Is there a word that means "more accepting of other cultures" that has a tone appropriate for use as a mild counter to "xenophobic"? Essentially a mild opposite of "xenophobic".

Example: "This organization outwardly claims to want to be more _____, but its actions lately have shown an unsettling xenophobic trend."

  • Another possibility is the phrase 'culturally sensitive'.
    – Anonym
    Feb 26, 2014 at 22:21
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    For those who actually like other cultures (as opposed to simply being "less intolerant"), there's always OED's xenophil adj. (also xenophile) fond of or attracted by foreign things or people; also as noun, such a person. Feb 26, 2014 at 22:34
  • @FumbleFingers I had considered that, although "xenophilic" had a more extreme connotation than I wanted.
    – Jason C
    Feb 27, 2014 at 0:12
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    @Jason: I would say you've already used one of the best words for the job in your question text. I'd like to think, for example, that Britain is on balance an accepting and accommodating society/nation, both in terms of accepting people from other cultures who arrive here, and in respect of other cultures in other countries. The former eventually become "British", whilst extending our shared culture. The latter, we help to live as they want (except if they "want" to live under the Taliban or other repressive regimes, obviously). Feb 27, 2014 at 2:05
  • Funny, "accepting" didn't even occur to me. Brilliant!
    – Jason C
    Feb 27, 2014 at 2:08

8 Answers 8


tolerant would fit.


willing to accept feelings, habits, or beliefs that are different from your own


An individual can be tolerant, and so can a community or a nation if it accepts people from lots of different cultures or backgrounds

  • 4
    @Jason: Be warned that in the UK at least, multiculturalism is increasingly seen as a failed attempt at "social engineering". In the 90s and the early part of this century it was "overpromoted" by central/local government, leading to resentment in certain areas where the incoming immigrant community were effectively being encouraged to become the locally dominant culture. There's more emphasis today on helping newcomers to be absorbed into the indigenous culture (with some degree of modification on both sides, obviously), rather than preserving "immigrant cultures abroad". Feb 26, 2014 at 22:41
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    ...And the dictionaries don't seem to agree on the principal sense. AHD has merely (1) 'Of, relating to, or including several cultures.'. Feb 26, 2014 at 22:59
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    @Jason: Well, this question is between the word choice for your sentence and the word fits to the definition. In my opinion, "tolerant" satisfies both. "multiculturalism" can be the character of the company but saying "more multicultural" does not seem very right to me. If you are multicultural, you are multicultural. To fit "more tolerant" in a sentence is a more common usage for these situations.
    – ermanen
    Feb 27, 2014 at 0:03
  • @FumbleFingers Oh; Thanks for the UK tip, that's a good one. Perhaps "inclusive" is better in that regard (although it's a little broad).
    – Jason C
    Feb 27, 2014 at 0:08
  • @ermanen That's a good point, I guess "multicultural" doesn't fit the example sentence that well.
    – Jason C
    Feb 27, 2014 at 0:24

Cosmopolitan may suit your needs depending on the connotations you're after. It suggests an awareness of global culture and is also an antonym of provincial (in the “small minded” sense).

  • Oh, that's a good one too.
    – Jason C
    Feb 27, 2014 at 0:03
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    Long been used of cities in precisely this context
    – Murph
    Feb 27, 2014 at 6:35

multicultural is the current mainstream intellectual word for this.


I've heard the word 'inclusive' used to describe this kind of behavior in the corporate setting.

  • I like this alot; it's a good one to file away in case I have to use it in close proximity to (or as a less buzz-y alternative to) "multicultural" or "tolerant".
    – Jason C
    Feb 27, 2014 at 0:46

I would say that the person would be open-minded or an internationalist.


Culturally competent.

Cultural competence is a set of congruent behaviors, attitudes, and policies that come together in a system, agency or among professionals and enable that system, agency or those professions to work effectively in cross-cultural situations. http://nccccurricula.info/culturalcompetence.html


Such an organization or person is pluralistic, or "culturally pluralistic" if you want to avoid any confusion with other meanings of pluralism (e.g. the political theory).

I nod approvingly in the direction of multicultural, which has all the trappings of a buzzword in current usage. However, I prefer pluralistic because it indicates not merely a tolerance of disparate cultures but a belief in their ability to coexist amicably without losing or sacrificing their unique identities.

Where multicultural is an obligation in modern society, pluralistic is an aspiration. Where multicultural signifies tolerance, pluralistic signifies integration without assimilation.

Consequently, I think it serves better as a counterpoint to xenophobia, without reaching as far as xenophile.


Cultural Hospitality feels like it encompasses openness and eagerness. I bet langauges other than English have just the right word!

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