African American



a black American of African descent.


of or relating to African Americans.

Also Af·ri·can-A·mer·i·can, Afro-American.

Origin of African American

An Americanism dating back to 1860–65

Usage note

See black. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for african-american

British Dictionary definitions for african-american



an American of African descent


of or relating to Americans of African descent


This is the currently preferred term in the US for people of African ancestry
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 african-american


isolated instances from at least 1863 (Afro-American is attested in 1853, in freemen's publications in Canada), but the modern use is a re-invention first attested 1969 (in reference to the African-American Teachers Association) which became the preferred term in some circles for "U.S. black" (noun or adjective) by the late 1980s. Mencken, 1921, reports Aframerican "is now very commonly used in the Negro press."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper