Creole, a corruption of the Spanish word criollo, which signifies one born in America or the West Indies, of European ancestors. In this, sense all the native white people of the United States are Creoles. But the word in its English use has undergone both a limitation and an extension. It is limited to persons born within or near the tropics; and it is made to include persons of all colors. Thus the term Creole negro is employed in the English West Indies to distinguish the negroes born there from the Africans imported during the time of the slave trade. The application of this term to the colored people has led to an idea common in some parts of the United States, though wholly unfounded, that it implies an admixture, greater or less, of African blood. The Creoles of the West Indies and the adjacent coasts of the continent are distinguished by marked physical peculiarities from their European ancestors. Bryan Edwards, who had ample opportunities for observation, and who is a very competent observer, describes them, in his "History of the West Indies," as obviously a taller race on the whole than the European, but in general not proportionately robust. He had known several who were full 6 feet 4 inches in height, but they wanted bulk to come up to the idea of masculine beauty.
This peculiarity, however, it is to be observed, is not confined to the Creoles of the tropics. The same remark has been made respecting the descendants of Europeans born in the United States and in Australia. The Creoles are distinguished for the freedom and suppleness of their joints, which enables them to move with great ease, agility, and grace. From the same cause they excel in penmanship, and in everything requiring flexibility of movement. The effect of climate is likewise obvious in the structure of the eye, the socket being considerably deeper than among Europeans, thus affording a protection against the glare of the sun. Their skin feels considerably colder than that of Europeans; a circumstance observed in a still stronger degree of the negroes, and going to show an effort of nature to protect their bodies against the heat. Even though living in the same way with Europeans, they are rarely subject to those inflammatory disorders, yellow fever included, which prove so often fatal to the former. This is particularly true of the creole women of the West Indies, who live in general very quiet and regular lives, and are very abstemious in their diet.
Simple water or lemonade is the strongest beverage in which they indulge, and a vegetable mess at noon, seasoned with Cayenne pepper, constitutes their principal meal. To a stranger newly arrived, they appear as if just risen from a sick bed. Their voices are soft and spiritless, every step betrays languor, while their cheeks lack entirely the bloom of the rose. They have, however, in general, beautiful black hair and fine eyes and teeth. The peculiarities of the white Creole are to be found also in the mixed race, with more of force and vivacity on the part of the latter, the women especially, as being less enervated by the climate. There may be observed also a marked distinction between the Creole negroes and those imported from Africa. The former are more slender, agile, and graceful, though not less strong or capable of labor, with quicker perceptions and more volatile dispositions. - The dialects which have sprung up in tropical America, formed by the corruption of Spanish, French, and English, are generally called Creole dialects.