The term's historical use in contexts that typically implied disapproval is also a reason why more unambiguously neutral terms such as interracial, interethnic or cross-cultural are more common in contemporary usage.In Spanish, Portuguese, and French, the words used to describe the mixing of races are mestizaje, mestiçagem and métissage.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mixing between the conquistadores and the indigenous people.After the Second World War, an increasing number of states repealed their anti-miscegenation laws. Virginia, the remaining anti-miscegenation laws were held to be unconstitutional by the Supreme Court of the United States.Similar laws were also enforced in Nazi Germany as part of the Nuremberg laws, and in South Africa as part of the system of Apartheid.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, 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 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 blacks existed until the late 19th century.
In the United States, interracial marriage, cohabitation and sex have been termed "miscegenation" since the term was coined in 1863.
Contemporary usage of the term is less frequent, except to refer to historical laws banning the practice.
In the United States, there have been no nationwide anti-miscegenation laws. Typically defining miscegenation as a felony, these laws prohibited the solemnization of weddings between persons of different races and prohibited the officiating of such ceremonies.
However, there were state laws in individual states, particularly in the Southern States and the Plains States, that prohibited miscegenation. Sometimes, the individuals attempting to marry would not be held guilty of miscegenation itself, but felony charges of adultery or fornication would be brought against them instead.