Uncle toms

Uncle Tom

noun Disparaging and Offensive.
a black man considered by other blacks to be subservient to or to curry favor with whites.
Compare Aunt Jemima.


Origin:
1920–25, Americanism; so called after the leading character in Uncle Tom's Cabin

Uncle Tomish, adjective
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World English Dictionary
Uncle Tom
 
n
informal, derogatory a Black person whose behaviour towards White people is regarded as obsequious and servile
 
[C20: after the slave who is the main character of H.B. Stowe's novel Uncle Tom's Cabin (1852)]
 
Uncle Tomism
 
n

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

Uncle Tom
"servile black man," 1922, somewhat inaccurately in ref. to the humble, pious, but strong-willed main character in Harriet Beecher Stowe's novel, "Uncle Tom's Cabin" (1852). The image implied in the insult perhaps is more traceable to the late 19c. minstel show versions of the story, which reached a
far wider audience than the book.
"I don't recall anyone in the 1920s using the term 'Uncle Tom' as an epithet. But what's amazing is how fast it caught on (in the 1930s). Black scholars picked up (the term) and just started throwing it at each other." [Ernest Allen, quoted in Hamilton, Kendra, "The Strange Career of Uncle Tom," Black Issues in Higher Education, June 2002]
As a verb, attested from 1937.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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