a “pure” and homogenized area.

Ethnic Cleansing Pronunciation

Pronunciation Usage Guide

Syllabification: eth·nic cleans·ing

Audio Pronunciation

– American English
– British English

International Phonetic Alphabet

  • American English – /ˈɛθnɪk ˈklɛnzɪŋ/
  • British English – /ˈɛθnɪk ˈklɛnzɪŋ/

Usage Notes

  • Plural: ethnic cleansings or ethnic cleanses
  • The terms “genocide” and “ethnic cleansing” are similar, however the distinction between the two is the aim of genocide is to murder a group and the aim of ethnic cleansing is to systematically remove a group. Additionally, genocide can be a part of the ethnic cleansing process. However, this distinction is not universally agreed upon in academia or lay usage.
  • Also called ethnic purification.

Additional Information

Related Terms


Works Consulted

Ferrante, Joan. 2011. Seeing Sociology: An Introduction. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Henslin, James M. 2012. Sociology: A Down-to-Earth Approach. 10th ed. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

Macionis, John, and Kenneth Plummer. 2012. Sociology: A Global Introduction. 4th ed. Harlow, England: Pearson Education.

Oxford University Press. (N.d.) Oxford Dictionaries. (https://www.oxforddictionaries.com/).

Wikipedia contributors. (N.d.) Wiktionary, The Free Dictionary. Wikimedia Foundation. (http://en.wiktionary.org).

Cite the Definition of Ethnic Cleansing

ASA – American Sociological Association (5th edition)

Bell, Kenton, ed. 2015. “ethnic cleansing.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Retrieved November 15, 2019 (https://sociologydictionary.org/ethnic-cleansing/).

APA – American Psychological Association (6th edition)

ethnic cleansing. (2015). In K. Bell (Ed.), Open education sociology dictionary. Retrieved from https://sociologydictionary.org/ethnic-cleansing/

Chicago/Turabian: Author-Date – Chicago Manual of Style (16th edition)

Bell, Kenton, ed. 2015. “ethnic cleansing.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Accessed November 15, 2019. https://sociologydictionary.org/ethnic-cleansing/.

MLA – Modern Language Association (7th edition)

“ethnic cleansing.” Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Ed. Kenton Bell. 2015. Web. 15 Nov. 2019. <https://sociologydictionary.org/ethnic-cleansing/>.