From the second edition (1989):
nigger, n.
(ˈnɪgə(r)) Also niggar. [Alteration of neger. Cf. also niger and nigre.]


1. a. A Negro. (Colloq. and usu. contemptuous.) Except in Black English vernacular, where it remains common, now virtually restricted to contexts of deliberate and contemptuous ethnic abuse.

1786 Burns Ordination iv, How graceless Ham leugh at his Dad, Which made Canaan a nigger. 1811 Byron in Mem. F. Hodgson (1878) I. 195 The rest of the world—niggers and what not. 1818 H. B. Fearon Sk. Amer. 46 The bad conduct and inferior nature of niggars (negroes). 1819 W. Faux Mem. Days Amer. (1823) 9 Contempt of the poor blacks, or niggers, as they are there called, seems the national sin of America. a1849 H. Coleridge Ess. (1851) I. 164 A similar error has turned Othello‥into a rank woolly-pated, thick-lipped nigger. 1867 Latham Black & White 127 Niggers (they are not ‘coloured persons’ yet in the South) are most artful flatterers. 1897 Outing (U.S.) XXIX. 333/1 What is wanted is a genuine nigger; not a colored person. 1931 D. L. Sayers Five Red Herrings i. 11 Waters‥, like all Englishmen, was ready enough to admire and praise all foreigners except dagoes and niggers. 1934 G. B. Shaw On Rocks ii. 70 Pandranath: you are only a silly nigger pretending to be an English gentleman. Ibid. 71, I am called nigger by this dirty faced barbarian whose forefathers were naked savages worshipping acorns and mistletoe‥whilst my people were spreading the highest enlightenment yet reached by the human race from the temples of Brahma.‥ You call me nigger, sneering at my colour because you have none. The jackdaw has lost his tail and would persuade the world that his defect is a quality. 1936 M. Mitchell Gone with Wind 401 ‘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. 1937 C. Himes in Black on Black 132 Uncle Tomism, acceptance, toadying—all there in its most rugged form. One way to be a nigger. Other Negroes did it other ways—he did it the hard way. The same result—a nigger. 1948 [see coon n. 2c]. 1948 G. Greene Heart of Matter i. i. 3, I hate the place. I hate the people. I hate the bloody niggers. Mustn't call 'em that you know. Ibid. ii. i. 179 A clerk knocked and said, ‘There's a nigger for you, Wilson, with a note.’ 1949 B. A. Botkin Treas. S. Folklore p. xxiii, In turning his laughter on himself as well as the whites, the Negro has taken over the objectionable word ‘nigger’ (though not ‘darky’) and made it a term of praise or blame. 1964 L. Hughes in J. H. Clarke Harlem iv. 251 A klansman said, ‘Nigger, Look me in the face—And tell me you believe in The great white race.’ 1966 Stage & Television Today 6 Oct., When ‘Ten Little Niggers’ opened for a week's run at Birmingham Theatre on Monday members of the co-ordinating committee against racial discrimination (CARD) staged a protest demonstration outside. 1968 C. Brown in A. Dundes Mother Wit (1973) 232/1 Perhaps the most soulful word in the world is ‘nigger’. 1969 D. L. Lee in A. Chapman New Black Voices (1972) ii. 286 Change, stop being an instant yes machine. Change. Niggers don't change they just grow. That's a change; Bigger and better niggers. 1971 Black World Apr. 56 Who the hell you think, nigger? 1972 D. Onyeama Nigger at Eton iii. 83, I remember that in conversation, some boys occasionally used ‘nigger’ in reference to black people. I never dreamt that it was a racial name and generally used with contempt; I just reckoned it was a harmless slang word for a black man. 1973 Black World Aug. 61/1 Even credit-card niggers didn' really trust banks. 1973 Times Lit. Suppl. 14 Dec. 1536/1 You do not reduce to only a ticket-collector, only an asthmatic, only a voter, only a politician, only a pools-winner, only a nigger.
transf. 1889 Rider Haggard Allan's Wife 262 As for that there claim, well, she's been a good nigger to me.


b. Loosely or incorrectly applied to members of other dark-skinned races.

