Miscegenation (Latin miscere “to mix” + genus “kind”) is the mixing of different racial groups, that is, marrying, cohabiting, having sexual relations and having children with a partner from outside one’s racially or ethnically defined group.

The term “miscegenation” has been used since the nineteenth century to refer to interracial marriage and interracial sex, and more generally to the process of racial admixture, which has taken place since ancient history but has become more global through European colonialism since the Age of Discovery.  Historically the term has been used in the context of laws banning interracial marriage and sex, so-called anti-miscegenation laws. It is therefore a loaded word and is considered offensive by many.

Today, the word miscegenation is avoided by many scholars, because the term suggests a distinct biological phenomenon, rather than a categorization imposed on certain relationships. The word is considered offensive by many and other terms such as “interracial,” “interethnic” or “cross-cultural” are more common in contemporary usage. However, the term is still used by scholars when referring to past practices concerning multiraciality, such as anti-miscegenation laws that banned interracial marriages…