eugenics

noun, plural in form but singular in construction
eu·​gen·​ics | \ yü-ˈje-niks How to pronounce eugenics (audio) \

Definition of eugenics

: the practice or advocacy of controlled selective breeding of human populations (as by sterilization) to improve the population's genetic composition In 1883 Francis Galton, in England, coined the term "eugenics" to encompass the idea of modification of natural selection through selective breeding for the improvement of humankind …— Jeremiah A. Barondess A half-century ago, eugenics became associated with Hitler, genocide and master-race theories, and its reputation has never recovered.— Dan Seligman After the Second World War, "eugenics" became a word to be hedged with caveats in Britain and virtually a dirty word in the United States, where it had long been identified with racism.— Daniel J. Kevles The new advocates of biotechnology speak approvingly of what they term "free-market eugenics."— Dinesh D'Souza

Examples of eugenics in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Catte’s bracing and detailed recreation of the world of Virginia eugenics conveys the full reach of its legacy. Chris Lehmann, The New Republic, "The Chilling Persistence of Eugenics," 20 Apr. 2021 Later in life, the tall, shambling Scotsman (who lived from 1847 to 1922) embraced eugenics, arguing that the deaf should not intermarry lest their offspring make the general population deafer. BostonGlobe.com, "New biography of Alexander Graham Bell complicates the picture," 8 Apr. 2021 Throughout the 20th century, about 20,000 women and men were sterilized in California alone under state eugenics policies, according to researchers. Elinor Aspegren, USA TODAY, "California variant 20% more transmissible than original virus; EU decision to suspend AstraZeneca vaccine questioned: Live COVID-19 updates," 17 Mar. 2021 In North Carolina involuntary eugenics was practiced until 2003; the Eugenics Compensation Act of 2015 allowed the approximately 220 living victims to receive compensatory damages. Gabrielle A. Perry, refinery29.com, "Of Course Black Americans Are Wary Of The COVID Vaccines. Here’s A Path Forward," 22 Dec. 2020 Still, the link between Sanger and eugenics has led to assertions about Planned Parenthood that are false and need to be challenged outright. Dani Mcclain, Harper's BAZAAR, "The Racial Reckoning Happening Inside Planned Parenthood," 23 Nov. 2020 And there was the era of 20th century eugenics, where thousands upon thousands of African American women who went to state health facilities for routine medical procedures were sterilized without their knowledge. al, "Will the Tuskegee Syphilis Study keep Blacks from taking COVID vaccine?," 14 Dec. 2020 In 2016, the year Planned Parenthood celebrated its centennial, the organization published a fact sheet intended to clarify Sanger’s relationship to eugenics. Dani Mcclain, Harper's BAZAAR, "The Racial Reckoning Happening Inside Planned Parenthood," 23 Nov. 2020 The eugenics movement tapped into this, measuring deviations from assumed norms, Smith said, and the presupposition that disability is something negative in need of fixing continues to inform modern medicine. Cara Buckley, New York Times, "Scary Is How You Act, Not Look, Disability Advocates Tell Filmmakers," 17 Nov. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'eugenics.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of eugenics

1883, in the meaning defined above

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The first known use of eugenics was in 1883

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Last Updated

25 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Eugenics.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/eugenics. Accessed 14 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for eugenics

eugenics

noun

English Language Learners Definition of eugenics

: a science that tries to improve the human race by controlling which people become parents

eugenics

noun, plural in form but singular in construction
eu·​gen·​ics | \ yu̇-ˈjen-iks How to pronounce eugenics (audio) \

Medical Definition of eugenics

: the practice or advocacy of controlled selective breeding of human populations (as by sterilization) to improve the population's genetic composition

More from Merriam-Webster on eugenics

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for eugenics

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about eugenics

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