nounchiefly North American
late Middle English (denoting a person not of the Christian or Jewish faith): via ecclesiastical Latin from Greek ethnikos 'heathen', from ethnos 'nation'. Current senses date from the 19th century
In recent years ethnic has begun to be used in a euphemistic way to refer to non-white people as a whole, as in a radio station which broadcasts to the ethnic community in Birmingham. Although this usage is quite common, especially in journalism, it is better expressed by more accurate terms such as ‘black’, ‘Asian’, etc.