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piccaninny

[pik-uh-nin-ee] /ˈpɪk əˌnɪn i/
noun, plural piccaninnies.
Origin of piccaninny
1650-1660
1650-60

pickaninny

or picaninny, piccaninny

[pik-uh-nin-ee] /ˈpɪk əˌnɪn i/
noun, plural pickaninnies. Older Use: Now Offensive.
1.
a term used to refer to a black child.
Origin
1645-55; probably ultimately < Portuguese pequenino, diminutive of pequeno small; as a word for “small child,” pickaninny and its variants are widespread in English-based creoles of the New World and West Africa; compare Jamaican English pickney, West African English pickin small child
Usage note
This is a dated term, originally used in a neutral or even affectionate way among slaves in the West Indies, but now perceived as insulting.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for piccaninny
Historical Examples
  • However, the piccaninny and the Rabbit soon began a firm friendship by playfully jogging one another over.

    Baby Jane's Mission Reginald Parnell
  • The animals and the piccaninny all frisked around in high excitement.

    Baby Jane's Mission Reginald Parnell
  • It was then the piccaninny woke up because the bough had ceased to sway gently up and down.

    Piccaninnies Isabel Maud Peacocke
  • The piccaninny told the Bush Baby that he would find some honey for her.

    Piccaninnies Isabel Maud Peacocke
  • piccaninny, Pickaninny, pik′a-nin-i, n. a little child: an African or negro child.

  • And I've been asleep with my head upon my dear, naughty old Bear, with all my animals and the piccaninny round me.

    Baby Jane's Mission Reginald Parnell
  • It was arranged that the piccaninny and the Rabbit were to charge together from a distance and see which could unhorse the other.

    Baby Jane's Mission Reginald Parnell
  • piccaninny's black shanks and pink heels flew up and out, and he was away like a flash.

    Prisoners of Hope Mary Johnston
British Dictionary definitions for piccaninny

piccaninny

/ˌpɪkəˈnɪnɪ/
noun (pl) -nies
1.
(offensive) a small Black or Aboriginal child
2.
(modifier) tiny: a piccaninny fire won't last long
Word Origin
C17: perhaps from Portuguese pequenino tiny one, from pequeno small

pickaninny

/ˌpɪkəˈnɪnɪ/
noun (pl) -nies
1.
a variant spelling (esp US) of piccaninny
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 piccaninny
n.

also pickaninny, 1650s, from West Indies patois, formed as a diminutive from Spanish pequeño or Portuguese pequeno "little, small," of uncertain origin, related to French petit (see petit (adj.)). As late as 1836 applied affectionately to any small child or baby, regardless of race.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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