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A member of a group of people living primarily in the southern Appalachians, thought to be descended from a mixture of southern European, Middle Eastern, African, and Native American peoples.

[Perhaps ultimately from French mélange, mixture (the French word being brought to the Appalachians by Huguenot settlers from Virginia); see mélange, or from African and Brazilian Portuguese malungo, comrade, person transported on the same slave ship as oneself (probably from Mbundu malungo, companion, adopted brother, or a kindred Bantu source).]
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.


(Peoples) any of a dark-skinned group of people of the Appalachians in E Tennessee, of mixed Indian, White, and Black ancestry
[C20: of unknown origin]
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014
References in periodicals archive ?
Melungeon Portraits: Exploring Kinship and Identity
After all, R.C., one of Smith's characters, is a Melungeon, although he passes for white.
Suddenly melungeon!: Reconstructing consumer identity across the color line.
Through the back door; Melungeon literacies and twenty-first-century technologies.
See Brewton Berry, Almost White (New York: Macmillan, 1963); Virginia DeMarce, "Looking at Legends--Lumbee and Melungeon: Applied Genealogy and the Origins of Tri-Racial Isolate Settlements," National Genealogical Society Quarterly 81 (March 1993): 24-45; DeMarce, "'Verry Slitly Mixt': Tri-Racial Isolate Families of the Upper South--A Genealogical Study," National Genealogical Society Quarterly 80 (March 1992): 5-35; Guy B.
It would take a good century after MacRaker's death for those people to be distinguished from the Cherokee, and be called Melungeon: They had been around these parts for longer than anyone could remember, even the Cherokees.
When legal segregation began to break down in the 1950s and 1960s, so did the strict outsider status of the "little races." Today, labels such as Brass Ankle, Redbone, and Melungeon are almost quaint, and Southerners whose grandparents would have been ashamed of their heritage are now seeking ways to discover information about their ancestry that earlier generations did their best to conceal.
Loewenstein: It seems you've created a new breed of man - the Melungeon man?
The electronic front porch; an oral history of the arrival of modern media in rural Appalachia and the Melungeon community.
Moreover, many Melungeons dark-skinned Appalachian mountain people of uncertain origin reside in Mason County, and Bridger is half Melungeon.