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In Spanish, Portuguese, and French, the words used to describe the mixing of races are mestizaje, mestiçagem and métissage.
These words, much older than the term miscegenation, are derived from the Late Latin mixticius for "mixed", which is also the root of the Spanish word mestizo.
In Portuguese-speaking Latin America (i.e., Brazil), a milder form of caste system existed, although it also provided for legal and social discrimination among individuals belonging to different races, since slavery for black people existed until the late 19th century.
Only in November 1864 was the pamphlet exposed as a hoax.
Borrowing Boulainvilliers' discourse on the "Nordic race" as being the French aristocracy that invaded the plebeian "Gauls", he showed his contempt for the lowest social class, the Third Estate, calling it "this new people born of slaves ... Miscegenation comes from the Latin miscere, "to mix" and genus, "kind". The reference to genus was made to emphasize the supposedly distinct biological differences between whites and non-whites, though all humans belong to the same genus, Homo, and the same species, Homo sapiens.
The word was coined in an anonymous propaganda pamphlet published in New York City in December 1863, during the American Civil War.
It was used specifically to refer to interracial marriage and interracial sexual relations.
Although the term "miscegenation" was formed from the Latin miscere "to mix" plus genus "race" or "kind", and could therefore be perceived as value-neutral, it is almost always used in a negative way, as something to be avoided, punished or outlawed.
In the present day, the word miscegenation is avoided by many scholars, because the term suggests that race is a concrete biological phenomenon, rather than a categorization imposed on certain relationships.