Definition of etic in English:



  • Relating to or denoting an approach to the study or description of a particular language or culture that is general, nonstructural, and objective in its perspective.

    Often contrasted with emic
    • ‘Some anthropologists address the problem of determining from whose perspective an observation is meaningful and against which set of standards it should be validated by calling attention to the emic or etic status of data.’
    • ‘The importance of finding a set of etic dimensions and corresponding and yet valid and reliable measures on which ethnic groups may be compared is stressed by our findings, which may represent a step in this direction.’
    • ‘Related to the problems of anachronism and ethnocentrism is the distinction between emic and etic terms.’
    • ‘Drawing on data from biological anthropology, historical linguistics, and archaeology, he attempts an etic examination of the processes of formation of ethnic groups in the Japanese islands between 400 BC and the medieval era.’
    • ‘But where emic and etic accounts differ lies the potential for insights into, and explanations for, puzzling human behavior.’
    • ‘In ethnographic studies, the orientation of the researcher is termed etic or emic.’

plural noun

  • treated as singular Study adopting this approach.

    • ‘Social researchers who believe they substitute synonymous concepts for emics and etics in fact settle for less precision by distinguishing between subjective and objective perspectives.’
    • ‘If the different perspectives characterized as emics or etics are ignored or conflated, the theoretical aims and empirical data of the study will be rendered worthless.’


1950s: abstracted from phonetic.