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high yellow

noun, Slang: Sometimes Disparaging and Offensive.
a term used to refer to a light-skinned black person.
Also, high yaller
[yal-er] /ˈyæl ər/ (Show IPA),
high yeller [yel-er] /ˈyɛl ər/ (Show IPA).
Origin of high yellow
First recorded in 1920-25
Related forms
high-yellow, adjective
Usage note
This term implies that the person has a high proportion of white ancestry and looks more like a white person than a black person. The term was most commonly used in the American South in the late 19th century and early 20th century, though it is still sometimes used by both white and black people today.See also yellow. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for high yellow
Historical Examples
  • They never forgave him for marrying anything but a 'high yellow.'

    The Forged Note Oscar Micheaux
  • One of the stops has seen a stirring in the high yellow grass.

  • Long, thin, gray locks fell back from a high yellow forehead: there was blood on his mouth and about his beard.

    The Mark Of Cain Andrew Lang
  • Behind a high yellow sandy cone back of the town, a black cloud peeped.

    Beginners Luck Emily Hahn
  • The thick little blonde one, with the high yellow hair, lives in our ward.

    The Lost Art of Reading Gerald Stanley Lee
  • Then I saw what looked like a high yellow wall advancing upon me—a roaring and fearsome mass of driven dust, sticks, debris.

    Painted Windows Elia W. Peattie
  • We go to the further end of the hospital, to a high yellow door, upon which is written in great black letters: Amphitheatre.

    Germinie Lacerteux Edmond and Jules de Goncourt
  • Without awaiting her reply, the attendant led the way to a high yellow door, over which was written: Amphitheatre.

    Germinie Lacerteux Edmond and Jules de Goncourt
  • They made their rounds between the high yellow cones built up of grain-stalks and filled the hot air with golden dust.

    Cathedrals of Spain

    John A. (John Allyne) Gade
  • When they came to the high yellow wall, where the lane turned off from the road, Helen was for dismissing the two young men.

    The Voyage Out Virginia Woolf
Slang definitions & phrases for high yellow

high yellow

noun phrase

A light-skinned black person, esp an attractive young woman: I mean high-yellow girls/ took some little high-yaller girl in the closet one day (1923+ Black)

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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