We now write antisemitism (n.), antisemitic (adj.), without a hyphen and with no capitalization.

This is a change from AP's previous style: anti-Semitism and anti-Semitic.

APStylebook, Apr 23, 2021

Also, IHRA suggests no hyphen.

The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) would like to address the spelling of the term 'antisemitism', often rendered as ‘anti-Semitism’. The IHRA’s concern is that the hyphenated spelling allows for the possibility of something called ‘Semitism’, which not only legitimizes a form of pseudo-scientific racial classification that was thoroughly discredited by association with Nazi ideology, but also divides the term, stripping it from its meaning of opposition and hatred toward Jews.

  • 1
    Fine by me. I see someone edited one of my posts in that direction already, and I approved the edit. I wasn't aware of the IHRA/AP change(s). I should point out that the editor who made the change used capitalization though: Antisemitism. Maybe we should settle on that too. Commented Nov 26, 2023 at 6:07
  • FWTW, some recent pieces still use the pre-2021 style and not in any way intended to deride the concept, e.g. newstatesman.com/world/2023/11/… Commented Nov 26, 2023 at 20:56
  • @Fizz - Dictionaries have their preferences. Publishers using the Chicago Manual of Style sometimes refuse articles unless "antisemitism" is used. Wikipedia changed sometime before 2009. Preferring "antisemitism" is occurring more often.
    – Rick Smith
    Commented Nov 26, 2023 at 22:42
  • 2
    I like hyphens, but really it's (anti-Semite)-ism -- smashing the hyphen of lower precedence seems to change the meaning.
    – Nat
    Commented Dec 5, 2023 at 14:33
  • @Dolphin613Motorboat I would suggest holding off on your edit spree of adding tags as the antisemitism tag doesn't really make sense on a question asking about how the word should be written in a question.
    – Joe W
    Commented Mar 12 at 16:34
  • @JoeW: well some answers here (and the Q too) suggest[s] it's antisemitic to write it in the 'old style'. Commented Mar 12 at 16:37

5 Answers 5


I have no objection to this specific suggestion as it is a recommendation from IHRA - I personally believe the victims of hate know best the political language used to denigrate them, and it is important to hear them.

But when considering writing styles and such, I would like to point out that I write all my posts in Indian / British English. Since this is an international site, I don't think some would appreciate if all their posts are edited to conform to American English. (The AP stylebook is a guide for American English grammar created by American journalists).

Language imposition is a politically charged issue in my country because language and culture are interlinked. Here's a case study analysing the impact of American English when subtly used as a political tool - English and American Linguistic Hegemony.

(To be very clear, I have no objection to this particular suggestion, but wouldn't be happy if one overall regional writing style is advocated for all.)

  • 1
    In this case, the substance of the argument weighs more. I have personally encountered Palestinians who argued that "because they were Semites themselves, they were unable to be anti-Semites". Treating the word "antisemitism" as a well-defined term meaning hatred towards jews lessens the impact of that pseudo-argument. (To be fair, I would not consider the people who told me that to be actually antisemitic themselves, but they defended others who were.)
    – ccprog
    Commented Nov 28, 2023 at 23:16
  • 2
    @ccprog As I stated, I am in favour of standardising this usage here in Po.SE (see my update). A note of caution though - while it is ok in the context of hate politics, it may not be when it comes to Israel-Palestine politics. I have heard arguments by Palestinians that attempts to appropriate and equate the word "Semite" to only refer to "Jews", is meant to further deny Arabs an important part of their identity, to increase Jewish legitimacy in claiming Israel / Palestinian land. So maybe it might be prudent to consider how the word is used before replacing it.
    – sfxedit
    Commented Nov 29, 2023 at 13:27
  • 2
    Without any political or cultural intent, I suspect not a few people who speak English as a second language are rather fed up with the UK/US English dichotomy. Personally, I can't wait till the UK variants fall by the wayside, as their spelling makes pronunciation even less predictable than the US versions. "colour" does not have an "our" vowel sound it it. Nor, as a French speaker, is it any compliment to its source language, where we spell it "couleur", not "coulour". Examples of that are rife with the UK spellings, the US ones are "dumbed down" and easier to predict. Commented Dec 1, 2023 at 20:27
  • @ItalianPhilosophers4Monica If it's dumbing down of english you want, why stop with American English? ;) Jokes apart, there's actually political opposition to the idea of "dumbing down" of a language (apparently it aspires to the goal of "idiocracy" - stupid people are more compliant people). See Why is Ofqual trying to dumb down English exams? and The dumbing down of a generation to get an idea ...
    – sfxedit
    Commented Dec 1, 2023 at 21:09
  • @ItalianPhilosophers4Monica And note that the satire I linked to suggested scrapping Shakespeare. It's already happening and Shakespeare has been replaced by ... (drumroll) ... 'The Simpsons'! (I personally love the show and wouldn't characterise it as "dumbing down" but ...)
    – sfxedit
    Commented Dec 1, 2023 at 21:13

