Since when did the term "half-caste" become an insult?

12 Answers

Relevance
  • 7 months ago

    during the British colonial period, I believe. Caste was used to mean "ethnicity" or "race" in a very loose sense. The idea was half-not European in descent (miscegenation; the result of interracial breeding). It is somewhat like how "bastard" is used to illegitimize the offspring of a socially-unacceptable union. Same concept: mixing of peoples that should not be mixed according to the views of the judger.

    • Login to reply the answers
  • sepia
    Lv 7
    7 months ago

    The term 'half-caste' is indeed used to describe someone of mixed-race (mixed-parentage, mixed-heritage, or whatever other term is in vogue now). The reason that it is offensive, however, is because the word itself has nothing to do with ethnicity.

    Caste is a word describing social grouping or status and the term half-caste describes somebody who is not completely worthy of high caste status because one of their parents is from a lower caste, as was the case when blacks were considered by the consensus to be of lower privilege than whites.

    • John P
      Lv 7
      7 months agoReport

      In Britain, possibly some time in the 1960s or early 70s. Await answers from the USA about habits there, but note that the whole skin colour "thing" was and is far more intensive and sensitive there than it was and is in Britain.

    • Login to reply the answers
  • Zirp
    Lv 7
    7 months ago

    I think you mean "half-cast"

    It became an insult (probably always was) when people believed that humans came in races, and that being of one race was "superior" than having parents of different races

    Only after WW2 scientists figured out that all humans alive are the same race

    • ...Show all comments
    • John P
      Lv 7
      7 months agoReport

      The usual spelling in Britain is "half caste". To me, something "half cast" would be a metal object, partly cast and partly wrought.

    • Login to reply the answers
  • Anonymous
    7 months ago

    It was always an insult for two reasons.

    1. Mixed-race people were looked down on.

    2. Half-caste represented a dilution of the caste system. Such people did not feel so bound to the caste of their native parent, plus the influence of their British parent who apparently didn't care much about the rules of social stratification anyway. Thus the "half-caste" was more likely to be what the British considered a "trouble-maker."

    • Login to reply the answers
  • How do you think about the answers? You can sign in to vote the answer.
  • 7 months ago

    The term was invented to name a category of human being in a certain culture and period of time when being such a person was considered unfortunate. It meant that your father - usually white - had had sex with a non-white woman. The woman may or may not have been his wife, but the resulting mixed child was called a 'half-caste' regardless.

    • Login to reply the answers
  • 7 months ago

    Since the Brits started using it to describe Indian and Australian natives who looked too pale.

    • Login to reply the answers
  • 7 months ago

    Half cast comes from Latin caste = pure. “Half pure” sound more offensive now?

  • 7 months ago

    Probably a couple of hundred years ago

    • Login to reply the answers
  • drip
    Lv 7
    7 months ago

    It always was a derogatory term.

  • 7 months ago

    Mixed race is much nicer and more polite. "Caste" suggests the system they have in India. It depends what country the asker means ? I am not sure when the name changed.

    • Login to reply the answers
Still have questions? Get your answers by asking now.