Caucasian

adjective

Cau·​ca·​sian kȯ-ˈkā-zhən How to pronounce Caucasian (audio)
kä-,
 also  -ˈka-zhən
1
: of or relating to the Caucasus or its inhabitants
were forced to leave their Caucasian homeland
2
: of or relating to a group of people having European ancestry, classified according to physical traits (such as light skin pigmentation), and formerly considered to constitute a race (see race entry 1 sense 1a) of humans

Note: People of North African and southwest Asian ancestry were historically also sometimes considered to be of the Caucasian race.

Caucasian noun
Caucasoid adjective or noun

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Caucasian vs. White

Caucasian has two fairly distinct meanings, and the difference between them occasionally leads people to aver that one of them is incorrect. The earliest sense of the word is a literal one: “of or relating to the Caucasus (a region in southeastern Europe between the Black and Caspian seas) or its inhabitants.” The second refers to the racial group commonly referred to as white.

The objection to using Caucasian to refer to a white person is that many whites do not actually come from the Caucasus region. Be this as it may, there is no rule in language stipulating that the formation of a word must be based on logic; were this the case we would not call members of this racial group either Caucasian or white, since there are very few whose skin color is in fact that exact shade.

Examples of Caucasian in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Outside sources called in by coroner’s and homicide investigators determined that the remains belonged to a Caucasian or Latino man, over 40 years old, who was 5-foot-6 to 5-foot-8, according to the Sheriff’s Department. Nathan Solis, Los Angeles Times, 9 Feb. 2024 As the sole Caucasian employee of Tokyo’s largest newspaper, Jake Adelstein (Ansel Elgort) — a real-life journalist and executive producer of the show, which is loosely based on his memoir of the same name — stood out like a sore thumb. Alison Herman, Variety, 8 Feb. 2024 But her win attracted an unusual amount of controversy — because she was born in Ukraine, and is Caucasian in appearance. Julia Mio Inuma, Washington Post, 6 Feb. 2024 The breeds with the shortest lifespans were Caucasian shepherds (5.4 years), presa canarios (7.7 years) and cane corsos (8.1 years). Sarah Kuta, Smithsonian Magazine, 2 Feb. 2024 Then on a human layer, that becomes even more problematic if the datasets are predominantly of Caucasian individuals and predominantly male individuals. IEEE Spectrum, 28 Jan. 2024 Investigators had determined in 2010 that the hair found on Brainard-Barnes’s body was a Caucasian head hair fragment. Maham Javaid, Washington Post, 16 Jan. 2024 There’s a Black box, Latino box and a Caucasian box. Yvonne Villarreal, Los Angeles Times, 21 Dec. 2023 Being third gen can also leave me feeling not Turkish enough when in the company of extended family, but then also apparently not British enough when out with someone who can’t relate, is Caucasian, or has never had their identity questioned. Tanyel Mustafa, refinery29.com, 5 Dec. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'Caucasian.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1668, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of Caucasian was in 1668

Dictionary Entries Near Caucasian

Cite this Entry

“Caucasian.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/Caucasian. Accessed 22 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition

Caucasian

adjective
Cau·​ca·​sian kȯ-ˈkā-zhən How to pronounce Caucasian (audio)
-ˈkazh-ən
1
: of or relating to the Caucasus or persons living there
2
: of, constituting, or characteristic of a race of humankind native to Europe, North Africa, and southwest Asia and classified according to physical features
used especially in referring to light-skinned persons of European descent
Caucasian noun

Medical Definition

Caucasian

adjective
Cau·​ca·​sian ˈkȯ-ˈkā-zhən, -ˈkazh-ən How to pronounce Caucasian (audio)
: of or relating to a group of people having European ancestry, classified according to physical traits (as light skin pigmentation), and formerly considered to constitute a race of humans
Caucasian noun

More from Merriam-Webster on Caucasian

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