Caucasian

Caucasian

[kaw-key-zhuhn, -shuhn, -kazh-uhn, -kash-]
adjective Also, Caucasic [kaw-kas-ik, -kaz-] .
1.
Anthropology. of, pertaining to, or characteristic of one of the traditional racial divisions of humankind, marked by fair to dark skin, straight to tightly curled hair, and light to very dark eyes, and originally inhabiting Europe, parts of North Africa, western Asia, and India: no longer in technical use.
2.
of or pertaining to the Caucasus mountain range.
3.
of or related to the non-Indo-European, non-Turkic languages of the Caucasus region.
noun
4.
Anthropology. a member of the peoples traditionally classified as the caucasian race, especially those peoples having light to fair skin: no longer in technical use.
5.
a native of Caucasia.

Origin:
1800–10; < Latin Caucasi(us) (< Greek Kaukásios, equivalent to Kaúkas(os) Caucasus + -ios adj. suffix) + -an

non-Caucasian, adjective, noun


Coined by German anthropologist Johann Friedrich Blumenbach at the turn of the 19th century, the racial classification Caucasian has sparked plenty of debate in its short time in the English language. First there’s the issue of Blumenbach’s mistaken etymology: he erroneously placed the origins of the “White” race in the Caucasus mountain region. He also, not at all humbly, knocked his predecessor, Carl Linnaeus’ singular method of studying teeth to determine race, calling it “artificial” and asserting that it “came every day to be encumbered with more troublesome anomalies.” Blumenbach, on the other hand, emphasized the importance of studying the entire skull to understand the quandary that is race.
When anthropologists first started studying race, white supremacy was popularly accepted. Blumenbach was, at least, a bit more progressive than his contemporaries, in that he believe that all men belonged to the same species, even if he considered the Caucasian race—his own race—to be the original type and the “most handsome and becoming” of all five races (Caucasian, Mongolian, Ethiopian, Malayan, and American) in his now-outdated classification.
The language of race is undeniably a sensitive issue. Words that were once perfectly acceptable become dated and offensive. In his book The Rise and Fall of the Caucasian Race, Bruce David Baum notes: “[T]he notion of a Caucasian race has gone in and out of vogue…in popular usage since it was invented in the late eighteenth century.” In a 2008 speech Hillary Clinton used the term “Caucasian,” however, the writers of the 2010 U.S. Census form opted to use the term “White” over “Caucasian” in the question about race. For most Americans, the terms are interchangeable. With that in mind, it’s probably best to choose your words carefully when in the presence of anthropologists.


The Caucasian Chalk Circle: A 1944 modernist play by German playwright Bertolt Brecht.
Caucasian Review of International Affairs: An academic journal dealing with the Caucasus region, published quarterly.
—Caucasian Ovcharka: A breed of dogs, also called the Caucasian Shepard.

“[T]he status of Caucasian…as a scientifically credible racial category…is arguably no better than that of an Aryan race.“
—Bruce David Baum, The rise and fall of the Caucasian race: a political history of racial identity (2006)
“Eighteen million of you, from all walks of life—women and men, young and old, Latino and Asian, African-American and Caucasian, rich, poor, and middle-class, gay and straight, you have stood with me.“
—Hillary Clinton, in a speech announcing suspension of presidential campaign and Obama support, American Rhetoric (delivered June 7, 2008)
“The Caucasian mountains have not as yet attracted the attention of geologists in a degree corresponding to their real importance in the history of the formation of the earth's crust.“
—V. Dingelstedt, “The Igneous Rocks of the Caucasus“ Scottish Geographical Magazine, Volume 12 (1896)
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
Caucasian or Caucasic (kɔːˈkeɪzɪən, -ʒən, kɔːˈkeɪzɪk)
 
adj
1.  old-fashioned another word for Caucasoid
2.  of or relating to the Caucasus
 
n
3.  a White person; a Caucasoid
4.  a native or inhabitant of Caucasia
5.  any of three possibly related families of languages spoken in the Caucasus: North-West Caucasian, including Circassian and Abkhaz, North-East Caucasian, including Avar, and South Caucasian including Georgian
 
usage  The word Caucasian is very widely used in the US to refer to people of European origin or people who are White, even though the original classification was broader than this
 
Caucasic or Caucasic
 
adj
 
n
 
usage  The word Caucasian is very widely used in the US to refer to people of European origin or people who are White, even though the original classification was broader than this

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Etymonline
Word Origin & History

Caucasian
1807, from Caucasus Mountains, between the Black and Caspian seas; applied to the "white" race 1795 (in Ger.) by Ger. anthropologist Johann Blumenbach, because their supposed ancestral homeland lay there; since abandoned as a historical/anthropological term. Lit. meaning "resident or native of the Caucasus"
is from 1843 (see Caucasus).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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