coon

[koon]

Origin of coon

An Americanism dating back to 1735–45; aphetic form
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for coon

Historical Examples of coon


British Dictionary definitions for coon

coon

noun
  1. informal short for raccoon
  2. offensive, slang a Black person or a native Australian
  3. Southern African offensive a person of mixed race
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 coon
n.

short for raccoon, 1742, American English. It was the nickname of Whig Party members in U.S. c.1848-60, as the raccoon was the party's symbol, and it also had associations with frontiersmen (who stereotypically wore raccoon-skin caps), which probably ultimately was the source of the Whig Party sense (the party's 1840 campaign was built on a false image of wealthy William Henry Harrison as a rustic frontiersman).

The insulting U.S. meaning "black person" was in use by 1837, said to be ultimately from Portuguese barracoos "building constructed to hold slaves for sale." No doubt boosted by the enormously popular blackface minstrel act "Zip Coon" (George Washington Dixon) which debuted in New York City in 1834. But it is perhaps older (one of the lead characters in the 1767 colonial comic opera "The Disappointment" is a black man named Raccoon). Coon's age is 1843, American English, probably an alteration of British a crow's age.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper