noun (used with a singular verb)

the study of or belief in the possibility of improving the qualities of the human species or a human population, especially by such means as discouraging reproduction by persons having genetic defects or presumed to have inheritable undesirable traits (negative eugenics) or encouraging reproduction by persons presumed to have inheritable desirable traits (positive eugenics).

Origin of eugenics

First recorded in 1880–85; see origin at eugenic, -ics Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for eugenics

ancestry, constitution, inheritance, eugenics, genetics

Examples from the Web for eugenics

Contemporary Examples of eugenics

Historical Examples of eugenics

  • I try so hard not to be afraid of men, for I know they are necessary to eugenics.

  • They may be bad for your work, but they are worse for eugenics.

  • It is a sin of our race that the Eugenics Office should have bred out--but they have failed.

  • It is here that the ideals of Eugenics may be expected to work fruitfully.

  • The only compulsion we can apply in eugenics is the compulsion that comes from within.

British Dictionary definitions for eugenics



(functioning as singular) the study of methods of improving the quality of the human race, esp by selective breeding
Derived Formseugenic, adjectiveeugenically, adverbeugenicist, nouneugenist (ˈjuːdʒənɪst), noun, adjective

Word Origin for eugenics

C19: from Greek eugenēs well-born, from eu- + -genēs born; see -gen
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for eugenics

1883, coined (along with adjective eugenic) by English scientist Francis Galton (1822-1911) on analogy of ethics, physics, etc. from Greek eugenes "well-born, of good stock, of noble race," from eu- "good" (see eu-) + genos "birth" (see genus).

The investigation of human eugenics, that is, of the conditions under which men of a high type are produced. [Galton, "Human Faculty," 1883]
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

eugenics in Medicine




The study of hereditary improvement of the human race by controlled selective breeding.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

eugenics in Culture



The idea that one can improve the human race by careful selection of those who mate and produce offspring.


Eugenics was a popular theory in the early twentieth century but is no longer taken seriously, primarily because of the horrors of the eugenic efforts of the Nazi regime in Germany.
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.