Definitions

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

  • n. Used as a disparaging term for a Black person: "You can only be destroyed by believing that you really are what the white world calls a nigger” ( James Baldwin).
  • n. Used as a disparaging term for a member of any dark-skinned people.
  • n. Offensive Slang Used as a disparaging term for a member of any socially, economically, or politically deprived group of people: "Gun owners are the new niggers . . . of society” ( John Aquilino).

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A dark-skinned person, especially a person of, or primarily of, Negro descent; a black person.
  • n. A person of Negro descent who acts in an unapproved manner, usually as an archetypical badass.
  • n. Informal term of address.
  • v. To clear land by laying light pieces of round timber across the trunks of the trees and setting fire to them at the point of contact, by which means the trees are slowly burned through.
  • v. To behave as a stereotypical black person.
  • v. To treat as inferior.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A negro; -- in vulgar derision or depreciation. It is usually intended and interpreted as highly insulting and vulgar.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. Same as niggard, 2.
  • n. A black man; a negro.
  • n. A native of the East Indies or one of the Australian aborigines.
  • n. A black caterpillar, the larva of Athalia centifolia, the turnip saw-fly.
  • n. A. kind of holothurian common off the coast of Cornwall, England: so called by Cornish fishermen.
  • n. A steam-capstan on some Mississippi river boats, used to haul the boat over bars and snags by a rope fastened to a tree on the bank.
  • n. A strong iron-bound timber with sharp teeth or spikes protruding from its front face, forming part of the machinery of a sawmill, and used in canting logs. etc.
  • n. An impurity in the covering of an electrical conductor which serves to make a partial short circuit, and thus becomes sufficiently heated to burn and destroy the insulation.
  • To burn (logs already charred or left unconsumed by former fires): with off: also, to burn (a log) in two in the middle.
  • To exhaust (soil or land) by working it year after year without manure: with out.

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

  • n. (ethnic slur) extremely offensive name for a Black person

Etymologies

Alteration of dialectal neger, black person, from French nègre, from Spanish negro; see Negro.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Ultimately from the Latin adjective niger, meaning "black". Several Romance languages (Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, etc) have the word "negro" meaning "black" (in colour) derived from the Latin "niger", while French has noir, its nègre being borrowed from Spanish. During the period in America's history when black workers were shipped to America to work as slaves, this word came to be adopted from the Hispanic South American languages to describe a person of dark skin. Essentially, a "negro" person simply means a "black" person. Through constant repetition of the Spanish word in the American accent, it seems likely that the word was corrupted from "negro" to "niggero" to simply "nigger". (Wiktionary)

Examples

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