I am searching for a word that means ‘of another race’ to be used in context of a sentence such as

"She was deeply protective to her [of other race] foster children."

"They shunned the [other race] people."

The definition of race that I am referring to can be best defined as follows(from Google definitions):

each of the major divisions of humankind, having distinct physical characteristics. "people of all races, colours, and creeds" synonyms: ethnic group, racial type, (ethnic) origin "the school has pupils of many different races"

Here the 'other race' may mean just one race, or several. Through my research I was unable to locate such a word, except directly using the racial identity e.g. white, Native American etc., which is not what I want to achieve.

To add further clarification, the 'other race' in this context does not necessarily refer to an ethnic minority. Actually first example was based on a contradictory situation in the tv series Strange Empire, where a Metis woman is foster mother to two orphaned white girls.

To answer several questions raised in the Meta discussion:

While 'people of another race' can be very well referred to by their race or nation, I want to emphasize on the distinction of race, not the particular race.

For example,

"The rich, white mining owner ruthlessly overworked the (people of other race) labourers."


"The rich, white mining owner ruthlessly overworked the Black, Mexican and Chinese labourers."

The standard words such as foreign, outsider, alien, etc. are not acceptable because a person from another race is not necessarily any of these. A Native American in the US is not a foreigner, outsider or alien.

  • 2
    Can you please include some research? Have you considered any words prior to posting this question? Including them(with specific reasons as to why they didn't work) will avoid duplication of efforts from the answerer's side.
    – BiscuitBoy
    Commented Feb 5, 2016 at 7:51
  • 5
    My research revealed no such word and I have amended the question to reflect so. I find that downvotes simply because the user provides no examples is hostile to a newbie. Surprisingly, I've noted higher ranked users posting questions with no indication of prior research and not receiving downvotes.
    – dgun
    Commented Feb 7, 2016 at 2:57
  • 9
    Your question seems understandable to me; I don't know why it has gotten such negative reactions from people. I posted a Meta question about it here: meta.english.stackexchange.com/questions/7681/… I'm wondering if one strategy might be to find a word for people who share the same race, then negate it.
    – herisson
    Commented Feb 7, 2016 at 7:07
  • 2
    I don't think there is a single word that describes this concept, would you be equally satisfied with a short phrase or idiomatic expression?
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Feb 7, 2016 at 7:36
  • 1
    To be clear, are you looking for a word or phrase that stands for any 'other' race generically? (for example, like 'foreign' works for any other country)
    – Mitch
    Commented Feb 7, 2016 at 14:00

5 Answers 5


There is a word miscegenate, from the Greek for "mixed race" (misce-, -genus) which would provide a clue.

The Greek for other is allos, which provides prefixes allo- (as in allophone) and the Latin al- (as in alibi).

So a word one could coin is allogenate or possibly allogenous or allogeneous.

In fact, allogenous is mapped on to allogeneous in OED:

rare before 19th cent.
Different or distinct in kind; (in later use freq.) spec. belonging to or consisting of a distinct ethnic group.

Allogeneous would appear to be exactly the word:

1666 G. Thomson Λοιμοτομια i. 18 We are thus beset on every side with such an allogeneous, pernicious matter, that doth frequently infest us.
2007 Callaloo 30 653 Making the presence of allogeneous groups (especially African ethnicities) on Italian soil suddenly visible.

Its use would suppose that the readership is sufficiently well-versed to extract its meaning, and something like racially-different or ethnically distinct is certainly more accessible.

  • 4
    You'd have to say allogeneous race though, otherwise it wouldn't make any sense in the OP's example: She was deeply protective to her allogeneous foster children, sounds like the children were possibly non-human.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Feb 9, 2016 at 11:39
  • 3
    Foster children are more likely to be children than puppies, and the definition of allogeneous is "belonging to or consisting of a distinct ethnic group," which would tend not to indicate anything but human.
    – Andrew Leach
    Commented Feb 9, 2016 at 12:39
  • 4
    allogeneous is from a completely different register than that of the examples given in the OP. He overworked the allogeneous ranch hands would be ridiculous.
    – TimR
    Commented Feb 9, 2016 at 16:28
  • 2
    @Mari-LouA: Actually non-human genetic heritage wold be described as xenogeneic.
    – DWin
    Commented Feb 10, 2016 at 1:51
  • 3
    These words may technically meet the required definition, but they are not by any stretch of the imagination common English words that would be understood in a casual context.
    – Jay
    Commented Feb 12, 2016 at 15:11

I don't think there is an appropriate one-word adjective to use in your sentences. You could consider using racially different to mean that they are of different race.