1857 Dufferin Lett. High Lat. 251 This relationship with Polynesian Niggers, the native genealogists would probably scout with indignation. 1865 Trevelyan Cawnpore 47 In the eyes of an English planter‥bazaar-porters and Rajahs‥are niggers alike one and all. 1891 Melbourne Argus 7 Nov. 13/5 The natives of Queensland are nearly always spoken of as ‘niggers’ by those who are brought most directly in contact with them. 1941 I. L. Idriess Great Boomerang xxii. 169 The cranky nigger who was on the job broke the only shovel. 1946 K. Tennant Lost Haven (1968) 6 No grandson of mine,‥is going to be brought up by them thieving, godless, nigger Detwinters. Ibid. xviii. 312 When that old nigger went past she turned up her nose.


c. to work like a nigger, to work exceptionally hard. orig. U.S.

1836 C. Gilman Recoll. Southern Matron in Southern Rose 23 July 186/1, I have toiled night and day, I've worked like a nigger, and more than any nigger. 1861 Geo. Eliot Let. 13 Apr. (1954) III. 404 Charles‥will‥work like a nigger at his music. 1880 ‘Mark Twain’ Tramp Abroad 40 He laid into his work like a nigger. 1889 E. Dowson Let. 19 May (1967) 80, I have simply worked like a nigger this week. 1920 R. Fry Let. 20 June (1972) II. 481, I have worked like a nigger to arrange it [sc. an exhibition] well. 1931 D. L. Sayers Five Red Herrings ix. 99 Dalziel has been working like a nigger all day, getting him identified by his family and by the station-master at Pinwherry and by the people at Larne.


d. a nigger in the woodpile (or fence): a concealed motive or unknown factor affecting a situation in an adverse way. orig. U.S.

1852 in Kans. Hist. Quarterly (1942) XI. 235 No ‘nigger in the wood pile’ here‥; white men are at the bottom of this speculation. 1862 Congress. Globe 3 June 2527/1 [These gentlemen] spoke two whole hours‥in showing—to borrow an elegant phrase, the paternity of which belongs, I think, to their side of the House,—that there was ‘a nigger in the wood-pile’. 1897 Congress. Rec. 18 Feb. App. 61/1 Like a great many others ignorant of facts, he finds ‘a nigger in the wood pile’ when there is neither wood pile nor nigger. 1911 Woodrow Wilson in Outlook 11 Aug. 944 If you go through the schedules you will find some nigger in every wood pile. 1930 Cambridge Daily News 24 Sept. 7/6 Unless‥there is a nigger in the wood pile,‥the shares ought to be worth a mild flutter at round 8s. 6d. 1952 A. Christie They do it with Mirrors xii. 109 Well now, let's have your point of view. Who's the nigger in the woodpile? The G.I. husband? 1958 Listener 13 Feb. 285/1 ‘The starry heaven that we know‥is inside us.’‥ The nigger in the woodpile is to be found in the word ‘know’. 1958 ‘A. Gilbert’ Death against Clock 72 The nigger in the woodpile on this occasion being an elderly spinster of decided views. 1960 Daily Tel. 16 Jan. 8 This seems to be the nigger in the woodpile—the woodpile being an industrial recovery and activity remarkable by any standard. 1974 M. Gilbert Flash Point ii. 19 It wouldn't have been easy to spot.‥ It's taken Jonas himself all this time to spot the nigger in the woodpile.
1850 California Courier (San Francisco) 4 Sept. 2/6 The majority of the papers, however, think that there ‘is a nigger in the fence’ somewhere. 1888 B. Harte Phyllis of Sierras i. iii. 90 Ef he aint scooped up by Jenny Bradley he'll guess there's a nigger in the fence somewhere. 1911 H. Quick Yellowstone Nights xi. 286 He's always looking for a nigger in the fence.


2. a. The black caterpillar of the turnip saw-fly.

1840 Cuvier's Anim. Kingd. 584 Athalia centifoliæ is extremely destructive to turnips, its larva being known under the name of the Nigger, or Black Jack. 1844 H. Stephens Bk. Farm III. 774 The larvæ are known in different parts of the country by the names of black caterpillar, blacks, nigger, canker, etc. 1874 Lubbock Orig. & Met. Ins. i. 7 To this group belongs the nigger, or black caterpillar of the turnip.


b. (See quot.)

1855 Morton Cycl. Agric. II. 120 Nigger, the name of lady-bird larvæ in hop grounds.


c. (See quot.)

