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or picaninny, piccaninny

[pik-uh-nin-ee] /ˈpɪk əˌnɪn i/
noun, plural pickaninnies. Older Use: Now Offensive.
a term used to refer to a black child.
Origin of pickaninny
Jamaican English
West African English
1645-55; probably ultimately < Portuguese pequenino, diminutive of pequeno small; as a word for “small child,” pickaninny and its variants are widespread in English-based creoles of the New World and West Africa; compare Jamaican English pickney, West African English pickin small child
Usage note
This is a dated term, originally used in a neutral or even affectionate way among slaves in the West Indies, but now perceived as insulting. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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British Dictionary definitions for pickaninny


noun (pl) -nies
a variant spelling (esp US) of piccaninny
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
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