The Racially Different Psychiatrist—Implications for Psychotherapy

The race of the therapist can play a significant role in the manifestation of transference and counter-transference phenomena in inter-racial psychotherapy. References to the race of therapist may be the first sign of a developing transference relationship. Failure to appreciate the impact of racial difference can impede therapeutic progress while sensitive confrontation may be a valuable tool in the recognition and communication of emotionally charged feelings in therapy.

[Australian & New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry]

Your examples:

She was deeply protective of her racially different foster children.

They shunned the racially different people.

But it would be more idiomatic to use

She was deeply protective of her foster children of another (different) race.

They shunned the people of another (different) race.


Commenting to the attempt to coin (or perhaps resurrect) the terms "allogenate(n.) or possibly allogenous(adj.) or allogeneous(adj.)". In the medical field the word "allogeneic" (or allogenic") is standard terminology for biological material coming from a person who is not genetically identical to the recipient. The antonyms in either direction are "autologous" for derived from self and "xenogeneic" (from other species).

Race is severely problematic to define rigorously. There is skin color which in dermatologic practice has a "type" system for the degree of melanin pigmentation on a 5 unit scale. There are minor variations in epicanthal folds. There was an entire field of study, now mostly discredited, cataloguing minor facial and skeletal variations There are differences in cultural and national origin. In American use of the last century it was fairly common to hear or see the term "colored" for any "non-White" person. This had a disparaging connotation and was retooled to "person of color", despite the glaringly obvious fact the everyone has color.

  • Thank you for your explanation of the medical meaning of "allogenic." It might be more effective if placed as a comment below Andrew Leach's answer. He will only receive notice if you do that.
    – herisson
    Commented Feb 12, 2016 at 16:08
  • Regarding your second paragraph: where is anyone trying to define race rigorously? For the purposes of the original question, we can use a Potter Stewart–esque "I know it when I see it" criterion; it's clear that most people are not colorblind. Would you tell people not to use the word "racism" because it refers to this severely problematic concept of race?
    – herisson
    Commented Feb 12, 2016 at 16:10

For the specific case of adoption and foster children, the term is "mixed race". See, for example, http://www.bbc.com/news/education-12513403 or https://adoption.com/forums/thread/363328/torn-about-mixed-race-adoption/

She was very protective of her mixed-race foster children.

(Yes, this doesn't necessarily make sense if taken literally. If the parents are white and all the children are black, the children are not of mixed races but of only one race. Presumably the idea is that the family as a whole is now of mixed race, even though the adjective is applied to the children and not the family. In any case, a lot of accepted terms are not necessarily literally accurate if you take apart the individual words. Like the last computer I bought came with a sheet of safety warnings that included a statement that I should not try to put it on my lap to use it because it produces a lot of heat and I could burn myself. But it was marketed as a "laptop computer".)

I don't think it's an accepted term outside the context of families. Like if an Asian boss had one employee and that employee was Hispanic, would we say, "The Asian employer and his mixed race employee ..."? Or if he had many employees, some Asian, some white, some black, some Hispanic, and you said, "The Asian boss discriminated against his mixed race employees", would that be understood to mean he discrimainted against the non-Asians as opposed to the Asians? Maybe in context that would be the only meaning that would make sense.

You can also say that an individual person is of mixed race, meaning that he has one parent of one race and the other parent of another race, or different races mixing further back, so there could be ambiguity there.

  • @sumelic Oops, that's what comes of googling for an example and grabbing the first hit without reading it closely.
    – Jay
    Commented Feb 12, 2016 at 19:48
  • Thanks for updating! I also found the term "transracial adoptions" used in a linked article: bbc.com/news/education-11672674
    – herisson
    Commented Feb 12, 2016 at 19:51
  • From the BBC link: In the past, many children from ethnic minorities do not get adopted because social workers have been keen to place them with families of the same background.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Feb 16, 2016 at 9:02
  • So, are the BBC using a very inaccurate term there? If I say "I have adopted a child of mixed race" that means the child is biracial. "I have mixed race children" is ambiguous. Does it mean that all my children are biracial, or that each child is of a different ‘race’? And this is supposed to answer the OP's question, is it?
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Feb 16, 2016 at 9:03
  • 1
    @Mari-LouA Sure, language is often ambiguous.
    – Jay
    Commented Feb 16, 2016 at 14:12

If the foster mother is white or is herself from an ethnic minority group, the following phrase, ethnic minority group, is probably the best solution, and one least likely to cause offence or misunderstanding.

