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Nigger

In the English language, the word "nigger" is an ethnic slur, usually directed at black people. The word originated as a neutral term referring to people with black skin, as a variation of the Spanish and Portuguese noun negro, a descendant of the Latin adjective niger ("black"). It was often used derogatorily, and by the mid-twentieth century, particularly in the United States, its usage became unambiguously pejorative, a racist insult. Accordingly, it began to disappear from popular culture, and its continued inclusion in classic works of literature has sparked controversy.

In contemporary English, using the word "nigger" is considered extremely offensive, and it is often replaced with the euphemism "the N-word". The variant " nigga" has to some extent been reclaimed by African Americans.

Nigger (disambiguation)

Nigger is a highly pejorative term for a black person, derived from the word "negro"

Nigger may also refer to:

  • Orsotriaena medus, or the smooth-eyed bushbrown, a butterfly historically referred to as the "Nigger"
  • Nigger (dog) (died 1943), Wg Cdr Guy Gibson's dog at time of Operation Chastise, portrayed in the 1955 film The Dam Busters
  • Steam nigger or nigger engine, a steam-powered tool formerly used in sawmills to turn logs
  • Boss Nigger, a 1974 film directed by Jack Arnold
  • A black pearl

Nigger (dog)

Nigger was a male black labrador retriever belonging to Wing Commander Guy Gibson, V.C., D.S.O., D.F.C. of the Royal Air Force, and the mascot of No. 617 Squadron. Gibson owned the dog when he was previously a member of 106 Squadron. Nigger often accompanied Gibson on training flights and was a great favourite of the members of both 106 and 617 Squadrons. He was noted for his liking of beer, which he drank from his own bowl in the Officers' Mess.

Nigger died on 16 May 1943, the day before the famous "Dam Busters" raid, when he was hit by a car. He was buried at midnight as Gibson was leading the raid. "Nigger" ( Morse code: -. .. --. --. . .-. ) was the codeword Gibson used to confirm the breach of the Möhne Dam. Nigger's grave is at Royal Air Force station Scampton, Lincolnshire.

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

nigger

1786, earlier neger (1568, Scottish and northern England dialect), from French nègre, from Spanish negro (see Negro). From the earliest usage it was "the term that carries with it all the obloquy and contempt and rejection which whites have inflicted on blacks" [cited in Gowers, 1965, probably Harold R. Isaacs]. But as black inferiority was at one time a near universal assumption in English-speaking lands, the word in some cases could be used without deliberate insult. More sympathetic writers late 18c. and early 19c. seem to have used black (n.) and, after the American Civil War, colored person.\n "You're a fool nigger, and the worst day's work Pa ever did was to buy you," said Scarlett slowly. ... There, she thought, I've said "nigger" and Mother wouldn't like that at all. [Margaret Mitchell, "Gone With the Wind," 1936]\nAlso applied by English settlers to dark-skinned native peoples in India, Australia, Polynesia. The reclamation of the word as a neutral or positive term in black culture (not universally regarded as a worthwhile enterprise), often with a suggestion of "soul" or "style," is attested first in the U.S. South, later (1968) in the Northern, urban-based Black Power movement.\n

\nUsed in combinations (such as nigger-brown) since 1840s for various dark brown or black hues or objects; euphemistic substitutions (such as Zulu) began to appear in these senses c.1917. Brazil nuts were called nigger toes by 1896. Variant niggah, attested from 1925 (without the -h, from 1969), is found usually in situations where blacks use the word. Nigra (1944), on the other hand, in certain uses reflects a pronunciation of negro meant to suggest nigger, and is thus deemed (according to a 1960 slang dictionary) "even more derog[atory] than 'nigger.' " Slang phrase nigger in the woodpile attested by 1800; "A mode of accounting for the disappearance of fuel; an unsolved mystery" [R.H. Thornton, "American Glossary," 1912]. Nigger heaven "the top gallery in a (segregated) theater" first attested 1878 in reference to Troy, N.Y.\n\n

Wiktionary

nigger

n. (context offensive ethnic slur now vulgar see nigger#Usage notes usage notes English) A dark-skinned person, especially a person of, or primarily of, Negro descent; a black person. vb. 1 (context transitive dated English) 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. 2 (context intransitive offensive English) To behave as a stereotypical black person. 3 (context uncommon transitive offensive English) To treat as inferior.

The Collaborative International Dictionary

nigger

nigger \nig"ger\, n. A negro; -- in vulgar derision or depreciation. It is usually intended and interpreted as highly insulting and vulgar.

WordNet

nigger

n. (ethnic slur) offensive name for a Black person; "only a Black can call another Black a nigga" [syn: nigga, spade, coon, jigaboo, nigra]

Usage examples of "nigger".

It went straight up as the dago, the hebe, the bohunk, the nigger came down and into it.

When the opportunity came he broke off and with great effort drew himself into his study where he swore at the walls and damned Flack for a sooty nigger.

I likes mannerable white fokes, mysef, and den, I likes mannerable niggers fer as dat goes.

Peter used to git so mad when I would beat his ole horse, and den all de niggers would laf at him kaise de white fokes give me some of de bettin money.

Cele that he got old Nigger Tashs scab for her and he gessed she wood begin to turn prety dark culored before a week or 2.

Crittenden, you raise dat wood at mah boy, and you gointer make uh bad nigger outa me.

Dem Klux wud cotch er nigger dat dey want en pin he haid down ter de groun wid er forked stick en one wud hold him whilst de others whip im wid er strop er a lash.

I remembers Miss Hatchel caught en shook me one time en when I tell her husband, he tell her to keep his hands off his little Nigger.

With that all the gentlemen set up a laugh, you might have heerd away down to Sandy Hook, and the Gineral gig-gobbled like a great turkey-cock--the half nigger, half alligator-like looking villain as he is.

Day was de hardest day of de whole year, for de overseer jus' tried hisself to see how hard he could drive de Niggers dat day, and when de wuk was all done de day ended off wid a big pot of cornfield peas and hog jowl to eat for luck.

Us chaps played all de time wid white chillun jus' lak dey had all been Niggers.

Jeff wukked dem few Niggers so hard dat when dey got to deir cabins at night dey was glad to jus' rest.

Nigger lovers and pawns of the kike bastards who own the corporations.

The party beneath, now more apparent in the light of the dawn, consisted of our old acquaintances, Tom Loker and Marks, with two constables, and a posse consisting of such rowdies at the last tavern as could be engaged by a little brandy to go and help the fun of trapping a set of niggers.

So the next night, jist at dark, I gives January Snow, the old nigger, a nidge with my elbow, and as soon as he looks up, I winks and walks out and he arter me.