Is there a word for "a person from another race"?

This question has three down-votes and was closed because "Questions that can be answered using commonly-available references are off-topic" and "Questions on choosing an ideal word or phrase must include information on how it will be used in order to be answered."

What type of commonly-available resource answers this question? It is not like a synonym request; you can't look up "of another race" in a thesaurus, and there are no general-reference "reverse dictionaries." I can understand downvoting this question for lack of research, even if I don't agree with it, but it does not seem "general-reference" to me and therefore, I don't think it should have been closed as off-topic. (I know that this close reason was technically changed from "general reference" for a reason, but in this case I don't see why more research is necessary for the question to be on-topic.)

And the question already has information about how it will be used. There are two example sentences, which have in fact been there since the question was first asked. This is good! I don't understand what more context is needed. The intended meaning seems pretty straightforward to me.

Am I missing something? What's going on here?

  • I am not the downvoter nor close-voter, but is there any other word or phrase than of (or from) another race? Reading the comments to the question, no word has been suggested other than foreign which is not the answer and some users seem to agree that there is no word for that.
    – user140086
    Commented Feb 7, 2016 at 9:41
  • 2
    @Rathony: I can't think of any, and I don't know where I would look to find out. That's exactly why I don't think it's general reference.
    – herisson
    Commented Feb 7, 2016 at 9:43
  • I'd seen the question and tried to think about an answer. I don't think it is a GR one, but I doubt there is a term meaning "from another race". Anyway I voted to reopen
    – user66974
    Commented Feb 7, 2016 at 9:43
  • 2
    @Josh61: Oh, it's not my question actually. Just one I was wondering about. Thank you!
    – herisson
    Commented Feb 7, 2016 at 9:44
  • 7
    +1 for thinking differently. Not many people think twice before down voting new users.
    – NVZ Mod
    Commented Feb 7, 2016 at 12:15
  • 9
    I suspect some users don't like the topic related to the question, rather than the quality of the OP's research.
    – Golden Cuy
    Commented Feb 8, 2016 at 3:59
  • If they're all still there, your answer lies in Hot Licks' comment thread. Andrew's comment above is the TL:DR version.
    – Mazura
    Commented Feb 9, 2016 at 7:49
  • 3
    @Mazura to save people the trauma of reading a truly embarrassing comment thread: some users seem convinced that they know the asker's writing needs better than the asker themselves, and made up their minds based on nothing that the asker didn't really need this word after all. Also, in a surprising development, some high-ranking users of an English Language site don't know the difference between the words "race" and "nationality" Commented Feb 9, 2016 at 13:34
  • 2
    This reminds me of the Yiddish word "Goyim", which means "people who are not Jews", that is: everyone else. I don't know of any other such blanket terms, especially that are not attached to a particular "us". Phrases like "Other xxxxx" seem to require two words to specify both pieces of information.
    – user126158
    Commented Feb 9, 2016 at 16:19
  • The question is complicated by nationality, which despite protestations to the contrary does complicate the issue. Being other race+*other* nationality is one status, which like 'goyim' is completely outgroup. 'They' have nothing in common with 'us'. Being other race+*same* nationality is different. They are partly ingroup - 'one of us' - by being the same nationality and thus having quite a lot in common with 'us'. It is unlikely that there is one word that covers two distinct groups. Commented Feb 10, 2016 at 2:29
  • @nocomprende Gentile is similar to goyim. Both Jews and Mormons refer to those who aren't what they are, so there are Jewish gentiles. Commented Feb 10, 2016 at 6:23
  • @no-comprende Wow! that is rather fascinating considering that there is a not-all-that-different word (both phonetically speaking and as implicated by how it is applied in the context of the speaker's perspective) in Japanese ---> Gaijin which literally translates as-- gai = outside or from somewhere, not here and jin = person
    – Sk Johnson
    Commented Feb 10, 2016 at 18:51

3 Answers 3


Well, if you're missing something, I'm missing it too. I have no idea what the close-voters were thinking, but in any case, it's reopened now.

(Hint for the future: there really isn't much you can research for a word request. The bad word requests are the ones that don't give a context, and newsflash: two example sentences is perfectly sufficient context.)


I can tell you what I was thinking when I voted to close it, and my thinking is neatly encapsulated in Mari-Lou's comment below her own answer: "the OP didn't specify".

As the question stands, it is unanswerable because we lack information. Specifically:

  • What research was done. This was asked for, and though the OP refers to it it is not provided. I don't see myself as being here to do other people's research for them, and if they have done some research but won't share it, it is almost certain thet we are going to provide suggestions that they have already found and rejected.

  • What words were rejected, and why. Why are the standard words such as foreign, outsider, alien, etc. not acceptable? Why can't these 'people of another race' simply be referred to by their race or nationality?

