nigger (n.) 1786, earlier neger (1568, Scottish and northern England dialect), from Fr. nègre, from Sp. negro (see NEGRO (Cf. 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 (Cf. 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.

Etymology dictionary. 2014.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Nigger — (im afroamerikanischen Englisch auch Nigga, Niggar, Niggah oder Nigguh)[1]; in Südstaaten Aussprache auch Niggra, Nigra und Nighe[2]) ist eine rassistisch denotierte und äußerst abwertende Bezeichnung für Menschen dunkler Hautfarbe. Sie dient… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • nigger — ► NOUN offensive ▪ a black person. ● a nigger in the woodpile Cf. ↑a nigger in the woodpile USAGE The word nigger has had strong offensive connotations since the 17th century. Recently, however, it has begun to be used by black people as a mildly …   English terms dictionary

  • nigger — The word is highly offensive when used by a white person with reference to a black, but it can apparently be used without offence (along with a respelt version nigga) by one black person referring in a mildly disparaging way to another, perhaps… …   Modern English usage

  • nigger — [nig′ər] n. [Dial. or Slang] Negro USAGE originally simply a dialectal variant of Negro, the term nigger is today acceptable only in black English; in all other contexts it is now generally regarded as virtually taboo because of the legacy of… …   English World dictionary

  • nigger — ig ger, n. A negro; in vulgar derision or depreciation. It is usually intended and interpreted as highly insulting and vulgar. [Low, deprecatory, and vulgar] [1913 Webster +PJC] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Nigger — (v. engl. negro), in Amerika verächtliche Bezeichnung eines Negers …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Nigger — Nigger, in Amerika verächtlich für Neger …   Kleines Konversations-Lexikon

  • Nigger — Nigger,der:1.⇨Afrikaner–2.⇨Afroamerikaner Niggerabwertendfür:Schwarzer …   Das Wörterbuch der Synonyme

  • Nigger — This article is about the pejorative use of the word. For nigga as a colloquial reference, see Nigga. For other uses, see Nigger (disambiguation). Not to be confused with niggardly …   Wikipedia

  • nigger —    This would now normally be considered an insulting term to use to a black person, though one black speaker might use it to another as a kind of ironic reminder of their shared past.    In The Liberation of Lord Byron Jones, by Jesse Hill Ford …   A dictionary of epithets and terms of address

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.