Definitions

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

  • n. A tropical African variety of sorghum (Sorghum bicolor) grown in dry regions and in the Great Plains for grain and forage. Also called kaffir corn.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A black person.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n.
  • n. One of a race which, with the Hottentots and Bushmen, inhabit South Africa. They inhabit the country north of Cape Colony, the name being now specifically applied to the tribes living between Cape Colony and Natal, including the Ponda, Xosa, and Tembu; but the Zulus of Natal are true Kaffirs.
  • n. One of a race inhabiting Kafiristan in Central Asia.
  • n. Any Black African; -- a disparaging and offensive term used by white South Africans.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. important for human and animal food; growth habit and stem form similar to Indian corn but having sawtooth-edged leaves
  • n. an offensive and insulting term for any Black African

Etymologies

Short for kaffir corn, probably translation of Afrikaans kafferkoring : kaffer, Kaffir (from Arabic kāfir; see Kaffir) + koring, corn.
(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)

Examples

  • No one in our house ever said the word kaffir except in regard to the Kaffir boom tree, which felt wrong and dangerous and ugly.

    Rainbow’s End

  • The word 'kaffir' is used as an insulting term for Africans but the term 'kaffir beer' was widely used in English as a name for this drink

    Articles written by Nelson Mandela for Liberation, 1955-59

  • The Persian lime peel alone will not make an adequate sub -- the flavor of kaffir is like no other.

    Archive 2009-07-01

  • The word kaffir, sometimes spelt kaffer or kafir, is an offensive term for a black person, most common in South Africa and other African countries.

    On Thursday, the Legg report will be published along with...

  • But the kaffir is no different from other people, and the moment you say, "You shan't," human nature backs up and says, "I shall."

    Empire Relations—Personal and Impersonal

  • That evening in a hut assigned to us by the chief, squatting on the trodden cow-dung floor, leaning against the dried-mud sides, with a little fire of sticks in the midst to give us light and keep mosquitoes at a distance at the expense of almost unbearable heat, we ate porridge made from mtama as they call their kaffir corn, and washed it down with milk -- good rich cows 'milk, milked by Kazimoto into our own metal pot instead of their unwashed gourds.

    The Ivory Trail

  • Winn ran with that in a Jan. 29 article, digging up right-wing "expert on Islamism" Walid Phares, who claimed that "the typical word Arabic translators would use for the term 'non-believer' is 'kaffir' - a word which means 'atheist' or 'infidel.'"

    Terry Krepel: Brent Bozell's News Service Tries to Concoct Obama Controversy

  • The result is that the kaffir is a very happy man today.

    Empire Relations—Personal and Impersonal

  • One caller told her she was "a stupid white whore", while another signed off a letter with a swastika and the words: "The blacks won't thank you and after all, a kaffir is a kaffir."

    ANC Daily News Briefing

  • They embraced the idea that anyone who disagreed with their harsh interpretation of Islam was a "kaffir" or infidel, and that their duty was to kill anyone who opposed them (much like the gentleman who sent me that email last week).

    Kamran Pasha: The Beginning of the End for The Taliban

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Comments

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  • A variety of lime.

    November 22, 2011

  • disambiguation:
    1. a kind of corn (afrikaans)
    2. a Black person, now a racial epithet (British and afrikaans)
    3. Disbeliever in Allah; non-Muslim (Arabic).

    November 21, 2011

  • Do you know who Zadie Smith is, Prac? Read the book to understand why she uses "kaffir" and other such terms.

    January 21, 2011

  • This is racial and should be removed.

    January 21, 2011

  • ""You see, Jones," said Samad, "the real mistake the viceroy made was to give the Sikhs any position of power, you see? Just because they have some limited success with the kaffir in Africa, he says Yes, Mr. Man, with your sweaty fat face and your silly fake English mustache and your pagri balanced like a large shit on the top of your head, you can be an officer, we will Indianize the army; go, go and fight in Italy, Rissaldar Major Pugri, Daffadar Pugri, with my grand old English troops! Mistake!""
    White Teeth by Zadie Smith, p 75 of the Vintage International paperback

    January 21, 2011