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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. 2016.
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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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