Difference between Bigot and Racist

Key difference: The main difference between racist and bigot is that fact that racism discriminates on the basis of race, whereas a bigot discriminates on the basis of his personal opinion, which can include race, gender, religion or beliefs.

The term bigot first originated in English by at least 1598. It came via Middle French, and is believed to have originally meant a "religious hypocrite". The word was previously used as an insult by the French for the Normans, in the context of hypocrites. It is believed that originally the term comes from the Swiss German curse 'bigot', i.e. "by god!"

However, today the term bigot defines someone who is so preoccupied with their prejudices that they begin to treat other people with fear, distrust, hatred, contempt, or intolerance. This mistreatment of people can be on the basis of a person's ethnicity, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, disability, socioeconomic status, or other characteristics.

The term racist has a similar connotation, however it does differ slightly. A racist is someone whose actions, practices, or beliefs are guided by the belief that humans are divided into races and that some races are better that the others. For example:  the belief that whites are better than blacks.

Racism is basically responsible for the slave trade, apartheid, and numerous genocides such as the Holocaust, Sudan, etc.

The main difference between racist and bigot is that fact that racism discriminates on the basis of race, whereas a bigot discriminates on the basis of his personal opinion, which can include race, gender, religion or beliefs produced by their own personal life experiences. Hence, it can be said that racism is a particular subset of bigotry.

Comparison between Bigot and Racist:




Definition (Dictionary.com)

A person who is utterly intolerant of any differing creed, belief, or opinion.

A person who believes in racism, the doctrine that a certain human race is superior to any or all others.


Discriminates on the basis of a person's ethnicity, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, disability, socioeconomic status, etc.

Discriminates on the basis of race.


Blinkered, narrow-mindedness, usually also very intolerant and unable to see anyone else's point of view.

Believes in the superiority of one race over another, or acts differently (usually negatively) towards a person or a group of people because of their race.


Racists, sexists, religious fanatics, fashion snobs, etc.

Is a subcategory of bigots

Image Courtesy: wordpandit.com, wonkette.com

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Just before the comparison between Bigot and Racist the following sentence "Hence, it can be said that racism is a particular sunset of bigotry." left me confused. Is there a typo and 'sunset' should read 'subset'?

Thank Ed, yes it was typo. It is corrected now :)

One of the examples of racism above uses the Holocaust which I'm assuming is the holocaust against the Jews in the late 1930s and the years during WWII in the 1940s. However, the Holocaust cannot be considered racist as Jews are not a race of people like many people wrongly believe. Unfortunately, trying telling that to Hitler back when he came up with the Nuremberg Laws and then sent his henchmen to come up with "the solution to the Jewish problem." Oh brother, what idiots. Anyhow, Jews were hated not only in Germany but in other countries before, during and since the Jewish Holocaust. What people seem to not accept or recognize is that Jews are Jews because they follow Judaism, a religion not a race, or because their parents and grandparents and so on were. It's the same as saying someone is Catholic because they follow Catholicism. Does anyone consider people who are Catholic to be a race? Jews were and, unfortunately, are still hated by several groups who shall not be named because it's not necessary. Those people who hate Jews or Catholics or Baptists or gays or females or people from Spain or even the United States are bigots. They hate people based on some preconceived ideas about them. Jews have been hated for as long as time because they were successful, held important jobs like in banking (which is ironic since they weren't allowed to work as educators or in other public institutions but they were allowed to work and run banks; they were in charge of approving or denying loans to-you guessed it- people who weren't Jewish! So if you were denied a loan based on your inability to pay it back-a very practical reason I believe-, they then blamed it on the Jews who were money hungry and wanted to keep the money to themselves. What? That's just crazy. Banks want to lend out money so they can charge interest, or use your money; but they have to have some type of measure to know who can or cannot pay a loan back. Geez, wait, they still do that today. Amazing how that works.) and they were hated because they were educated. When things got crappy in a country, city, town, village, it was "it must be the Jews fault. So anyhow, yeah if you hate blacks or Caucasians, then you're racist. If you hate just about any other group, well then you're a bigot. But let's get one thing clear, being Mexican is not a race, being female is not a race, being gay is not a race; therefore, being Jewish is not a race. They're just s group of people who follow the Old Testament, who don't believe that Jesus was God's son, and who just want to practice their religion in peace. Does that sound like a race to you. Didn't think so. Ok, that's it folks.
I'm against the use of the word 'racism' - there is only one race, the human race. 'Black' people are not a 'race'; they are just people that share a genotype for higher naturally occurring levels of melanin. in the skin and higher eumelanin in the hair. Our basis for saying someone is of a different 'race' seems to be decided by them presenting a very narrow band of genetic traits. So, let's stick with 'bigot' or 'sectarian', hey.

Yep, I'm a bigot, thanks for clearing that up. Whew, I knew I wasn't a racist. what a relief.

Yes, I thought I was a racist too but now find out I am a bigot. And I don't think I'm that rare a commodity. From my personal experiences I find almost everyone I know is a bigot. Whether you believe it or not we all develop stereotypical impressions over a lifetime. Just mention a 'racial' group or ethnic member and your mind immediately presents an image based upon your past experiences with a member of that group or what you have heard or seen on television. And if you watch the news and see a particular group of individuals constantly perpetrating crimes you will develop a greater negative attitude toward those members without even knowing one. The big trick, and it's a hard one, is to treat each individual on their own merits putting aside you lifetime preconceptions. If you can do that and hold your own personal prejudices in check and we can move forward.

I'm not a racist or bigot,hell I hate everybody....

I think that would make you intolerant of everyone and thus a Bigot (although I'm guessing you're kidding)

Ha ha ha! Thanks for the morning laugh!

I looked up the distinction because of a site that claimed that racism includes an inherent element of power -- that a person from a minority group cannot be racist, only bigoted. Merriam-Webster doesn't offer any hints of that. It seems like there's a fight over how to define the word, with people using it in two distinct ways and at least one group claiming that you CANNOT use it in the normal way.

From your definition, I'm wondering: If a person believes that all Irish people are thieves, but doesn't subscribe to the "some races are better" idea (perhaps thinking it's a cultural thing that all Irish people are raised in), does that make them act in a racist manner without being racist, just bigoted? I'd like to better understand the distinctions.


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