Galton, Sir Francis: English advocate of eugenics, the idea of improving the physical and mental makeup of the human species by selective parenthood.
Galton coined the word "eugenics" to denote scientific endeavors to increase the proportion of persons with better than average genetic endowment through selective mating of marriage partners. In his book "Hereditary Genius" (1869), Galton used the word "genius" to denote "an ability that was exceptionally high and at the same time inborn." The idea that mental capacities might be inherited was a novel proposition at the time.
Born in 1822, Galton was knighted in 1909 and died in 1911. A eugenics chair was established at the University of London under the terms of his will.