- an unskilled laborer, especially formerly in China and India.
- an unskilled laborer employed cheaply, especially one brought from Asia.
- a contemptuous term used to refer to an Asian, especially an Indian living in South Africa.
- Informal. characteristic of or suitable for a coolie: working for coolie wages.
Origin of coolie
Examples from the Web for cooly
Leto even knows he killed the performance, cooly uttering, “There you go...” at the end.The Best (and Worst) Rihanna Covers: Jared Leto, Vin Diesel, Selena Gomez, More
The Daily Beast
September 19, 2013
Cooly (Tamil kúli), a labourer in the fields; also a porter.Indian Fairy Tales
That's the whole force of the illustration, to my mind, Cooly.Red Pepper's Patients
Grace S. Richmond
As you are cooly to decide, I will as cooly give you the qualities of my mistress.James Fenimore Cooper
Mary E. Phillips
He had been much in war; careless of wounds, he was cooly intent on destroying the enemy.
Horatio cooly said, he could not but confess he had been to blame, and must therefore allow the justice of her proceeding.The Fortunate Foundlings
Eliza Fowler Haywood
- a cheaply hired unskilled Oriental labourer
- derogatory an Indian living in South Africa
Word Origin and History for cooly
name given by Europeans to hired laborers in India and China, c.1600, from Hindi quli "hired servant," probably from kuli, name of an aboriginal tribe or caste in Gujarat. The name was picked up by the Portuguese, who used it in southern India (where by coincidence kuli in Tamil meant "hire") and in China.