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Chinaman

[chahy-nuh-muh n]
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noun, plural Chi·na·men.
  1. Older Use: Offensive. a term used to refer to a Chinese person or a person of Chinese descent.
  2. (often lowercase) Older Slang: Offensive. a person regarded as one's benefactor, sponsor, or protector: to see one's chinaman about a favor.
  3. (lowercase) Archaic. a person who imports or sells china.
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Idioms
  1. a Chinaman's chance, Older Use: Offensive. the slightest chance: He hasn't a Chinaman's chance of getting that job.
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Origin of Chinaman

First recorded in 1765–75; China + -man

Usage note

Historically, Chinaman was a neutral compound word, similar to Irishman or Englishman , but it began to take on negative connotations in the 19th century, when many Chinese immigrants went to work in the American West. The expression a Chinaman's chance originally made reference to these Chinese laborers, though the exact origin of the phrase is disputed.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for chinaman

Historical Examples

  • On the instant the old Chinaman was electrified into sudden and astounding action.

    The Monster Men

    Edgar Rice Burroughs

  • During these revelations Bulan had sat with his eyes fixed upon the Chinaman.

    The Monster Men

    Edgar Rice Burroughs

  • He, and he alone, in this insane city, will wait at table (the Chinaman doesn't count).

    American Notes

    Rudyard Kipling

  • The by-standers went their ways, and the Chinaman, assisted by the policeman, his own.

    American Notes

    Rudyard Kipling

  • And when the Chinaman saw the dog, he said to him, "what do you do for a living?"

    Five Mice in a Mouse-trap

    Laura E. Richards


British Dictionary definitions for chinaman

Chinaman

noun plural -men
  1. archaic, or derogatory a native or inhabitant of China
  2. (often not capital) cricket a ball bowled by a left-handed bowler to a right-handed batsman that spins from off to leg
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Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for chinaman

Chinaman

n.

1711, "native of China," from China + man (n.). Also in 18c., "dealer in china wares" (1728).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper