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

Examples of eugenics in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Intelligence testing originated in the early 1900s and became a key part of the eugenics movement, which propagated racist ideas that people of certain ethnicities were genetically less intelligent than those of European descent. Kristen Taketa, San Diego Union-Tribune, 1 May 2022 Professors and administrators promoted the study of eugenics, and Harvard admitted only about three black students per year during the period between 1890 and 1940. Grayson Quay, The Week, 28 Apr. 2022 By the early 20th century, Virginia’s eugenics movement and the Racial Integrity Act of 1924 aimed to eliminate the entire classification of Native Americans, declaring that every resident had to be either Black or White. Washington Post, 27 Mar. 2022 Impelled by the racist practice known as eugenics, California forcibly sterilized more than 20,000 people from 1909 to 1979. Carolyn Said, San Francisco Chronicle, 11 Feb. 2022 Wagner-Jauregg won a Nobel Prize for this discovery, but his work would be overshadowed by his endorsement of eugenics and eventual support for the Nazis. Roxanne Khamsi, The Atlantic, 17 Nov. 2021 Abby Epstein’s latest documentary highlights the dark history of eugenics and underfunded research that the birth control pill, often heralded as a feminist turning point in the history of reproductive rights, hides within itself. Christopher Rosa, Glamour, 14 Nov. 2021 The environmental movement held close ties to eugenicism, and the first head of the US Forest Service, Gifford Pinchot, was active in the eugenics movement. Leah Asmelash, CNN, 14 Dec. 2021 Sanger’s belief in eugenics has long marred her legacy — a legacy that Planned Parenthood itself has acknowledged and denounced. Washington Post, 6 Nov. 2021 See More

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.

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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Dictionary Entries Near eugenics

eugenicist

eugenics

Eugénie

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Statistics for eugenics

Last Updated

19 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Eugenics.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/eugenics. Accessed 24 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for eugenics

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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