Where does the word “Quadroon” come from and What does Quadroon mean?

The descendants of mixed racial unions have been known by many names, most of them sufficiently distinctive to identify immediately the races of the parents.

Many of these names can be traced to the Spanish, who were the great adventurers and explorers of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

We owe to them the terms mestizo and mulatto, the former the child of a European and an American Indian, the latter the child of a European and a Black.

The Spanish word cuarteron (from cuarto, “one fourth”) identifies the child of a European and either a mestizo or a mulatto, and from this word we have our quadroon as a corruption of the French spelling, quarteron.

In more recent times it has acquired the unequivocal meaning indicating an ancestry three-fourths white and one-fourth Black.

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

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