It's nowadays generally considered offensive to use "mongoloid" or the like to refer to Down's Syndrome.

But what about with regards to race? Would it be offensive or unusual to talk about "the Mongolian race" (referring to East Asians in general, not people from Mongolia or ethnic Mongols), beyond any offence generated from talking about race in the first place?

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    The use of Caucusoid, Mongoloid, and (especially) Negroid to broadly delineate race is indeed obsolete and has fallen into disfavor. You could use "Mongolian" to describe someone from Mongolia, of course, but not general East Asians. Race in general is a very touchy subject, and best practice is to treat err on the side of caution (i.e. if you even think a term might give offense, don't use it) by being as specific as possible. – Dan Bron Jun 24 '15 at 13:26
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    Apparently, the OP is confused. The objection is to the use of the term wrt the disorder and not the race. " – Kris Jun 24 '15 at 13:32
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    The term mongol was adopted in the late 19th century to refer to a person with Down’s syndrome, owing to the similarity of some of the physical symptoms of the disorder with the normal facial characteristics of East Asian people. In modern English this use is now unacceptable and considered offensive. It has been replaced in scientific as well as in most general contexts by the term Down’s syndrome (first recorded in the early 1960s)." Dictionaries define the term primarily as "A native or inhabitant of Mongolia" oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/Mongol – Kris Jun 24 '15 at 13:32
  • See also: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mongols – Kris Jun 24 '15 at 13:32
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    One should generally use racial/ethnic identifiers with the utmost of care (if at all). And the use of such identifiers to refer to people other than those who are actually of the specified race or ethnicity should especially be avoided. And don't use any of the "-oid" words at all. – Hot Licks Jun 24 '15 at 14:07

It's outdated, and like most outdated racial terms, it automatically sounds racist by connotation. This has less to do with any specifics of accuracy, and more to do with the fact that the era of its popular usage was shockingly racist as judged by current standards. In general, a person who uses a outdated racial term is assumed (correctly or incorrectly) to have outdated racial ideas.


I don't think there is anything wrong in a grammatical sense, which is technically all this site should deal with.

But really there is more to it than that: the reason you cannot use mongoloid any more is that it relates to a discredited theory about all humans belonging to one of three races, related no doubt to the three sons of Noah. I am not sure why you think 'Mongolian' is a good term to refer to all East Asians, but if that is what your theory holds, it's not specifically derogatory - provided you don't mind people saying "You're Australian? Do you belong to the English race or the Aboriginal one?" If you do object, perhaps you need a better theory.

  • I wouldn't use the word "Mongolian" this way, but I came across someone on Skeptics Stack Exchange using it that way last night, and I didn't know if I should advise them not to use such language. – Andrew Grimm Jun 24 '15 at 22:11

The terms "Caucasoid," "Mongoloid," and "Negroid" are inevitably tied to the racial theories of the people who coined and used the terms. These theories included skin color as a determinative, and they have been abandoned by scientists and reasonable people. The terms remain in use in forensic anthropology and are restricted to classification of people by bone measurements, particularly craniometry.

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