Word of the Day: Caucasian

By Daniel Scocco

Caucasian (kô-kā’zhən) is commonly used as an adjective to describe people from racial groups characterized by white skin, especially ones with European origin. This meaning was coined by German anthropologist Johann Blumenbach since the Caucasus Mountains (located close to the Black Sea) are homeland for most of the white races.

caucasus.gif

African-American men have twice the risk of developing type 2 diabetes as Caucasian men. (NY Times)

The modelling business has always been dominated by Caucasian faces but not for a long time has the situation been so extreme. (The Guardian)

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31 Responses to “Word of the Day: Caucasian”

  • jonson roth

    Sorry, but this is not correct. People simply started assuming that “Caucasian” meant “white only”, but it doesn’t. Back in the 1970s, the term used to be “White Caucasian,” but police and other officials that use the media stopped using the “white” part of the description.

    The fact is, there are darker-skinned Caucasian types, particularly some East Indians and people from a few other places (North Africa, etc.) Just check the following reference for proof:

    http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/caucasian

    The term has been used in correctly for a long time now.

  • Daniel Scocco

    jonson, perhaps. Here is the Wikipedia quote:

    “The Caucasian race, sometimes called the Caucasoid race,[1][2] is defined by the Compact Oxford English Dictionary of Current English as “relating to a broad division of humankind covering peoples from Europe, Western Asia, parts of the Indian Subcontinent and parts of North Africa” or “white-skinned; of European origin” or “relating to the region of the Caucasus in SE Europe”.[3] “

  • Deborah

    Last week I agreed to take an on-line survey from Business Journal, which asked questions about how I used the publication. At the end of the questions, the survey asked for my “race” and offered these possibilities: Asian or Pacific Islander, African-American, Hispanic, Native American, Caucasian (non-Hispanic) and Other.

    This confusion of race and ethnicity makes me nuts; I checked Other.
    But I was born in Texas, USA … so I must be a Native American.

    My “ethnic” antecedents are Danish, Dutch, Scot, and English. Maybe I’m a Nordic-Celtic-Anglo-Saxon-American. But strictly speaking, Denmark is neither Nordic or even Scandinavian. I could call myself a Viking-Celtic-Anglo-Saxon-American.

    All I know is that I have red hair, blue eyes, and I am so white that I reflect light. Why this should matter to the Business Journal?

    Maybe I’ll stick with Native American; if someone asks “what tribe” I can tell them Clan Wallace 🙂

  • jonson roth

    yikes. I mean “incorrectly”, not “in correctly”.

    Right, but my point is that this is an incorrect definition. There are slightly darker Caucasians out there: “dark Caucasians”. Normally I wouldn’t argue with Oxford’s, but the clue is in the incorrect definition.

    The people I refer to have been integrated into Western Asia, India, and North Africa, as the definition says. While they are much lighter-skinned than the rest of their country folk, they are darker than the “white Caucasians” that “Caucasian” now incorrectly refers to.

    I’d have to check the Wikipedia entry to see what year that Oxford’s entry is from, but I’m guessing it’s recent, which might explain why it’s wrong.

  • Daniel Scocco

    Yes I agree the correct definition should be broader than “white skin.”

  • Erik Deckers

    Actually, I’m not a big fan of the word to begin with. It’s an archaic word now — other terms like African-American, Asian American, Black, Hispanic, etc. have rendered it obsolete. We would not say Negro or Mongoloid anymore, so we wouldn’t/shouldn’t use Caucasian anymore either. I prefer “white” as the accepted term.

  • Tom Paine

    This occurred in the U.S. Navy in 1960 give or take a year or two. The aircraft carrier I served on was home ported in Norfolk, Va. A young black sailor was ordered to go to work in one of the engineering spaces by a white Chief Petty Officer . The Chief called him black. Actually, I believe he used another word. The sailor was insulted and told the Chief he as white as him. If the Chief didn’t believe him, he could check his records in the personnel office.

    The Chief did. The records indicated the sailor’s race was caucasian. He was from the United States Virgin Islands. I seem to remember the Chief shaking his head in wonderment which was the best part of all this. I remember their names but the CPO will always be rememembered too as Chief As White As Me. Shaking his head.

