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[red-skin] /ˈrɛdˌskɪn/
noun, Older Slang: Disparaging and Offensive.
a contemptuous term used to refer to a North American Indian.
Origin of redskin
?1760-70; red1 + skin; probably loan translation of French peau rouge, itself translated from an American Indian term
Usage note
The date and origin of this term is in dispute. Evidence seems to show that in the 1760s, French colonists in the Mississippi Valley translated a Native American spoken term into the French language as peau rouge, which was then translated into English as redskin. Through the early part of the 19th century, American Indians continued to use their native word self-referentially, and it was translated into spoken and written English as redskin with no derogatory connotations, even as a term of respect. However, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, within the historical context of white-Indian hostilities, use of the term redskin was associated with attitudes of contempt and condescension. By the 1960s, redskin had declined in use; because of heightened cultural sensitivities, it was perceived as offensive. Yet use of the term survives in the names of some sports teams. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for redskin
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • A third man was something between the white-man and the redskin.

    The Hound From The North Ridgwell Cullum
  • If a redskin had found it, he'd have taken better care o' it.

    The Fiery Totem Argyll Saxby
  • The redskin who threw me in here said he would kill me if I left.

    Rodney, the Ranger John V. Lane
  • In his guttural tongue the redskin appealed to Dan for a drink of water.

    For the Liberty of Texas Edward Stratemeyer
  • Moreover, the redskin made the mistake of trying to cling to his gun.

    Oh, You Tex! William Macleod Raine
  • Be that as it may, the redskin showed a commendable promptness in all that he did.

    Two Boys in Wyoming Edward S. Ellis
  • "Yes; a redskin helped me to make it," and he explained the nature of his discovery.

    Two Boys in Wyoming Edward S. Ellis
  • Silently the redskin turned away and disappeared into the path.

    Frank Merriwell's Pursuit Burt L. Standish
British Dictionary definitions for redskin


an old-fashioned informal name, now considered taboo, for a Native American
Word Origin
C17: so called because one particular tribe, the now extinct Beothuks of Newfoundland, painted themselves with red ochre
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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Word Origin and History for redskin

"American Indian," 1690s, from red (adj.1) + skin (n.). Red as the skin color of Native Americans is from 1580s; red man is from 1580s. Cf. red cent.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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