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2017 Word of the Year

Aunt Jemima

noun
1.
Slang: Disparaging and Offensive. a black woman considered by other black people to be subservient to or to curry favor with white people.
Compare Uncle Tom.
Origin of Aunt Jemima
1885-1890
First recorded in 1885-90; after the trademarked name of a brand of pancake mixes and associated products, featuring a picture of a black female cook on the packaging
Usage note
The trademarked name and image of Aunt Jemima, as used by the Quaker Oats Company on some of its products, was originally the name of a stereotypical African American character in minstrel shows of the late 19th century. The image used on product packaging, originally a fat, smiling black woman with a kerchief in her hair, has been altered over the years to eliminate racial stereotypes, though the Aunt Jemima product name remains problematic. By depicting servility and subservience to white people, Aunt Jemima retains its offensive racist overtones.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for Aunt Jemima
Historical Examples
  • Aunt Jemima watched him in grim silence to the foot of the stairs.

    The Golden Shoemaker

    J. W. Keyworth
  • Her father laughed indulgently, and even Aunt Jemima smiled.

    The Golden Shoemaker

    J. W. Keyworth
  • Aunt Jemima was to go ahead and see that these preparations were carried out.

    Kennedy Square F. Hopkinson Smith
  • Aunt Jemima choked and nodded: there was no breath left for more.

    Kennedy Square F. Hopkinson Smith
  • It did not seem possible to Aunt Jemima that Lucilla would not tell.

    Miss Marjoribanks Mrs (Margaret) Oliphant
  • Aunt Jemima, for her part, lingered a little with Lucilla downstairs.

    Miss Marjoribanks Mrs (Margaret) Oliphant
  • Aunt Jemima, you're so provoking that I sometimes think I shall have to leave you.

    Marion Fay

    Anthony Trollope
  • Mr. Greenbank is the only person who has asked me, and Aunt Jemima says no one else ever will!

  • So he took a seat on a barrel-head and began to scrub it off; but he found it something like Aunt Jemima's plaster.

    The Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe

    Amanda Minnie Douglas
  • He was sitting with Aunt Jemima when Lucilla came in, and talking to her in a steady sort of a way.

    Miss Marjoribanks Mrs (Margaret) Oliphant
Contemporary definitions for Aunt Jemima
noun

the world's first living trademark, Nancy Green, who demonstrated the ready-mixed, self-rising pancake flour created in 1889.

Examples

In the image of "Aunt Jemima," the Nancy Green legend lives on.

Dictionary.com's 21st Century Lexicon
Copyright © 2003-2014 Dictionary.com, LLC
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