  1. She was deeply protective towards her foster children from ethnic minority groups.

ethnic minority
a ​group of ​people of a ​particular ​race or ​nationality ​living in a ​country or ​area where most ​people are from a different ​race or ​nationality

Google book results for "children from" ethnic minorities e.g. “Bilingual children from ethnic minority groups in the Netherlands are less successful in secondary schools than are Dutch children of the same age.”

The expression also fits in nicely with the OP's second example

  1. They shunned the ethnic minorities.

If, however, the children fostered are Caucasian but not their foster mother, and if they are living in a predominantly Caucasian country such as Canada—as the OP's belated edit suggests—than the term ethnic minority would be inappropriate because the foster children ‘belong’ to the largest ethnic group; i.e. White people

The term "white race" or "white people" entered the major European languages in the later 17th century, in the context of racialized slavery and unequal status in European colonies. Description of populations as "white" in reference to their skin color predates this notion and is found in Greco-Roman ethnography and other ancient sources.

In the aforementioned scenario, the OP has several options open before them. Once the cultural identity of the foster mother is established the children can simply be described as being ‘white’

  • She was deeply protective of her white foster children.

If the OP wishes to emphasize that the foster mother is of a different race.

  • She was deeply protective of her racially different foster children

If the OP wishes to avoid the undeniable negative connotations associated with the word racial, and in its place use a single word, Andrew Leach's suggestion would be confusing

She was deeply protective towards her allogeneous foster children

The noun race has to be added in order to clarify. I looked in Google Books and there is not one instance where the expression ‘allogeneous children’ is used. I searched for ‘allogeneous people’ and found nine examples, four of which are from the same source.

  1. Inorodtsy:
    Inorodsty, is a legal term used in the Russian Empire in reference to non-Slavic population of the empire. Literally meaning ‘of different descent/nation’, it is sometimes translated as allogeneous (people) (cf. ‘allogenes’) and sometimes as ‘aliens’.

  2. In 1913 the Empire counted 70 million Russians proper, together with 90 million 'allogeneous people'

  3. Communism in Romania in the inter-war and immediate post-war periods was represented by two groups: a) allogeneous people (including Jews) and b) locals (Romanians)

  4. Of course, the idea that the burial was that of a Tei culture member who was buried by the rite of the allogeneous people cannot be excluded.

  5. In mid-13th century it counted some 55,000 inhabitants, of whom 150,000 allogeneous people 30. One century later, it mounted to 900,000, including 65 per cent Romanians.

  6. Before the continuous increase of this utterly allogeneous people in Washington, alured by their inversely disproportionate employment by the District and Central Governments...

The OP's second examples would be

They shunned the allogeneous people.

A reader who is versed in the meaning of allogeneous might well understand that the people or foster children were non-Slavic; or, from different cultures and not of a different skin colour.

In the third example provided by the OP, the overworked and exploited labourers working for the “rich, white mining owner” are of different nationalities made up of ethnic minority groups.

  • 2
    What if a black woman is taking care of a white or Asian foster child?
    – user140086
    Commented Feb 7, 2016 at 12:19
  • 2
    @Rathony true, but the OP didn't specify. If the mother is black and living in the US or the UK then ethnic minority would still fit, she herself is from an ethnic minority group. If it's clear the foster mother is from an ethnic minority group and the children who are fostered are Caucasian and they reside in a predominantly white "race" country, then I might say "She was deeply protective towards her white foster children".
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Feb 7, 2016 at 13:38
  • It would be nice to hear why users seem to strongly disagree with this possible solution (3 downvotes). Is the wording weird? Is it ambiguous? Is it rarely used? Is it flat out wrong?
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Feb 8, 2016 at 11:41
  • 6
    It doesn't actually mean a different race, it means a minority race. The definitions don't really match in this case for the reason Rathony pointed out. It's a possibility in the sense that you could use it if they're an ethnic minority, but that doesn't hold for all use cases. Commented Feb 8, 2016 at 12:13
  • 3
    This could work in a specific case, but not necessarily in the general case. Like if you wanted to discuss statistics about adoptions of children of a different race from the parents, regardless of whether it's white adopting black, black adopting white, or purple adopting orange, clearly "adopting ethnic minorities" would be very inaccurate.
    – Jay
    Commented Feb 12, 2016 at 15:15

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.