- 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 coolie
The coolie was again bound, this time more tightly than ever.In the Forbidden Land
Arnold Henry Savage Landor
But, while the negro can do more work in a day than the coolie, he won't.Plotting in Pirate Seas
As he had evolved from a coolie labourer to a multi-millionaire, so had his name evolved.The House of Pride
To fall to the job of a coolie is, for the Hindu, the worst declassment.The New World of Islam
Two reluctant men were sent to the relief of the coolie in distress.An Explorer's Adventures in Tibet
A. Henry Savage Landor
- a cheaply hired unskilled Oriental labourer
- derogatory an Indian living in South Africa
Word Origin and History for coolie
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.