  • As Hot Licks says, what is meant by 'race'? Is the OP meaning colour, nationality, or both? If so, why are the standard white/non-White/coloured phrases not acceptable?

  • Is the 'different race' individual the same nationality or not? We need this information to include or exclude phrases such as "ethnic minority".

Without this information, the question is way too broad and any answer is going to have circumstances where it is not suitable and a whole bunch of "aaaah but..." responses below it, because "the OP didn't specify".

  • Thank you. This helps me understand what other people were thinking; while the post seemed clear enough to me, evidently it was not clear enough to avoid misinterpretation.
    – herisson
    Commented Feb 9, 2016 at 5:14
  • 4
    As the OP, I would have been greatly benefitted if this detailed discussion would have been posted as a comment on the original post itself. Additionally, I am confused on what 'research' means here. Would this mean a list of websites referred? I have added clarifications to the points you mentioned here in the original post. Again, it would have been helpful to a newbie had these questions been asked on the original post itself.
    – dgun
    Commented Feb 9, 2016 at 5:25
  • 2
    @dgun ~ comments have a limited length - this would not fit in a comment and is not suitable as an answer. Research would be words you have rejected as unsuitable (as I mentioned in a comment) and yes, where you have looked if you have searched or used references. This is to avoid answerers going over the same old ground repeatedly. Commented Feb 9, 2016 at 6:03
  • 6
    "What research have you done already? Also, by "race", do you mean ethnicity, or nationality?" would have done the job. Also, I don't understand, doesn't the sample sentence "She was deeply protective to her [of other race], foster children" make it pretty clear that race means race, not nationality? I can't see how "foreign, outsider, alien" would fit. I don't think I've ever heard "race" used to mean nationality, only race i.e. ethnicity - I don't understand where the perceived ambiguity came from, nor why the problem couldn't be solved by asking a simple question. Commented Feb 9, 2016 at 13:13
  • @user568458 ~ have you ever heard of African Americans? They are African by race but American by nationality, and could be called "ethnic minority" for example. Compare with Africans in Africa who are the same race but different nationality as African Americans but could be called "foreigners" or similar. Now do you understand why specifying whether the nationality is the same or not makes a difference? Commented Feb 9, 2016 at 13:34
  • 2
    Well, yes, absolutely, that's a good example of how race and nationality are different things. Couldn't agree more. You can have same race, different nationality and visa versa, in the same way as you can have same race, different occupation or same race, different hairstyle, etc etc. Nationality is separate to race. Sorry, what's your point? Commented Feb 9, 2016 at 13:42
  • @user568458 ~ can you show where anybody said race and nationality are the same thing? The point is that to suggest suitable words we need to know if the person of other race is also other nationality, or not. Mari-Lou, for example, suggested "ethnic minority" but that only works if the nationality is the same. I suggested "foreign", but that only works if the nationality is different. Get it yet? As the question stands, we don't know if the nationality is the same or different. Commented Feb 9, 2016 at 13:58
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    You don't need to know the nationality, that's the point! The best answer is the one that specifies "different race" without presuming anything (relative prevalence, nationality, job, hair, anything) which "allogenous" and "racially different" achieve. "Foreign" relates to nationality and not race: black, white and asian South Africans are foreign in Britain, like black Brits are foreign in Ghana. "Ethnic minority" makes unwarranted assumptions about prevalence as well as nationality (e.g. it fits Uighur Chinese fostered by Han Chinese, but not Han fostered by Uighur). No presumptions! Commented Feb 9, 2016 at 14:41
  • 1
    @user568458 ~ "Allogenous", if you look the word up in a dictionary, means "different in nature or kind". It has nothing to do with race, and is mostly used in the medical field of transplants. "Racially different" is just a rephrase of "different race". If you want people to suggest actual, real, existing words you do need to know if the nationality is the same or not. I am from UK. Is a Chinese foreign to me? Are they a different race in the common use of the term - yes or no? Commented Feb 9, 2016 at 14:54
  • 4
    No-one said it was an easy question! But please read the accepted answer, it has a ref for "belonging to or consisting of a distinct ethnic group". I didn't upvote it, because it's so rare in modern use, but it doesn't make presumptions about nationality, which is the point that's relevant to this discussion. Re. your example: "Chinese" is a nationality. Ethnicity could be Han, Uighur, Tibetan, dozens more. It can also be used as shorthand for "racially Han Chinese", because language is messy. What does this prove? Commented Feb 9, 2016 at 15:16
  • Let us continue this discussion in chat. Commented Feb 9, 2016 at 15:28
  • 2
    There's nothing to discuss... race and nationality are different things. You can talk about race without talking about nationality. You can talk about both together, but it's not necessary to. That's it. End of story. Commented Feb 9, 2016 at 15:35
  • 1
    Ethnicity is cultural, not race... Commented Feb 9, 2016 at 15:57
  • "ethnic minority" but that only works if the nationality is the same I beg to differ! :)
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Feb 9, 2016 at 19:10
  • 1
    The status of the utterer is irrelevant as it has no bearing on the truth of the statement. I can say "Muslims are an ethnic minority in Myanmar" without being either a Muslim or Myanmarese. What it does require to be true is for the Muslims to be Myanmar nationals for the simple reason that they cannot be a minority of a population to which they don't belong. Commented Feb 11, 2016 at 1:36

