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Though the notion that racial mixing is undesirable has arisen at different points in history, it gained particular prominence in Europe during the era of colonialism. The term miscegenation entered the English language in the 19th century as racial segregation began to become more formalized in the United States. It was used specifically to refer to interracial marriage and interracial sexual relations. Although the term "miscegenation" was formed from the Latin miscere "to mix" plus genus "race" or "kind", and could therefore be perceived as value-neutral, it is almost always used in a negative way, as something to be avoided, punished or outlawed. More neutral terms for mixed-race relationships, such as "interracial", "interethnic", or even " cross-cultural " are more common in contemporary usage. In the present day, the word miscegenation is avoided by many scholars, because the term suggests that race is a concrete biological phenomenon, rather than a categorization imposed on certain relationships. The term's historical use in contexts that typically implied disapproval is also a reason why more unambiguously neutral terms such as interracial , interethnic or cross-cultural are more common in contemporary usage.