Does inter-ethnic refer to things that are between different ethnic groups, or within one ethnic group?

If it refers to things that are between different ethnic groups, what word would be used to refer to things that are within one ethnic group?

3 Answers 3


Inter means between. The Latin prefix for within is intra. However I wouldn't use "intra-ethnic" -- in fact I can't think of a sentence which would refer to "things within one ethnic group". One might talk perhaps of "inter-ethnic conflict", but "intra-ethnic conflict"? I think not: it would be "ethnic Europeans (for example) are fighting amongst themselves".

  • 3
    The words interethnic and intraethnic are both used commonly enough to make Google Ngrams, although they don't make my browser's spell-checker. Commented Mar 10, 2012 at 13:54
  • @Peter Shor: My (Google Chrome) spell-checker is perfectly happy with both so long as they're hyphenated. Which suits me because I think they should be. I know it's not a very smart spell-checker (it's also happy with intra-invalid-words-in-this-construction) but I'm not complaining. Commented Mar 18, 2012 at 15:50

Google Books has 28,000 hits for intra-ethnic plus 15,000 for intraethnic, so it's not particularly unusual. Given intra- is a common, productive prefix signifying inside, within, interior, during, I disagree with Andrew's advice here to avoid the term completely. Though like the majority of those writers, I would avoid the unhyphenated version because it's a little tricky to read correctly at first glance.


Intra-ethnic conflict is a kind of conflict between or among people within the same ethnic group:


(Added to adjectives) on the inside; within:


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