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CREOLE (the Fr. form of criollo, a West Indian, probably a negro corruption of the Span, criadillo, the dim. of criado, one bred or reared, from criar, to breed, a derivative of the Lat. creare, to create), a word used originally (16th century) to denote persons born in the West Indies of Spanish parents, as distinguished from immigrants direct from Spain, aboriginals, negroes or mulattos. It is now used of the descendants of non-aboriginal races born and settled in the West Indies, in various parts of the American mainland and in Mauritius, Reunion and some other places colonized by Spain, Portugal, France, or (in the case of the West Indies) by England. In a similar sense the name is used of animals and plants. The use of the word by some writers as necessarily implying a person of mixed blood is totally erroneous; in itself "creole" has no distinction of colour; a Creole may be a person of European, negro, or mixed extraction - or even a horse.

Local variations occur in the use of the word as applied to people. In the West Indies it designates the descendants of any European race; in the United States the French-speaking native portion of the white race in Louisiana, whether of French or Spanish origin. The French Canadians are never termed creoles, nor is the word now used of the South Americans of Spanish or Portuguese descent, but in Mexico whites of pure Spanish extraction are still called creoles. In all the countries named, when a non-white creole is indicated the word negro is added. In Mauritius, Reunion, etc., on the other hand, creole is commonly used to designate the black population, but is also occasionally used of the inhabitants of European descent. The difference in type between the white creoles and the European races from whom they have sprung, a difference often considerable, is due principally to changed environment - especially to the tropical or semi-tropical climate of the lands they inhabit. The many patois founded on French and Spanish, and used chiefly by creole negroes, are spoken of as creole languages, a term extended by some writers to include similar dialects spoken in countries where the word creole is rarely used.

See G. W. Cable, The Creoles of Louisiana (1884); A. Coelho, "Os Dialetos romanicos on neo latinos na Africa, Asia e America," Bol. Soc. Geo. Lisboa (1884-1886), with bibliography. For the Creole French of Haiti see an article by Sir H. H. Johnston in The Times, April 10th, 1909.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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