Definitions

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Alternative form of pickaninny.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Little; small; as, a piccaninny handful.
  • n. A baby; a child; especially, the child of a member of any negroid race.

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

  • n. (ethnic slur) offensive term for a Black child

Etymologies

Sorry, no etymologies found.

Examples

  • Encumbered with the "piccaninny," and wearied with the long ceaseless struggle through the sand, Colin lingered behind his companions.

    The Boy Slaves

  • These, of all sizes, from the "piccaninny" to the "good-sized chunk of

    The Quadroon Adventures in the Far West

  • From the appearance of the camps, and the age of the islander who took part in the various searches, and who was ready to admit that though pearl-shell hooks were used when he was a piccaninny he had never seen one made, I judge the age of these relics of a prehistoric art to be between thirty and forty years.

    The Confessions of a Beachcomber

  • The piccaninny of the remote past chuckled gleefully as the jerked leaf returned to it.

    The Confessions of a Beachcomber

  • A tipsy, disorderly, vindictive debil-debil it was, that made the boldest piccaninny shriek with dismay.

    My Tropic Isle

  • They declared that while they had slept a piccaninny

    My Tropic Isle

  • I was wont to point out that since the sea presented an impassable barrier, the sand spit, drawn out to a fine point, was just the spot where a piccaninny might be easily rounded up, if it were detected in a preoccupied mood.

    My Tropic Isle

  • All scornfully out-voted him, and to this day the blacks assert that “a piccaninny debil-debil” so closely resembles a flying-fox that none but a black boy can tell the difference.

    My Tropic Isle

  • George ignored the piccaninny, but took the pigling to his heart, ever and anon assuring the community that very soon it would be fat and tender.

    Last Leaves from Dunk Island

  • If, said they, he was ever lucky enough to snap up a plump piccaninny — girl preferred — he would cut her to pieces with a shell-knife and use her for bait.

    Last Leaves from Dunk Island

Comments

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  • I echo skipvia's comments--extremely offensive in the United States. Also I have seen it spelled pickaninny more often than this spelling.

    August 4, 2008

  • Highly pejorative term in the southern US--as offensive to most people as nigger. Both are terms that actually pain me to commit to paper or page.

    August 4, 2008

  • See peekeeneenee.

    August 3, 2008

  • My impression is that piccaninny was not that pejorative in Australia. The town I grew up in had a Piccaninny Lane which led to an Aboriginal reserve. I have never heard any members of the Aboriginal community complaining about the street name as being demeaning; on the contrary, they see it as part of their heritage. The reality is that Aboriginal people were called far worse things and piccaninny has acquired a smattering of nostalgia.

    August 3, 2008

  • I certainly didn't expect this to mean what it does! OED says it's from Portuguese pequeno, small — the word is evidently one of those diffused around the Atlantic coasts through the Portuguese-based pidgins associated with trade (and esp. the slave trade) in the 17th century.

    At least we still have pinkaninny, piccalilli, and piccadilly. :(

    August 3, 2008