Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A person having one white and one Black parent. See Usage Note at octoroon.
  • n. A person of mixed white and Black ancestry.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A person of mixed African and Caucasian descent.
  • n. Anyone born to two half-African and half-Caucasian parents.
  • n. Anyone who is three quarters African and one quarter Caucasian, or one quarter African and three quarters Caucasian.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The offspring of a negress by a white man, or of a white woman by a negro, -- usually of a brownish yellow complexion.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. One who is the offspring of parents of whom one is white and the other a negro.
  • Of the color of a mulatto.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. an offspring of a black and a white parent

Etymologies

Spanish mulato, small mule, person of mixed race, mulatto, from mulo, mule, from Old Spanish, from Latin mūlus.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Spanish or Portuguese mulato ("of mixed breed, young mule"), from mulo ("mule"), from Latin mulus ("mule"). Perhaps an allusion to the hybrid origin of mules.. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • In the census of 1850, the term mulatto appears for the first time due primarily to inter-marriage between Irish and African Americans.

    A Very Brief Primer on Immigration History, Part 1

  • The definition of the term mulatto, as understood in this state, seems to be vague, signifying generally a person of mixed white or European and Negro parentage, in whatever proportions the blood of the two races may be mingled in the individual.

    The Wife of his Youth and Other Stories of the Color Line, and Selected Essays

  • "` The term mulatto, '" he read, "` is not invariably applicable to every admixture of African blood with the European, nor is one having all the features of a white to be ranked with the degraded class designated by the laws of this State as persons of color, because of some remote taint of the negro race.

    The House Behind the Cedars

  • "'The term mulatto,'" he read, "'is not invariably applicable to every admixture of African blood with the European, nor is one having all the features of a white to be ranked with the degraded class designated by the laws of this State as persons of color, because of some remote taint of the negro race.

    The House Behind the Cedars

  • Portrayed as having light skin, long hair and a shapely body, the Jezebel was sometimes referred to as a mulatto or half-breed.

    Don’t Bring Home a White Boy

  • I went to dictionary.com to find a good definition for the word mulatto and found this: 1 A person having one white and one Black parent.

    Whistleblower Calls Me Asiatic Black Man

  • As for Carrera, he is sometimes called a mulatto and sometimes a zambo, that is, half-Negro, half-Indian.

    World’s Great Men of Color

  • Miss Diana died about two years ago, he suddenly introduced a tawny sort of cretur, whom they call a mulatto or creole, or some such thing, into the house; and it seems that he has had several children by her, whom he never durst own during Miss Diana's life, but whom he now declares to be his heirs.

    The Disowned — Volume 05

  • Diana died about two years ago, he suddenly introduced a tawny sort of cretur, whom they call a mulatto or creole, or some such thing, into the house; and it seems that he has had several children by her, whom he never durst own during Miss Diana's life, but whom he now declares to be his heirs.

    The Disowned — Complete

  • As Black Appalachian people, my great grandfather (called mulatto but whose family was tri-racial - Black American/African, American Indian and white/European), his maternal uncle (also "mulatto") and other family members, moved to Chanute in 1911 or 1912 from their Tennessee-North Carolina mountain home.

    Shock&Awe

Comments

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  • Watson used this word in an episode where he was chasing after a suspect and couldn't catch him.

    June 16, 2012

  • Oh no, I do realize that clothing was extremely valuable at the time. That was part of my point--that it seems almost as though the clothing the escapees are wearing is the most valuable aspect of the "property" loss.

    As for the silver buckles--I think I just said "shoe buckles." But either way....

    February 1, 2009

  • That also makes these ads rather valuable as historical records in reconstructing the lives of servants and slaves, who didn't leave a lot of written records.

    But the thought that the owners/masters were so greedy and beastly as to want the shoe buckles and waistcoats back, in addition to their human "property," is perhaps a slight misunderstanding of one fact that we in this affluent time period may not appreciate: clothes were all hand-made, and very valuable. No standard sizes, so everything was cut and sewn to fit you. One-offs. Servants and slaves often wore ill-fitting and patched hand-me-downs or were given, once a year, a bolt of rough cloth (osnaburg) and some thread to make their own simple gunny-sack-like clothes. For them to have really nice clothes, or even just more than one set of clothes, well... where did they get them?

    The silver buckles... Not just anyone wore silver buckles in 18th-century Virginia—only gentlemen and ladies (the gentry). Not servants. Middle-class ("middling sort") people mostly wouldn't have them either—they'd wear brass buckles, or use ties. People still dressed according to their social class. It's another reminder that the Revolution was more than just a war for independence.

    It was a different world. As much as we think we can understand these early Americans, our ancestors, we can't, really. Not that that would ever stop me from trying. :)

    January 31, 2009

  • Having read a few of the "ads" you've posted today, I'm struck for some reason by the fact that those placing them know precisely what each runaway is wearing—down to shoe buckles in some cases. That somehow makes the ads sound even more beastly.

    January 31, 2009

  • Yes, it's definitely pejorative. In the following text, however, it's used in the context of the time period, which is to say it's not intended to be offensive, just descriptive. These "runaway ads" tell such a story in such a short space.

    "Y O R K Town, July 27, 1774.

    My Mulatto Fellow CORNELIUS ran away from this Town about five Weeks ago; he was apprehended at Fredericksburg, brought here and imprisoned, and last Night broke Jail. While he continued at Fredericksburg unmolested, he passed for a Freeman. His Wife, a Mulatto, was in Company with him; both were considered as free People, and hired in the Harvest by some Planters. Their Scheme was to get Money, and to proceed back upon the Frontiers of Virginia. Whoever apprehends the Mulatto Fellow in this Colony, and delivers him to me, will be entitled to a Reward of 5l. £ or if secured in any of the County Jails, and immediate Notice thereof given to me, 3l. If taken in Carolina, Maryland, or any other Colony, and delivered to me, 8l. and if taken in another Colony, and secured in any of the County Jails here, 6l.

    JOHN H. NORTON.

    N. B. The Fellow is middle sized; he carried with him a Russia Drill Postilion Coat and Waistcoat, and an old blue Livery Cloth suit."
    Virginia Gazette (Purdie & Dixon), August 4, 1774

    January 30, 2009

  • Outdated & ugly & useless. A throwback to the Bad Old Days.

    October 6, 2007

  • so very outdated ...

    October 6, 2007