You've got to understand that single-word-requests are obnoxious in general. Yes, maybe half have straight-forward answers, but the other half fall into at least one of several categories:

  1. The concept is so rare and specific that there's no "evolutionary pressure" to specialize a word to fit. Eg, a single word to describe a web page with an X in the upper right corner and a pulsating circle in the lower left.
  2. The desired meaning is unclear. (The subject question has this problem to a degree. What is the meaning of "another race"? Is a light-skinned African-American considered of "another race" in the US? What about someone from Iran? Or even Italy?)
  3. (As in this case) there's often a strong hint that the desire is for terminology that can be used pejoratively. Wordies here don't generally object to dredging up old, colorful pejoratives for works of fiction, but it goes against the grain of a word lover to intentionally expose a perfectly fine word to the degradation of use in the service of bigotry.
  4. It's predictable that valid suggestions will be ignored/rejected, for one reason or another. (Somehow you can just tell this is going to happen.)
  5. And one I forgot, though pretty much disjoint from the others (though I suppose there is often substantial overlap with #1): Requests to provide a variable or procedure name for a computer program.
  • 9
    Please tell me the "strong hint" for the desire of pejorative terminology in "She was deeply protective to her [of other race], foster children." The US census allows people to designate their racial admixture, but if your skin is dark enough for you to be called an African-American, you're black. Although Louisiana doesn't do the calculation to six decimal places anymore. Iranians and Italians are not races for American purposes -- they're foreigners, and at various times we've arranged our immigration laws to exclude both. Hope that helps.
    – deadrat
    Commented Feb 8, 2016 at 4:26
  • @deadrat - See my second bullet. OP never qualified what "other race" means.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Feb 8, 2016 at 13:35
  • 3
    @HotLicks I read your second list item. The "desired meaning" was clear enough in the 2010 US census for millions of people to classify themselves by race. In any case, I still fail to see how any ambiguity is a hint for "pejorative terminology."
    – deadrat
    Commented Feb 8, 2016 at 19:04
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    @HotLicks Maybe it's me, but I still don't understand. The OP's question does not mention "strange and unfamiliar." Even if it did, foreign to is not the same as foreign-looking. And neither of those usages is related to calling the original poster Opie.
    – deadrat
    Commented Feb 8, 2016 at 21:03
  • @deadrat LOL! You are too funny with that Opie joke.
    – Sk Johnson
    Commented Feb 12, 2016 at 23:26
  • @SkJohnson I don't recall making an "Opie joke." What are you talking about?
    – deadrat
    Commented Feb 12, 2016 at 23:29
  • @deadrat Right in the comment before where I LOL'ed And neither of those usages is related to calling the original poster Opie
    – Sk Johnson
    Commented Feb 13, 2016 at 17:52
  • @SkJohnson Unfortunately, the moderators, as they are wont, have pruned the conversation to fit their own sensibilities, leaving some comments but deleting the context, making it impossible to understand strange and unfamiliar and foreign to/foreign-looking. The And neither comment was not a punchline, but perhaps we have a different idea of of what a joke is. I'm always glad to amuse, but I hope it's clear that I'm serious when I object to "Opie" as disparaging and contemptuous.
    – deadrat
    Commented Feb 13, 2016 at 18:27
  • Oh, wow, I do understand, my apologies. In fact I tend to agree with your sentiments as to the impersonal, indeed degrading, attitude that the term carries with it. But more upsetting than that is everything else you just brought to light about the way things are typically run here.
    – Sk Johnson
    Commented Feb 14, 2016 at 16:06
  • 1
    @SkJohnson I didn't watch the thread so I missed your last comment. (I won't be notified unless you put at @+nym in your comment.) Don't be upset: comments are meant to be ephemera. And the moderators work oh so hard at keeping this a happy place. If you don't believe me, ask them. They'll be quick to assure you. Part of the problem is that moderators are all self-nominated; another part is the deep divide about the nature of ELU. Keep your eye on ELU answers. I've found there's good stuff to be learned there.
    – deadrat
    Commented Feb 18, 2016 at 22:15

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