  • Vann Anane

    Human variation or the concept of race is not universally agreed upon and is certainly not perceived with the same meaning as it is in the U.S. As regards “Caucasian” used to describe people of a fair or pale skin, has not always been used. Neither have some other terms used during the greater part of the 20th Century to describe other “races.” During most of the 20th Century, Physical Anthropologist divided the human family into three “races” known as Caucasoid, Negroid, and Mongoloid. In the 19th Century thinkers or social scientists who were European divided the human race into five categories referred to by skin color; as White, Black, Brown, yellow, and red. There is very little real science that is used or can be used to determine which racial category to place people in. On what basis do some U.S. Whites place East Indians and North Africans into the Caucasian category when at the same time Mulattos in the U.S. are placed in the Black category or even some Whites who have some African ancestry are considered as Black or in the Negroid category. East Indians, especially, can easily be distinquished from Europeans or “Caucasians, as easily as can Chinese can be distinquished from Whites. If the American definition of so-called African American is applied across the board, many southern Europeans and North Africans would certainly not be classified as White or Caucasian. In the past, Ethiopians were classified as Caucasian while in the U.S. some people who were actually white in appearance were put in the “Negro” or Black category. What about the U.S. government classifying a person as American Indian with 75% White or European ancestry and only 25% aboriginal ancestry. Racial classification is political and uniquely American or a phenomena of the White English speaking world. The concept of race even varies among English speaking Whites. I have heard British speak of the Scottish race or a Canadian speak of the French speaking Canadians as one of the founding races of Canada. Of Course the Nazis divided the white American”s concept of “White race” into Aryan, Slavic, and Teuton. And, of course, the Jews were considered as a race seperate from the Germans.. Of course, White Americans, have their concept of race based on a kind of Pan Europeanism translated into “White” or Caucasian” which are not even seriously shared by some other nationalities that are considered as “Whit” or Caucasian” As regards classifying North Africans as Caucasian, the Black racial mixtures of the North Africans are conveniently ignored. “I once told an Egyptian that some U.S. White Anthropologists consider Egyptians to be Caucasian, his reply was that they can classify me however they wish but I know who I am and no one else can tell me any different.” People never think for themselves, they think as they are told. For example, there was a comment by an assumed White person that other groups in this country are no longer being referred to by the same names, stating the so-called African Americans are no longer referred to as Black, Indians are now referred to as Native Americans and there are the Asian Americans and therefore White people should not be referred to as Caucasian but should be refered to as White which appears rather inconsistent because she does not advocate that White people should also be referred based on ancestry or called European American. As a Black man, it appears rather bizarre that Whites have the hypocrisy of referring to me as an “African American” by race, effectively cutting me off from my Black brothers and sisters around the world. It is true that White can be defined as a race being that people of that appearance is not just found in the U.S. But, an “African American” is not actually a race while as Black is a race, not just found in the U.S. It is evident that U.S. White liberal racists want to promote Pan Europeanism or Pan Whiteism but discourage Black people from engaging in the same.

    Please send a copy of my comments and your response

  • Britt

    I think that the word caucasian should not be used. My ancestors are not from the Caucus region as most definations state the meaning of the word. My ancestors are from Europe mainly England. Shouldn’t we be called European Americans since we came from Europe?

  • Circassian/Caucasian Lady in the UK

    Perhaps this theory may be of use. The continents were clustered together,and perhaps it was at that time, that the nations that were divided changed into the colours they are at now.
    The changes of climate lead to the changes of skin. There are links,not only in colour of skin, but also in cultural connections and DNA patterns. You may find this through Anthropological studies, that have extensive studies of the origin of the white race or caucasian race. Some countries have departments that are specialized in these subjects.

  • kram

    ” don’t call me Ashley “

  • Gina

    Does anyone know how we can get the word caucasian changed to european american or at least get european american added to employment applicatiions, well, all applications?

  • sara

    Actually, my family is from the caucasus, so i guess that means im caucasian.

  • koolie-o

    i dont get why the word “asian” is in the word caucasian so please can someone explain to me
    Thank You!!

  • vanesa

    first of all caucasian is not another word for white.
    and second white is a made up racial term.

    old remains of a homo sapien where found in the caucaus mountains of georgia ,georgia is a country in the middle east next to armenia and iran.
    georgians and armenians HATE it when westeners aka anglos use the term caucasian to use it to only decribe themselves.
    georgians and armenians do not consider westeners the real caucasians.

    anyways after the discovery of the caucaus homo sapien, anthropoligists realized the bone structure was that of many middle easteners , europeans , indians ect. NOT ONLY ANGLO-WESTENERS

    but many anglo western scholars being eurocentric as they are trie to change the word caucasian to only mean them.

