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nigger

[nig-er] /ˈnɪg ər/
Usage alert
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.
  1. a contemptuous term used to refer to a black person.
  2. a contemptuous term used to refer to a member of any dark-skinned people.
2.
Slang: Extremely Disparaging and Offensive. a contemptuous term used to refer to 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
1640-1650
1640-50; < French nègre < Spanish negro black
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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British Dictionary definitions for nigger

nigger

/ˈnɪɡə/
noun (offensive, taboo)
1.
  1. an offensive term for a Black person
  2. (as modifier): nigger minstrels
2.
an offensive term for a member of any dark-skinned race
3.
(old-fashioned, offensive) nigger in the woodpile, a hidden snag or hindrance
Word Origin
C18: from C16 dialect neeger, from French nègre, from Spanish Negro1
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for nigger
n.

1786, earlier neger (1568, Scottish and northern England dialect), from French nègre, from Spanish 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, probably Harold R. Isaacs]. But as black inferiority was at one time a near universal assumption in English-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.

"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]
Also applied by English settlers to dark-skinned native peoples in India, Australia, Polynesia. The reclamation of the word as a neutral or positive term in black culture (not universally regarded as a worthwhile enterprise), often with a suggestion of "soul" or "style," is attested first in the U.S. South, later (1968) in the Northern, urban-based Black Power movement.

Used in combinations (e.g. nigger-brown) since 1840s for various dark brown or black hues or objects; euphemistic substitutions (e.g. Zulu) began to appear in these senses c.1917. Brazil nuts were called nigger toes by 1896. 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, in certain uses reflects a pronunciation of negro meant to suggest nigger, and is thus deemed (according to a 1960 slang dictionary) "even more derog[atory] 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 reference to Troy, N.Y.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for nigger

nigger

modifier

: a nice nigger lady

noun

A black person •Not a taboo word as used by one black person to or about another (1786+)


The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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