1855 Ogilvie Suppl., Nigger, a species of holothuria, so called by the Cornish fishermen. It is very common in deep water off the Deadmen.


d. Used in Comb. to denote a dark shade of colour, as nigger-brown (also ellipt.), nigger-grey, nigger-pink.

1914 Lady's Pictorial 4 July p. v (Advt.), Soft Taffeta Hat‥In Black,‥Nigger, Mole, and White. 1915 Home Chat 2 Jan. 11/1 Nigger-brown cloth. 1917 Ibid. 3 Nov. 139/2 Nigger or, as it is now called, ‘Zulu’, is also to be seen. 1922 D. H. Lawrence England, my England 116 She was wearing a wide hat of grey straw, and a loose, swinging dress of nigger-grey velvet. 1923 [see desert-brown adj.]. 1930 J. Dos Passos 42nd Parallel i. 124 On each table there were niggerpink and vermilion paper flowers. 1960 V. Williams Walk Egypt 89 A dry-goods store showed a dress of ‘nigger-pink’. 1973 Times 12 Nov. 4/4 Decorations in autumnal colours, that is, coral pink and what used to be nigger brown.


3. U.S. a. A form of steam-engine used on ships; a steam-capstan employed in hauling river-boats over bars or snags. b. A strong spiked timber by which logs are canted in a saw-mill.

1867 J. A. Hosmer Trip to States by Yellowstone & Missouri 58 The boat‥struck the bar; they then began to work with the spars and nigger, and at two o'clock we got off. 1875 Knight Dict. Mech. 1878 J. H. Beadle Western Wilds 378 Then oaths, spars, ‘nigger-engine’ and all the other available machinery were set in operation. 1882 Harper's Mag. Jan. 175/2 One of the ‘nigger’ engines is suddenly called into service to tighten a two-inch rope, or wind up a discarded cable. 1890 Cent. Dict. 1900 Atlantic Monthly LXXXV. 103/2 ‘Carriages’, bright with red and green lanterns‥rush to and fro, seizing the logs as they come from the ‘kickers’ and ‘niggers’. 1910 S. E. White Rules of Game i. v. 32 When the car had flown back to its starting-point, the ‘nigger’ rose from obscurity to turn the log half-way round. 1929 Encycl. Brit. XIV. 482/1 A steam or air ‘nigger’ (mechanically operated steel arms) helps to place the log in the proper position.


4. a. In Soap-making: (see quot.).

1887 Dittmar & Paton in Encycl. Brit. XXII. 203 On settling a dark-coloured ‘nigger’, or under-lye separates out.


b. U.S. An impurity in the insulating covering of an electrical conductor.

a1890 Sci. Amer. LIV. 308 (Cent.), The consequence‥might be that what the workmen call a nigger would get into the armature, and burn it so as to destroy its service.


c. slang. (See quot. 1960.)

1934 Tit-Bits 31 Mar. 12/1 The film world has a colourful compilation of expressions unlike those in other walks of life. ‘Niggers’ are not men of colour, but blackboards used to ‘kill’ unwanted reflections from the powerful lights. 1937 A. Buchanan Film Making iii. 52 ‘Niggers’ are wooden oblong screens used to ‘nigger-off’ or shield light from faces, or shadows on walls, and so ‘Her face needs a nigger’ is not such an alarming statement as it sounds to the uninitiated. 1957 Manvell & Huntley Technique Film Music ii. 32 In silent film days we had all the apparatus we needed in the studios, with miles of cables, banks of arcs, and great screens (known in the industry as ‘niggers’) to reflect light and help shadow effects. 1960 O. Skilbeck ABC of Film & TV 89 Nigger, an adjustable Mask on a stand, used on the Floor to shield the camera from, or to achieve effects with, lights.


5. Comb., chiefly objective, as nigger-breaker, nigger-chaser, nigger-dealer, nigger-driver, nigger-killer, nigger-lover, nigger-stealer, nigger trader, nigger worship(per; nigger-driving, nigger-looking, nigger-loving adjs.

