Also found in: Thesaurus, Legal, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.


A person having white ancestors except for one black great-grandparent. Used especially as a classification under certain European colonial legal systems and now considered offensive.

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.


(ˌɒktəˈruːn) or


old-fashioned offensive a person having one quadroon and one White parent and therefore having one-eighth Black blood. Compare quadroon
[C19: octo- + -roon as in quadroon]
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014


(ˌɒk təˈrun)

a person having one-eighth black ancestry; the offspring of a quadroon and a white.
[1855–60, Amer.]
Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.octoroon - an offspring of a quadroon and a white parent; a person who is one-eighth black
archaicism, archaism - the use of an archaic expression
mixed-blood - a person whose ancestors belonged to two or more races
Based on WordNet 3.0, Farlex clipart collection. © 2003-2012 Princeton University, Farlex Inc.
References in classic literature ?
They are octoroons and African half-bloods of various shades, but I fear we English think all foreigners are much the same so long as they are dark and dirty.
These include, to list just a few of the most prominent names, Branden Jacobs-Jenkins (An Octoroon, Gloria), Dominique Morisseau (Pipeline, Skeleton Crew), Jeremy O.
Coming after "Gloria" and his 2014 Obie-winning "An Octoroon"--both brimming with ideas--playwright Branden Jacobs-Jenkins' new work, "War," is a bit of a buzzkill.
Fourteen chapters and conclusion are: driving race work; working together; advertising and the commercial spirit; donAEt quit your day job; retooling the kitchen sink; beaten, battered, and brawny; hidden in plain sight; African American waiters and cakewalk contest in Florida East Coast resorts of the Gilded age; Dion BoucicaultAEs The Octoroon and the work of republicanism; myth made manifest; labor, theatre, and the dream of the White City; blue-collar bard; songs of salaried warriors; working on a masterpiece; conclusion: waiting in the wingsuwork.
Across the four stories, the geniuses are uniformly the black men and women struggling against their position in society, while Taine, whom we are invited to call the hero of the stories, is a smallish and somewhat effeminate man who, at different points, is able to pass both as an "octoroon" (a person with a one-eighth black ancestry) and as a charming young woman.
Part 3, "Myth, Memory, and Manifestation: The Work of the Public Mind," includes: Elizabeth Reitz Mullenix, "Dion Boucicault's The Octoroon and the Work of Republicanism" (139-55); AnnMarie T.
Davenport, an article in the weekly New York magazine Outlook and Independent notes "a matter commented on by numerous scientific observers who agree that [...] the primitive sex-appeal of the octoroon girl is potent." Caleb Johnson (1931), "Crossing the Color Line," Outlook and Independent 158, August 26, 526.
When one of my friends told me that I was the last person she'd have expected to marry a black woman, and I replied that my wife wasn't black, I got: "I know, but you're not allowed to call them coloured these days, are you?" Even I was shocked when a colleague only last week described his personal trainer as "a half caste", blissfully unaware that this is a term long since consigned to the banned list along with quadroon and octoroon, Mongol and spastic.
3) Succinct Facts: "Octoroon" violated 1890 LA Sep Car Act to challenge its constitutionality under 13th/14th Ams.
Years later when she visits the dying Father Benjamin, Grace asks if he can tell her anything of Mary, and when she is forced through circumstance to take a job as an administrator in a hospital, she finds herself searching through patient files for any information and finds that her 'heart would skip a beat when the words octoroon or half-caste popped up' (p.147); when someone else occupies Mary's former bed she wonders what Mary would think, and in the closing pages, Grace is kept awake at night thinking of 'the lost chance of Mary' and everything she 'must regret' (p.
To make Iola Leroy acceptable to a white audience, the black heroine would have to be physically almost white, a mulatto, quadroon, or octoroon. She would have to be beautiful and well-bred (Christian, 1985; 197).
For example, in Absalom, Absalom!, the octoroon, whose relationship with Charles Bon is deemed sexually taboo by many of the other characters, has a house that is "cloyed" and "scented" and, most importantly, her room itself is described as "impregnated" with smell (158-59).