Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun Used as a disparaging term for a black person.
  • noun Used as a disparaging term for a member of any dark-skinned people.
  • noun Used as a disparaging term for a member of any socially, economically, or politically deprived group of people.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun Same as niggard, 2.
  • noun A black man; a negro.
  • noun A native of the East Indies or one of the Australian aborigines.
  • noun A black caterpillar, the larva of Athalia centifolia, the turnip saw-fly.
  • noun A. kind of holothurian common off the coast of Cornwall, England: so called by Cornish fishermen.
  • noun 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.
  • noun 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.
  • noun 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 the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

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

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun offensive, ethnic slur A dark-skinned person, especially a person of, or primarily of, Negro descent; a black person.
  • noun offensive, ethnic slur, vulgar slang A person of Negro descent who acts in an unapproved manner, usually as an archetypical badass.
  • noun African American Vernacular Informal term of address.
  • verb transitive, dated 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.
  • verb intransitive, offensive To behave as a stereotypical black person.
  • verb uncommon, transitive, offensive To treat as inferior.

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

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

Etymologies

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

[Alteration of dialectal neger, black person, from French nègre, from Spanish negro; see Negro.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

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".

Examples

  • Joe says so; but Joe is a nigger, and what does a _nigger_ know? '

    The Continental Monthly, Vol III, Issue VI, June, 1863 Devoted to Literature and National Policy

  • You'll be what they call a nigger-stealer then, and I a runaway slave-but they won't catch us.

    Flash For Freedom

  • You'll be what they call a nigger-stealer then, and I a runaway slave-but they won't catch us.

    Flash For Freedom

  • As for myself, would my opinion of Bob Dylan have changed if I'd found out that he'd killed a man, or that he was a wife-beater, or that he used the term "nigger" in private conversations?

    David Macaray: The Patriotism Reflex

  • You may be aware enough to avoid using the term nigger or comparing Blacks to monkeys, however; because you have been steeped in a racist culture you cannot avoid taking advantage of your privilege.

    Archive 2009-07-01

  • You may be aware enough to avoid using the term nigger or comparing Blacks to monkeys, however; because you have been steeped in a racist culture you cannot avoid taking advantage of your privilege.

    Obama The Monkey What An Honour

  • Black people have attempted throughout their own history to take and seize the term nigger and turn it around to make it something positive.

    Holler If You Hear Me: Searching for Tupac Shakur

  • He had often heard the term nigger used in its reproachful sense, but never before had it been applied to him or his, at least in his presence.

    The Garies and Their Friends

  • And why is it ok for you to use the term "whitey", but someone else can't use the term nigger?

    Ryan Tomayko

  • And why is it ok for you to use the term "whitey", but someone else can't use the term nigger?

    Ryan Tomayko

Comments

New comments are temporarily disabled while we update our database.