over-generalized belief about a particular category of people; often used in literature and films as means to emphasize characters

A stereotype is a mistaken idea or belief many people have about a thing or group that is based upon how they look on the outside, which may be untrue or only partly true.[2] Stereotyping people is usually considered a type of prejudice because how a person would appear on the outside is a small part of who a person is on the inside. Like other untrue opinions, stereotypes might be used as reasons to discriminate against another person, or sometimes for a humorous effect in fiction.

Watermelon stereotype: Black people seem to like watermelons. Postcard from 1911.
The First Thanksgiving 1621, oil on canvas by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris (1899). The painting shows common misconceptions about the event: Pilgrims did not wear such outfits, and the Wampanoag are dressed in the style of Native Americans from the Great Plains.[1]

The term was invented in the late 18th century for a method of printing.[3] In the mid-19th century it meant the faithful reproduction of everything which could be printed, whether words or pictures. It made the printing of cheap editions possible, and was used in printing newspapers. The term got its psychological meaning in the 20th century.



  1. "Let's Talk Turkey: 5 myths about the Thanksgiving holiday". The Patriot Ledger. November 26, 2009. Archived from the original on November 14, 2013. Retrieved November 22, 2014.
  2. "Word Central Student Dictionary: Definition of Stereotype". Mirriam-Webster.
  3. Twyman M. 1970. Printing 1770–1970: an illustrated history of its development and uses in England. London: Eyre & spottiswoode.