Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. Offensive A Xhosa.
  • n. Offensive Used especially in southern Africa as a disparaging term for a Black person.
  • n. A Nuristani.
  • n. Islam An infidel.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • proper n. A blanket term for various native peoples of southern Africa.
  • proper n. An offensive term for a black person.
  • proper n. A non-believer.

Etymologies

Arabic kāfir, infidel; see giaour.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Arabic كفار (kaffār, "infidel") or كافر (kāfir, "unbeliever"), both from كفر (káfara, "to cover, to hide"). (Wiktionary)

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