If that is the only edit being made to the post then it shouldn't be done. If there are other edits and improvements being made then there is no issue with also making that edit at the same time.

I don't see this as enough of an issue to edit a post for that alone. Though it would be acceptable to leave it as a comment and let the author decide if they want to make that change.


No, this should be up to the poster.

There are certain relatively unambiguous cases where, for instance, someone is referring to a group using a racial slur. In such cases, we should edit the post to conform to our site guidelines, or discipline the user if the post is particularly egregious.

This is not such a case. This is more analogous to whether someone is writing "black Americans," "Black Americans" or "African Americans," or "female scientists" versus "women scientists." We might well have our beliefs about which formulation is most conducive to promoting equality and equity, but no one phrase is inherently and unambiguously offensive to members of the group, so we are not going around editing all the answers to confirm to one style or the other.

The Associated Press is one news organization and the IHRA is one organization dealing with Jewish issues. Some news organizations have adopted the IHRA style; others, including the indubitably Jewish-staffed Times of Israel, have not. Without discounting the many individuals, including many Jews, who did not change their style of writing simply because one Judaism-adjacent organization changed its style.

So yes, this should be left up to the individual poster.


Recognizing that there is an ongoing effort to try to deny the centuries of antisemitism, and to try to define it away by appealing to etymology, while ignoring its reality, I would argue that the hyphenated version was a temporary and unwelcome step away from its traditional spelling. The word is not just an English word. It's present in many, if not most, European languages.

French: antisémitisme

Spanish: antisemitismo

German: Antisemitismus

Greek: αντισημιτισμός

Ukrainian: антисемітизм

Russian: антисемитизм

Polish: antysemityzm

Hungarian: antiszemitizmus

The suggestion that the word means anything other than hatred towards Jews, as an identifiable group, whitewashes the history of such hatred. When done wittingly, this suggestion is itself antisemitic.

There is no question, that the hyphenated version serves to advance the argument that the word's meaning stands for hatred towards Semites at large, rather than just Jews. This argument is frequently made online, to dismiss those pointing out the obvious antisemitic nature of remarks.

"I can't be anti-Semitic because I am a Semite" should not be an argument allowed in polite society.


I would say that antisemitism and anti-Semitism mean different things.

anti-Semitism is hatred of the Semitic peoples, which include Jews, Arabs and some other (all supposedly descending from the Biblical Sam/Shem.) They also speak related Semitic languages (although modern classification.)

antisemitism is the hatred directed specifically at Jews. Although originally the word was likely identical in meaning with anti-Semitism, over the course of European history it came to refer specifically to Jews.

As the result, one now encounters terms such as Arab antisemitism, and the objections that Arabs are Semitic people and hence cannot be antisemitic. On the one hand, this is an abuse of language, since there is definitely a lot of hatred for the Jewish people in the Arab world. On the other hand, one could argue that this hatred is different from the historical Western antisemitism, since it is grounded (at least to some extent) in real grievances against Israel, whereas Western antisemitism is just irrational ethnic and cultural hatred.

Both terms should not be confused with anti-Judaism - the dislike of Jews by Christians and Muslims for the reasons of religious doctrine.

