[ muh-lat-oh, -lah-toh, myoo- ]
/ məˈlæt oʊ, -ˈlɑ toʊ, myu- /

noun, plural mu·lat·toes, mu·lat·tos.

Anthropology. (not in technical use) the offspring of one white parent and one black parent.
Older Use: Offensive. a person who has both black and white ancestors.


of a light-brown color.

Origin of mulatto

1585–95; < Spanish mulato ‘young mule’, equivalent to mul(o) mule1 + -ato of unclear origin Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for mulatto


/ (mjuːˈlætəʊ) /

noun plural -tos or -toes

a person having one Black and one White parent


of a light brown colour

Word Origin for mulatto

C16: from Spanish mulato young mule, variant of mulo mule 1
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 mulatto



1590s, "offspring of a European and a black African," from Spanish or Portuguese mulato "of mixed breed," literally "young mule," from mulo "mule," from Latin mulus (fem. mula) "mule" (see mule (n.1)); possibly in reference to hybrid origin of mules. As an adjective from 1670s. Fem. mulatta is attested from 1620s; mulattress from 1805.

American culture, even in its most rigidly segregated precincts, is patently and irrevocably composite. It is, regardless of all the hysterical protestations of those who would have it otherwise, incontestibly mulatto. Indeed, for all their traditional antagonisms and obvious differences, the so-called black and so-called white people of the United States resemble nobody else in the world so much as they resemble each other. [Albert Murray, "The Omni-Americans: Black Experience & American Culture," 1970]
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper