Definition of inequality in English:


nounPlural inequalities

mass noun
  • 1Difference in size, degree, circumstances, etc.; lack of equality.

    ‘social inequality’
    count noun ‘the widening inequalities in income’
    • ‘In addition, the country is fraught with numerous divisions upon which demagogues can flourish under circumstances of want and inequality.’
    • ‘The authoritarian government of the past exploited inequality among different ethnic groups, suppressing native languages and cultures.’
    • ‘Hostility to the existing political setup is being exacerbated by growing unemployment lines and widening social inequality.’
    • ‘In particular we need to focus on ways of building a mutuality of respect across the boundaries of inequality and difference.’
    • ‘She has a particular interest in exploring differing approaches to collectivism and working class resistance to social inequality.’
    • ‘Too many hours for some, combined with too few hours for others, can further polarize income inequality, as has occurred in Canada.’
    • ‘The free market program implemented by successive governments has widened social inequality to an unprecedented degree.’
    • ‘Never for a moment did they realize that the existing structure of society is the breeding ground of inequality, hatred and cruelty.’
    • ‘The underlying cause of growing discontent is the enormous degree of social inequality that has resulted from the introduction of capitalism in the former Soviet Union.’
    • ‘If you compare a violent society with a relatively peaceful one, the single biggest difference is income inequality.’
    • ‘However the selection is performed, there will always be a difference or inequality between professional groups.’
    • ‘Under New Labour, not only has inequality of income increased, social mobility has actually decreased.’
    • ‘More generally, of course, economic inequality undermines social cohesion.’
    • ‘Perhaps most important, inequality in the distribution of income and wealth means inequality in political and social power.’
    • ‘The Gini coefficient ranges from 0 to 1 and measures the degree of income inequality.’
    • ‘Democracy shows an independent positive association with health, which remains after adjustment for a country's wealth, its level of inequality, and the size of its public sector.’
    • ‘In other words, the widening gap between pension provision in the public and private sector will not just lead to widening social inequality, it will also become a block to Scotland's economy growth.’
    • ‘Gender inequality shapes different experiences of poverty and impacts on women and men's ability to move out of poverty.’
    • ‘Our results indicate that cross-country differences in income inequality alone does not explain for much of the variations in child labour worldwide.’
    • ‘On the contrary, under conditions of growing social inequality, the population at large is seen in a generally hostile manner, as a potential threat to his wealth and privileges.’
    imbalance, inequity, unevenness, disproportion, inconsistency, variation, variability
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1archaic Lack of smoothness or regularity in a surface.
      ‘the inequality of the ground hindered their footing’
    2. 1.2Mathematics The relation between two expressions that are not equal, employing a sign such as ≠ ‘not equal to’, > ‘greater than’, or < ‘less than’.
    3. 1.3Mathematics count noun A symbolic expression of the fact that two quantities are not equal.
      • ‘He showed that Bell's inequalities were violated and so the quantum interpretation held rather than the classical one.’
      • ‘He studied inequalities and geometry and measure theory, particularly working in this area with Besicovitch.’
      • ‘In fact he is remembered for Farkas theorem which is used in linear programming and also for his work on linear inequalities.’
      • ‘He also studied infinite series, the gamma function and inequalities for convex functions.’
      • ‘His early work was on number theory and he wrote on Diophantine inequalities and the geometry of numbers.’


Late Middle English: from Old French inequalite, or from Latin inaequalitas, from in- ‘not’ + aequalis (see equal).