Word of the Week (217): MUSTEE (probability 8104), by David Sutton

A MUSTEE (or MESTEE) was a word used in the West Indies for a person of one-eighth Black ancestry, that is to say, the offspring of a white person and a QUADROON. Other words for MUSTEE are METIF and OCTOROON (or OCTAROON). The term for someone of one-sixteenth black descent, the offspring of a white person and an octoroon, was QUINTROON.

Compared with the wealth of words, usually derogatory, used to denote people of various races, there seem to be relatively few words for people of mixed race. A CRIOLLO refers specifically to a member of a social class in the caste system of the overseas colonies established by Spain in the 16th century, especially in Latin America, comprising the locally born people of confirmed Spanish ancestry. A CRIOLLO ranked below a trueborn Spaniard from the Iberian peninsula but could have one-eight native blood and still rank above all others of mixed descent, not to mention Amerindians and enslaved Africans. The caste designation for others of mixed descent was MESTIZO (feminine MESTIZA), with variant spellings MESTESO or MESTINO.

The word CRIOLLO is not to be confused with CREOLE (or CREOLIAN), which was used loosely in many parts of the word for people descended from any interaction of white colonialists with the native peoples.

A METIS (feminine METISSE) is a word of French origin for the offspring of a white person and an American Indian.

MULATTO (feminine MULATTA or MULATRESS) is an outdated term used to refer to a person who is born from one white parent and one black parent, or more broadly, a person of any proportion of significant European and African ancestry.

A MAMELUCO is a word of Portuguese origin for a child born of a white father and Indian mother. A MELUNGEON is any of a dark-skinned group of people living in the Appalachians, of mixed White, Indian and Black origin.

A ZAMBO was the offspring of a Negro man and an American Indian woman.

Finally, a general word for people of mixed racial heritage is MISCEGEN (or MISCEGENE or MISCEGINE)


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