Difference Between Asian and Oriental

Asian is a standard word and unconventional word. It does not hurt any religion or promote discrimination. It can be used in public speaking without the fear of being offensive.

While Oriental is an archaic synonym of Asian. It promotes discrimination as the word has a Eurocentric origin. It has been prohibited from using in English and even in many other languages since It is offensive in nature.

Comparison Table Between Asian and Oriental

Parameters of ComparisonAsianOriental
Meaning It is a word used to refer to the people of the continent of Asia It is a word used to refer to people of the east
BackgroundIt does not have a hurtful historical backgroundIt has a hurtful historical background
OffensiveIt is not considered offensive It is considered offensive
OriginAsian has an east of European origin Oriental has a Eurocentric origin
Better wordAsian is a better wordPolitically incorrect and outdated word

What is Asian?

Asian is referred to people of Asia. Asians can further be classified into other types depending upon the region from where they hail.

People from the West try to generalize Asian people with slanted eyes. Though people from Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan do not have such eyes and hence the generalization is not correct.

In the 1980 Census, the first analysis on general Asians was marked. It had a group with the ancestors of Asian or Pacific Islander (API).

Americans considered Asians as people from the Pacific Islands and termed Asian and Pacific Islanders together. Later the two words were separated into ''Asian' and 'Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander".

What is Oriental?

Oriental is a traditional term used to refer to people of the Orient. Orient refers to the Eastern world, specifically the continent of Asia.

The Asian people consider Oriental as an offensive word and hence its use is discouraged. It has Eurocentric origin and Asians are from the east of the European countries.

The word Orient is derived from the Latin word "oriens" which means east. Oriental is also used as an adjective and a noun and it promotes colonialism.

Oriental outdated designation for Southeast Asia. The ideas and philosophies of Oriental people were published in a book called Orientalism by Edward Said.

Main Differences Between Asian and Oriental

  1. Asian is not an offensive word and politically correct while Oriental is an offensive word and politically incorrect.
  2. Asian is considered as a national demonym while Oriental is not considered as any national demonym.
Difference Between Asian and Oriental


Both the words have no geographical difference and refer to the eastern continent especially Asia. Both the words refer to similar cultures and groups of people.

The difference in both the words is due to various factors like origin, background, and cultural meaning. Many languages have banished the use of Oriental due to its roots.

Words that are used to refer to people or cultures of other regions have the risk of being discriminative and hurtful in sense. They can promote offensive or derogatory ideas.


  1. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=lang_en&id=7zngCgAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PP1&dq=asian+and+oriental&ots=imrgw7f1H2&sig=nNNKWJpLUaTVBWi39F9fo5VuGoE
  2. https://www.taylorfrancis.com/books/mono/10.4324/9780203004388/oriental-enlightenment-clarke
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