1845 F. Douglass Narr. Life F. Douglass 57 All of this added weight to his reputation as a ‘*nigger-breaker’. 1921 C. E. Mulford Bar-20 Three xvi. 217 Most likely they'll be *nigger-chasers th' way some folks'll be steppin' lively to get out of th' way. 1853 F. W. Thomas John Randolph 285 You know Robinson the *nigger-dealer, who has the pen down town. 1833 J. Neal Down Easters I. 70 When the *nigger-drivers falls out among themselves. 1861 Freeman in Stephens Life (1895) I. 270 Let the nigger-drivers go to the devil their own way. 1891 C. Roberts Adrift Amer. 198, I never came across such a beast of a nigger driver as this fellow Cole. 1856 Olmsted Slave States 108 If a man does not provide well for his slaves‥he gets the name of a ‘*nigger killer’. 1890 Cent. Dict. s.v. Grampus, The whip-tailed scorpion,‥also called mule-killer, nigger-killer. 1837 Lett. fr. Madras (1843) 99 He has a half-caste, dropsical wife, and a sickly *nigger-looking child. 1909 R. E. Knowles Attic Guest xiii. 178 ‘Then you can take what you deserve, curse you for a *nigger-lover,’ I heard the Colonel retort madly. 1924 American Mercury Feb. 135/2 Shorty—Nigger-lover! He throws the money in her face. 1930 J. Dos Passos 42nd Parallel ii. 140 ‘Niggerlover,’ yelled Joe in her ear.‥ Janey began to cry. 1958 Church Times 21 Nov. 6/4 You can call a man a Kaffir-Boetie in Johannesburg and a nigger-lover in the Southern States; but both mean precisely the same thing and have the same accent. 1959 Encounter Dec. 45/2 They nick our boys and let the Spades go!‥ Nigger-lovers! 1972 Guardian 3 July 8/2 Black Mountain College‥was a seat of free love, communism, and nigger-lovers. 1914 S. Lewis Our Mr. Wrenn 3 Mrs Zapp was too conscientiously dolorous to be much cheered by the sympathy of a *nigger-lovin' Yankee. 1962 Guardian 3 Oct. 1/6 It is still wise not to‥admit you represent such a Nigger-loving Red publication as the ‘Guardian’. 1975 J. Rathbone Kill Cure iii. iv. 106 You nigger-loving bitch. 1839 R. M. Bird Adventures R. Day I. xxv. 181, I was ‘a kidnapper, a Georgeye *nigger-stealer’. 1884 ‘Mark Twain’ Huck. Finn xxxiii. 314 Only I couldn't believe it. Tom Sawyer a nigger-stealer. 1853 F. W. Thomas John Randolph 285 He's not in favor of these regular *nigger-traders is he? 1884 ‘Mark Twain’ Huck. Finn viii. 60 But I noticed dey wuz a nigger trader roun' de place considerable lately en I begin to get oneasy. 1862 Russell in Times 29 Jan., The Conservative masses, which lie between negrolatry or *nigger-worship and Secession. 1866 Cornh. Mag. Jan. 37 The contempt which they‥have expressed for *nigger-worshippers during the Jamaica troubles.


6. attrib. (passing into adj.). a. Belonging to the Negro race; black-skinned. nigger-baby, nigger-blood, nigger boy, nigger girl, nigger-lips, nigger mouth; also nigger-blooded, nigger-skinned adjs.; nigger-dead adj.; nigger minstrel, one of a group of entertainers performing songs and dances typical of or based on plantation life in the Southern U.S., freq. by white men with blackened faces; also ellipt., nigger.