    NOT ALL CAUCASIANS ARE ANGLO

    being caucasian has nothing to do with being white, it has to do with bone structure
    anglos areonly 1 sub group of the caucasian race , arabs/semetic are an other sub group then theres the indian sub group, the medditerrean sub group , slavic sub group ect.

    the word was created by westeners e.g the englishman,german ect.
    white was never a racial term it was a trait that any race could have , a skin color NOT A RACE. nobody in the history of the world gave the term white race to the anglos they gave it to themselves.

    anglos are not the only white skinned people in the world so are mongoloids aka chinese ,jappenese ect.
    arabs , indians , can also have white skin.

    i do not get why anglos call themselves white and mongoloids yellow and native americans red which are stupid made up racial terms to begin with. more mogloids have a milky white complexion than anglos have . anglos are way more pink toned then they are white so why don’t we call them pink.

    i don’t consider anglo skin realy white its more pink than anything, they get reddish cheeks and pink undertones . chinese are the true white skinned people as well as other mongoloids. white skinned arabs and indians are more even toned milky white then anglos.

    anglo people have the thinnest skin of all caucasians or anyone in that matter . also they have abnormal melanin production which cause them to get so freckled their thin skin makes that pink complexion and rosy cheeks also their veins show up more.
    there not white there pink brown speckled

  • K. A.

    Bottom line… White people originated in the Isle of Patmos and White people were driven into the Caucasus Mountains before they ventured out to all the different regions to conquer and reek hectic on the rest of the world. It is there that they were taught the “tricknology” needed to colonize and manipulate the original people of the planet Earth. The Caucasus Mountains is where they learned how to walk on 2 feet, clean themselves up and made the dog “Man’s Best friend” (the dog taught them how to hunt for food and were their only companions and still are to this day considered a part of the family!!)

    Thank Moses for his teachings.

  • LoRi

    Caucasian means “cave-dweller” Not sure where it says this but whites were orginally cave people. LOL. HAHA Whites. Yall aint so great afterall. Bible even says so,yall Edomites from Esau. He was born red & whites are shades of red.

  • TRUTH

    caucasion, white, anglo saxon, celt, slavs, or aryan. does’nt matter what you call them. with 900+ generations conceived on glaciers they’re all the same calculated, deceptive, destructive, diseased, variant albino, god-vying beast that they have always been.

  • NnnN

    Wow, so many racists around, especially the one above me!

  • Frank

    LoRi and Truth, Have an inferiority complex. I feel sorry for them, they must be uneducated. Please think before you speak!

  • Ralph

    The oppressed can’t be racist only the oppressor. When you say black people are racist that’s crazy to me. If a woman is being raped and she fights back would you call her a rapist. White people like to shift the blame I’ve noticed instead of owning up to what there ancestors as passed down to them. The Caucasus Mountains is where you originated and then your kind migrated. Thems is just the facts.

  • shawn

    KA, Lori, truth, Ralph – all typical racists. Amazing how dumb some people are. It usually is the ignorant, uneducated ones though.

    Other than those fools, some very interesting and well-thought out comments on here.

    @Vann Anane – really good points. Specifically, I’ve never understood why somebody 1/2 of one race and 1/2 of another can be considered 1 of anything lol. That equation alone doesn’t make any sense. I think eventually everybody will be so mixed up it will be hard to still try and conveniently categorize people into specific racial categories.

  • Amily

    Actually I am from Caucasus – the region around the Causian mountains, and we here call people from our region Caucasians. But this strucks everyone, cause this words is used to refer to people of European origin or people who are White , even though the original classification was broader than this. But the term is connected with Caucasus anyway.

  • Duke

    Definitely some people with inferiority complexes up in this shit! Though I’m glad that you have so much interest in my race to research only the negative shit.
    I’d rather be hated than ignored.

    I’m so glad to be white… feels great!

  • Lobby

    By the way, I’ve seen Black, Brown, (Light) Yellow or Red Coloured people, BUT I haven’t seen White coloured people or race! What do we mean by White, really! Sorry for my ignorance, but I’d some help! Do we mean dough or pork meat coloured people when we refer to White?

    They call it Albino: lack (reduction) of melanin production in my profession, when they usually refer to “white”. Perhaps such race or breed (if you’re talking about animals) is generally a recessive condition, in which the dominant genes are lost, mainly due to inbreeding and canibalism. This is because it was selected in very harsh environment and hence has lost much its genetic diversity, for love compassion, affection..in the struggle for survival but retained such traits as extreme aggressiveness, deep fear and intelligence!

    So I suggest it’d be a better choice to interbreed (crossbreed) the Albino (pork meat, or dough) race with Coloured race so that it’s aggressiveness and criminal traits would be lessened while it’s unique intelligence and stamina be preserved, if any!

