mestizo māstē´sō [key] [Span.,=mixture], person of mixed race particularly, in Mexico and Central and South America, a person of European (Spanish or Portuguese) and indigenous descent. The mestizos constitute a large part of the population in several Latin American countries they are in various places also called by other names, e.g., ladinos in Guatemala, caboclos in Brazil. The word is primarily applied to a mixture of racial strains, but it has acquired social and cultural connotations it may be applied to pure-blooded indigenous people who adopt European dress and customs. All persons of mixed race are called mestizos in the Philippines.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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