1872 Schele de Vere Americanisms 117 The real *nigger baby is known under the name of pickaninny. 1833 J. Neal Down-Easters I. 66 If there's a drop of *nigger-blood in 'em, they'll always show it in their temper. 1932 W. Faulkner Light in August v. 96 ‘Take your black hand off of me, you damn *niggerblooded—’ The hand shut down again. 1825 J. Neal Bro. Jonathan III. 207 Nobody there, I guess, but a *nigger boy. 1970 R. D. Abrahams Positively Black ii. 26 ‘Nigger boy,’ he said to me, ‘how'd you like to meet your maker right now?’ 1970 W. Ford in O. Coombs We speak as Liberators 43, I would tell of being Black and Proud and Black and Loud and Black and Bowed and Black and *niggerdead. 1836 Marryat Pirate iv, You've been sweet upon that *nigger girl. 1842 Barham Ingol. Leg. Ser. ii. Broth. Birch. xlv, Their *nigger inhabitants [devils] shook in their hoofs. 1922 Joyce Ulysses 219 From the hoardings Mr. Eugene Stratton grinned with thick *niggerlips at Father Conmee. 1860 A. J. Munby Diary 17 Mar. in D. Hudson Munby (1972) 56 My ‘comic’ friend suggested that I should apply to certain ‘*niggers’, who had just bowed themselves off the stage.‥ In this den were two or three men with blackened faces, taking off their shabby nigger costume. 1860 E. Cowell Diary 13 Sept. in Cowells in America (1934) 155 A Company of ‘nigger minstrels’ are to be here tomorrow night. 1883 Black Shandon Bells xvii, He‥made sure he was about to be serenaded by a nigger-minstrel. 1917 A. Waugh Loom of Youth ii. i. 93 And do you think he really imagines he is doing any good to his form by giving that nigger minstrel entertainment up there? 1959 I. & P. Opie Lore & Lang. Schoolch. i. 13 Nellie Bligh‥was the heroine of a mid-nineteenth-century nigger minstrel song by Stephen Foster. 1922 Joyce Ulysses 365 The dark one [sc. girl] with the mop head and the *nigger mouth. 1938 *Nigger-skinned [see fawn-eyed adj.].


b. Of or belonging to, occupied by, Negroes, as nigger culture, nigger dialect, nigger emancipation, nigger land, nigger melody, nigger music, nigger quarters, nigger show, nigger song. Also transf.

1970 J. B. Cole in A. Chapman New Black Voices (1972) iii. 493 When blacks refer to ‘*Nigger culture’, they often very explicitly speak of soul and style. 1834 Knickerbocker III. 445 And I would say too, that although mighty smart, and a mighty smart chance, mighty big, and mighty little was excellent ‘*nigger’ dialect, yet it was not so refined, as an orator might use. 1844 Dickens Mart. Chuz. xxi, He has been, and is, the advocate‥of *Nigger emancipation. 1834 R. H. Froude in Rem. (1838) I. 380 *Niggerland is a poor substitute for the limen Apostolorum. 1846 Knickerbocker XXVIII. 244 Captain Marin would give a touch from a sea-song, or a specimen of a ‘*nigger-melody’. 1857 J. D. Borthwick Three Yrs. in Calif. xii. 212 My entertainers, producing two violins, favoured me with a selection of Nigger melodies. 1873 M. E. Braddon L. Davoren I. Prol. ii. 21 Perhaps you could oblige us with a nigger melody. 1894 G. du Maurier Trilby I. iii. 219 He‥can even scream with laughter at‥a nigger melody. 1948 A. Lomax in A. Dundes Mother Wit (1973) 472/1 If you like this *nigger music. 1856 Olmsted Slave States 61 You'll see some *nigger-quarters. 1856 C. E. De Long in Calif. Hist. Soc. Q. (1930) IX. 60 Went to a *nigger show. 1884 ‘Mark Twain’ Huck. Finn xxvi. 261 They never go to the circus, nor theatre, nor nigger shows, nor nowheres. 1909 R. E. Knowles Attic Guest xiii. 156 They'll be flaunting that Uncle Tom's Cabin nigger show under your noses. 1844 United Service Jrnl. XLIV. 21 He was never at rest,—now singing a *nigger song on the deck. 1851 H. Mayhew London Labour I. 273/1, I sell ballads and manuscript music‥, which is ‘transposed’‥from the nigger songs.


c. In special uses, as nigger caterpillar, nigger-hair, nigger-jockey, nigger Latin (see quots.); nigger cloth = Negro cloth (Negro 7); nigger corner U.S., a part of a public building to which Negroes were confined; nigger fish, a small grouper, Cephalopholis fulvus, found in the West Indies and off the coast of Florida; = cony, coney n. 7b; nigger goose N. Amer. local (see quots.); nigger heaven U.S. slang, the top gallery in a theatre; nigger heel Naut. (see quot.); also nigger-heeled a. (see quot. 1961); nigger hunt, the organized pursuit of Negroes for the purpose of attacking them; so nigger-hunter, -hunting; nigger lice U.S., informal name of the prickly awns of various species of plants, esp. of the genus Desmodium; nigger luck, exceptionally good luck; nigger shooter U.S. slang, a catapult; nigger-stick U.S. slang (see quot. 1974); nigger toe U.S., a Brazil nut.