    Cheers!

  • peruvian-canadian

    while the semantics of this word are fun to study, i think its not worth stressing out about what “category” society whats to put us in. the human race is simply too diverse to be neatly organized into little piles.

    take me for example: My mother is from Peru, with ansestry from Spain and Yugoslavia, as well as natives. My father is Canadian, with English, Scottish, French, and natvie blood. My appearance is white skin with a yellowish undertone, dark brown eyes and wavy dark brown hair.

    So techinally in “caucasian”

    To end with a cliche that is nonetheless true, i think we should just accept all the different colors and flavors of people as being the variety and spice of life.

  • Kat

    The idea and definition of race needs to be dissolved from our society. Ethnicity is the proper term, regardless of whether they still use Caucasian as an identifier or not. It shouldn’t really matter what we call it and I honestly pity the person who wastes a second of their life worrying about that. Race came about as a way for man to prove other men were inferior to him, which is not the case. All human beings have the same potential (as all human beings are of the same species, no subspecies) and we should all learn to stop seeing color as society has trained us to. Next time, try to make contact with the person who seems so different and you’ll find they aren’t. I doubt they’re as different as you think and making racist comments against any race is only going to prolong racism. I highly doubt that every white person looks at black people as inferior, or that every black person assumes the white person judges them for their skin color. Or yellow people, or red people, etc. Even if they were, you could change their mind by reaching out to them. Nothing is too small to make a difference.

  • John 8:32

    Black African Early Presence Around The Earth-Europe

    Around 50,000 years Before Present (B.P.), during the Upper Paleolithic Period, Black Africoid people arrived from Africa and the Southern Hemisphere into Europe via the Straits of Gibraltar and the Isthmus of Suez. Today, Palaeo, Physical and Forensic Anthropology, as well as Prehistoric-Archaeology have definitively proven that the Black Africoids’ presence and culture was supreme and spread throughout the entire Earth, long before the arrival of Aryan-Whites (Europeans, today) and Mongoloid-Asians. In fact, such Africoid cultural traces have been found all over Europe and Asia, from the Iberian Peninsula (Spain), to Lake Baykal in Siberia, passing through France, Austria, the Crimea and Basin of Don, today’s Russia (Dr. Diop, Civilization or Barbarism, p 15, 1991; Dr. C. Finch, Echoes of the Old Darkland-Themes From the African Eden, 1991, Kenti, Inc., USA, and Ghana Daily Graphic Newspaper, “Europe Founded By Few hundred Africans?” April 24th, 2001, No. 148197, Accra, Ghana.

    Also, geneticist, Dr. Luigi Cavelli Sforza of Stanford University, Palo Alto, California, states that the Caucasoid (Aryan-Whites) and Mongoloid (yellow race) did not come on the Earth until about 26,000 years Before Present. These two racial groups are the products of the Black Africoids’ mutation during the last Ice Age (Dr. Luigi Cavelli Sforza, New York Times Newspaper, July 27th, 1993, article: “A Geneticist Maps Ancient Migration”). According to British anthropologist, Christopher Stringer, of Britain’s Natural History Museum: Africa is the only region that has a continuity of evolution from primitive to modern humans—first modern Europeans and Asians do not show up before 40,000 years Before Present (B.P.), Times Magazine, March 14, 1994.

  • Joe

    Yo man, this be helpful u know wat i saying

  • Eduardo

    I wonder why the people have been so concerned about races through History? There are so many traits that are equally noticeable, like height, weight, language, etc. Why we always seem to focus only on the skin and face complexion? Amazing.

    I’m Chilean with Spanish/French and some Colombian (I guess) roots. White skinned, dark eyes and hair, tall and intelligent enough to mention it without false modesty (IQ=134).

    I do an effort to make contact with other races and cultures all the time, in my work, even having friends from other religions and cultures, and dating ladies out of my “race”, on purpose, jus to learn more about people.

    I noticed that racist people seem to think of races just like a pixelated picture, forcing any shades of grey as black or white, and the decision threshold is unclear and obscure, often subjective.

    My conclusion is, there are no differences between races, but between individuals. Each individual is a race on him/herself.

    Try youself to forget all this stererotypes for a while. Choose to cut the cake on smart and dumbs, educated and uneducated, etc. but not in white, black, green, blue, etc.

  • WOW

    Eduardo,

    That was the first time I ever learnt something useful from a comments section of a web page.

    Thank you,

    WOW

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