Because of the term's historical use in contexts that typically implied disapproval, more unambiguously neutral terms such as interracial, interethnic or cross-cultural are more common in contemporary usage.The term miscegenation has been used since the 19th century to refer to interracial marriage and interracial sexual relations, The Latin term entered historical records during European colonialism and the Age of Discovery, but societies such as China and Japan also had restrictions on marrying with people whom they considered to be of a different race.In the present day, the word miscegenation is avoided by many scholars, because the term suggests a concrete biological phenomenon, rather than a categorization imposed on certain relationships.
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.
Portuguese also uses miscigenação, derived from the same Latin root as the English word.
These non-English terms for "race-mixing" are not considered as offensive as "miscegenation", although they have historically been tied to the caste system (Casta) that was established during the colonial era in Spanish-speaking Latin America.
Some groups in South America, however, consider the use of the word mestizo offensive because it was used during the times of the colony to refer specifically to the mixing between the conquistadores and the indigenous people.