1850 Loudon Encycl. Gard. (ed. 2) 498 The black jack, or *nigger caterpillar, being the larva of Athalia centifoliæ. 1857 Chambers's Jrnl. 3 Jan. 3/2 The garments of‥copper-coloured *nigger cloth. 1860 J. G. Holland Miss Gilbert's Career iv. 61 You see he sells some of his nigger cloth for goods. 1955 W. Foster-Harris Look of Old West i. 38 Typically the cloth was linsey-woolsey.‥ ‘Nigger cloth’ it was called. It had been much used for slaves' garments, [etc.]. 1894 ‘Mark Twain’ in Century Mag. June 233/1 In the ‘*nigger corner’ sat Chambers. 1876 G. B. Goode Catal. Fishes Bermudas 60 The red form corresponds to Terranus ouatalibe, and is known as the *Nigger-fish. 1888 —— Amer. Fishes 321 Next in importance to the Plaice, comes the Flat Fish, Pseudopleuronectes Americanus.‥ New York anglers call it the ‘Nigger Fish’. 1917 T. G. Pearson Birds of Amer. I. 97/2 The Cormorants have many local names, such as ‘Shag’, ‘Lawyer’, and ‘*Nigger Goose’. 1941 R. Faherty Big Old Sun 313 You can eat curlew, or kill duck or coot or niggergoose if they come flying out yonder. 1947 National Geographic Mag. Sept. 339/1 A large flight of cormorants, called there [sc. in North Carolina] ‘nigger geese’, passed close aboard. 1957 W. L. McAtee Folk-Names Canad. Birds 5 Double-crested Cormorant‥nigger goose (in allusion to its colour and its goose-like appearance, especially when in flight in the V-formation so closely associated with the common Canada goose). 1852 Smithson. Contrib. Knowl. V. ii. 41 This plant [Polysiphonia arietina] is common in various places in Long Island Sound.‥ ‘Pooh! that's what we call “*nigger-hair”’. 1878 A. Daly in J. F. Daly Life A. Daly (1917) 249 There is a ‘*Nigger Heaven’ (as the third tier is called in Troy) here, & as 'tis very capacious I have been liberal with my pencilled passes. 1931 ‘D. Stiff’ Milk & Honey Route xiv. 151 These‥entertainments‥have raised their prices beyond the reach of the hobo, unless he wants to go to ‘nigger heaven’. 1973 A. Dundes Mother Wit 222 This extension or transformation of the ‘Nigger Heaven’ stereotype has no doubt contributed to the continued currency of Harlem folk speech. 1901 Rudder XII. 302/2 The after leech would take an incurve or ‘*nigger heel’, as sailmakers call it. 1922 C. G. Davis How Sails are Made (ed. 2) 63 A double-bighted sail would, if not carefully handled and hauled out too hard on peak and clew, become ‘*nigger-heeled’, as a hollow leech was called. 1934 Yachting Monthly LVII. 11/1 We were watching a hawse~fallen sloop beating in under a badly nigger-heeled mainsail. 1961 F. H. Burgess Dict. Sailing 150 Niggerheeled, said of the leech of a sail that curves inward of a line from peak to clew, and is therefore not roached. 1834 Chambers's Edin. Jrnl. III. 135/3 When a slave runs away‥a party is made up for a *nigger hunt. 1940 E. Caldwell Trouble in July x. 165 This ain't no nigger-hunt—this here's a jawing match! 1959 Encounter Mar. 87 The young ‘*nigger-hunters’ of Notting Hill. 1834 Chambers's Edin. Jrnl. III. 135/3 In Kentucky‥*nigger-hunting is a favourite sport. 1958 Encounter Dec. 4/2 They had then armed themselves,‥and had gone on what they described‥as a ‘nigger-hunting expedition’. 1971 in C. Mullard Black Britain (1973) iv. xi. 142 The racists, who were no doubt nigger hunting, as they call it, felt that this was easy meat. 1838 Haliburton Clockm. Ser. ii. iii, A *nigger-jockey‥is a gentleman that trades in niggers,—buys them in one state, and sells them in another, where they arn't known. 1859 M. Pattison Ess. (1889) I. 65 It is in perpetual conflict with the rules of good Latinity,‥partly from the addle~headed understanding of the characters supposed to write this *nigger Latin. 1933 Sun (Baltimore) 11 Sept. 6/7 The iron weed with its deep color, and‥great clumps of ‘*nigger lice’. 1940 H. L. Mencken Happy Days 43 Sometimes a black-hearted boy would sneak into the adjacent brickyard, which was covered in large part with Jimpson weeds, plantains and other such vegetable outlaws, and return with a large ball of nigger-lice. 1946 Sun (Baltimore) 2 Oct. 12/3 When I spoke the other day of ‘nigger lice’, I was referring to the tick trefoil, its scientific name. 1851 R. Glisan Jrnl. Army Life (1874) 90, I occasionally made him a little envious by my *nigger-luck, as he is pleased to term it. 1900 R. H. Savage Midnight Passenger (1901) 135 It has been a great stroke of nigger luck. 1909 Dialect Notes III. 352 You can't beat me playing dominoes. It's jest your nigger-luck that gets away with me. 1876 E. W. Heap Diary 26 Feb. in Publ. Amer. Dial. Soc. (1969) lii. 53, I had a job on hand making *Nigger shooters for Dr's children. 1883 Sweet & Knox On Mexican Mustang through Texas 339 Just about the time people have got used to tops buzzing about their ears, the ‘nigger-shooter’ mania breaks out. 1901 Ade Forty Mod. Fables 172 All you wanted to do was to tear out with those Toughs and kill Birds with Nigger-Shooters. 1963 R. I. McDavid Mencken's Amer. Lang. vi. 284 In the South it [sc. a slingshot] is still sometimes called a nigger-shooter. 1971 Guardian 18 Sept. 11/7 Conditions inside American prisons.‥ Prisoners live their lives at the end of gun barrels and what are often known as ‘*nigger-sticks’. 1973 Black Panther 15 Sept. 17/3 They were attacked and brutally beaten by 50 to 60 guards armed with tear gas, plexiglass shields and four-foot long ‘nigger sticks’. 1974 Guidelines to Volunteer Services (N.Y. State, Dept. Correctional Services) 42 Niggerstick, officer's baton. 1896 Dialect Notes I. 421 *Nigger toes: for Brazil nuts. 1958 J. M. Lacy in A. Dundes Mother Wit (1973) 597/2 He buys‥nuts called ‘nigger toes’. 1973 Times 27 Aug. 5/8 In Virginia brazil nuts are called nigger-toes and chewed with great relish.


