Miscegenation (/mɪˌsɛdʒɪˈneɪʃən/) is the mixing of different racial groups through marriage, cohabitation, sexual relations, or procreation, particularly mixing that is perceived to negatively impact the purity of a particular race or culture. Anti-miscegenation is a prominent theme of racial supremacist movements.
Though the notion that racial mixing is undesirable has arisen at different points in history, it gained particular prominence in Europe during the era of colonialism. The term miscegenation entered the English language in the 19th century as racial segregation began to become more formalized in the United States. It was specifically used to refer to interracial marriage and interracial sexual relations. The term came to be associated with laws which banned interracial marriage and sex, these laws were known as anti-miscegenation laws.
Although the term “miscegenation” was formed from the Latin miscere “to mix” plus genus “race” or “kind”, and it could therefore be perceived as value-neutral, it is almost always used in a negative way, to refer to something which should be avoided, punished or outlawed. More neutral terms for mixed-race relationships, such as “interracial”, “interethnic”, or even “cross-cultural” are more common in contemporary usage. In Spanish America, the term mestizaje, which is derived from mestizo—the blending of European whites and Indigenous peoples of the Americas, is used to refer to racial mixing.