  • I didn't understand the last sentence - why do you say antisemitism isn't the same as anti-judaism (or even anti Jewish?)?
    – sfxedit
    Commented Nov 29, 2023 at 16:08
  • @sfxedit it is anti-Jewish. But antisemitism is not grounded in religion, and not necessarily against people who are religious. E.g., you may hate Jews for their long noses, or because they exploit German people, or because of what they do to Palestinians. Although these are but justification ms for irrational hatred.
    – Morisco
    Commented Nov 29, 2023 at 16:23
  • I am ignorant about this distinction - so is antisemitism hatred of Jews stemming from racial factors? While anti-Jewish has to do more with hatred from religious fundamentalism (from other religion)?
    – sfxedit
    Commented Nov 29, 2023 at 16:36
  • @sfxedit anti-Judaism - Judaism is the name of a religion, whereas Jewish may refer to religion, ethnic background, cultural background or even nationality (in the meaning Israeli)
    – Morisco
    Commented Nov 29, 2023 at 16:51
  • @sfxedit as the state and the church became separated almost everywhere in Europe in the XIX-th century, and everyone was given equal rights irrespective of their religion, it was expected that the religious hatred of Jews would disappear, and Jews would assimilate into their home nations. But the hatred took different form, which triggered the rise of Zionism as a national liberation movement.
    – Morisco
    Commented Nov 29, 2023 at 16:56
  • Thanks for these perspectives - as a non-westerner and non-Arab, I have never equated Jewish with a nationality even though I do know the Jewish identity was important for some (Zionists) in the formation of Israel. I have also never encountered the word anti-Judaism, even in any hate literature that I have come across, so far but I am sure its usage is common when people wrap their anti-Jewish rhetoric in a "clash of civilization" kind of argument.
    – sfxedit
    Commented Nov 30, 2023 at 14:15
  • @sfxedit The persecution of Jews in Christian Europe (before XIX-th century) was often motivated by their role in the crucifixion of Jesus (the New Testament says he was crucified by Romans, on the request by the Jewish high priests.) There is also a long tradition of blood libel, which originally referred to claims that Jews sacrifice Christian children for ritual purposes (since Jews were a closed community, it was easy to attribute to them weird religious practices.) See also Beilis case.
    – Morisco
    Commented Nov 30, 2023 at 14:32
  • @sfxedit Note also that persecution of Jews by Nazis and in the USSR was non-religious in nature (mostly racial, but also due to some social factors.)
    – Morisco
    Commented Nov 30, 2023 at 14:37
  • On that part, I disagree - I do believe the Nazi resentment and holocaust was a result of Christian religious fundamentalism in the west, and the west made it about Racism to whitewash this - Nazi Leaders And Christianity. Just like Christianity became a useful political tool for imperialism, it was also customised to be used against the Jews in US and Europe ultimately culminating into Nazism. (And now against Muslims, starting with the "war against terror").
    – sfxedit
    Commented Dec 1, 2023 at 1:04
  • See also The Holy Reich : Nazi conceptions of Christianity, 1919-1945 and The Sign of the Cross: From Golgotha to Genocide for more on this subject.
    – sfxedit
    Commented Dec 1, 2023 at 1:16
  • 1
    @sfxedit the Nazis killed nuns who had 1 Jewish grandparent. This was not a religious hatred. Trying to narrow antisemitism to just one cause risks denying all the antisemitism stemming from other sources of hatred.
    – wrod
    Commented Dec 2, 2023 at 15:42
  • @sfxedit racial theories are central to National- Socialism: en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nazi_racial_theories
    – Morisco
    Commented Dec 2, 2023 at 17:52
  • @wrod - That's my point too - westerners white washed Nazism to one cause (racism) when it was as much built on the foundation of race and religion ("white christians are superior") as imperialism was. Note that politicians who use religious fundamentalism aren't necessarily religious too. So citing "Hitler and so and so Nazi leaders aren't religious" isn't a great argument. We see it even today in the fascist Hindutva movement in India, whose ideology is based on religious fundamentalism - the founder of the movement was an atheist inspired by Hitler.
    – sfxedit
    Commented Dec 3, 2023 at 2:51
  • @sfxedit Nazis were not religious, they were even against religion - like their communist comrades. Furthermore, Nazis emerged nearly a hundred years after secularization of Europe, when religion simply stopped being a political issue. You seem to have completely ignored my previous comments on this subject.
    – Morisco
    Commented Dec 3, 2023 at 7:15
  • @RogerV. Nazis were not religious ... - That's common among politicians who use religious fundamentalism for politics.
    – sfxedit
    Commented Dec 3, 2023 at 20:03

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