Hence ˈniggerdom, collectively. ˈniggerish a., pertaining to, characteristic of, the Negro. ˈniggerism, (a) Negro blood; (b) a term or expression peculiar to Negroes. ˈniggerling, a little Negro.

1862 Congress. Globe 28 Mar. 1414/2 New England, where they hate *niggerdom worse than the devil. 1868 Good Words 1 Oct. 603/2 The conquering nigger‥caught many of the Aborigines, blacked them over, and sent them off to proclaim the glories of Niggerdom. 1876 Besant & Rice Gold. Butterfly xxx, The modern Arabs, the gipsies, niggerdom in general. 1825 J. Neal Bro. Jonathan II. 67 Ye great *niggerish lookin’, wap-sided haw. 1866 Atlantic Monthly XVIII. 79 When I say ‘colored’, I mean one thing, respectfully; and when I say ‘niggerish’, I mean another, disgustedly. Ibid., My Auntie's piety was not of the niggerish kind. 1844 Fraser's Mag. XXIX. 656 An individual tainted even in the eighth degree with *niggerism. 1844 St. Louis (Missouri) Reveille 24 Nov. 2/4 Scrub and whitewash your spiritual niggerism, or you will forever rest in the valley of Sheol! 1856 Illinois State Register (Springfield) 19 June 2/1 For every democrat who deserts to niggerism, one hundred old line whigs join the democracy against it. 1873 Porcupine 19 Apr. 38/3 For the occasional dash or suspicion of niggerism in the mangling of the words, common custom and coincidence will quite account. 1883 Winthrop Edwin Brothertoft ii. v, [To] ventriloquize derisive niggerisms through the larynx. 1970 G. Jackson Let. 10 June in Soledad Brother (1971) 33 He and my mother went to great pains to impress on me that it was the worst form of niggerism to hook and jab‥at other blacks. 1842 Hood Black Job viii, All the little *Niggerlings emerge As lily white as mussels.