nigger

nigger

[nig-er]

The term nigger is now probably the most offensive word in English. Its degree of offensiveness has increased markedly in recent years, although it has been used in a derogatory manner since at least the Revolutionary War. The senses labeled Extremely Disparaging and Offensive represent meanings that are deeply insulting and are used when the speaker deliberately wishes to cause great offense. It is so profoundly offensive that a euphemism has developed for those occasions when the word itself must be discussed, as in court or in a newspaper editorial: “the n-word.”
Despite this, the sense referring to a “black person” is sometimes used among African Americans in a neutral or familiar way. The sense referring to other victims of prejudice, especially when used descriptively, as to denounce that prejudice, is not normally considered disparaging—as in “The Irish are the niggers of Europe” from Roddy Doyle's The Commitments—but the other uses are considered contemptuous and hostile.

noun
1.
Slang: Extremely Disparaging and Offensive.
a.
a black person.
b.
a member of any dark-skinned people.
2.
Slang: Extremely Disparaging and Offensive. a person of any race or origin regarded as contemptible, inferior, ignorant, etc.
3.
a victim of prejudice similar to that suffered by blacks; a person who is economically, politically, or socially disenfranchised.

Origin:
1640–50; < French nègre < Spanish negro black

Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
Cite This Source Link To NIGGER
Collins
World English Dictionary
nigger (ˈnɪɡə)
 
n
1.  a.  a derogatory name for a Black person
 b.  (as modifier): nigger minstrels
2.  derogatory a member of any dark-skinned race
3.  old-fashioned, offensive nigger in the woodpile a hidden snag or hindrance
 
[C18: from C16 dialect neeger, from French nègre, from Spanish Negro1]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
Cite This Source
Etymonline
Word Origin & History

nigger
1786, earlier neger (1568, Scot. and northern England dialect), from Fr. nègre, from Sp. negro (see Negro). From the earliest usage it was "the term that carries with it all the obloquy and contempt and rejection which whites have inflicted on blacks" [cited in Gowers,
1965]. But as black inferiority was at one time a near universal assumption in Eng.-speaking lands, the word in some cases could be used without deliberate insult. More sympathetic writers late 18c. and early 19c. seem to have used black (n.) and, after the American Civil War, colored person. Also applied by Eng. settlers to dark-skinned native peoples in India, Australia, Polynesia. The reclamation of the word as a neutral or positive term in black culture, often with a suggestion of "soul" or "style," is attested first in the Amer. South, later (1968) in the Northern, urban-based Black Power movement. Variant niggah, attested from 1925 (without the -h, from 1969), is found usually in situations where blacks use the word. Nigra (1944), on the other hand, reflects a pronunciation in certain circles of Negro, but meant to suggest nigger, and is thus deemed (according to a 1960 slang dictionary) "even more derog. than 'nigger.' " Slang phrase nigger in the woodpile attested by 1800; "A mode of accounting for the disappearance of fuel; an unsolved mystery" [R.H. Thornton, "American Glossary," 1912]. Nigger heaven, "the top gallery in a (segregated) theater" first attested 1878 in ref. to Troy, N.Y.
" 'You're a fool nigger, and the worst day's work Pa ever did was to buy you,' said Scarlett slowly. ... There, she thought, I've said 'nigger' and Mother wouldn't like that at all." [Margaret Mitchell, "Gone With the Wind," 1936]
Used in combinations (e.g. nigger-brown, nigger-head, nigger-toe) since 1840s for various dark brown or black hues or objects; euphemistic substitutions (e.g. Zulu) began to appear in these senses c.1917.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source
Copyright © 2014 Dictionary.com, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature
FAVORITES
RECENT

;