or dark·ie


noun, plural dark·ies. Older Use: Now Offensive.

a term used to refer to a black person.

Origin of darky

First recorded in 1765–75; dark + -y2

Usage note

The earliest uses of darky in English were sentimental, probably affectionate in intent, although it is likely that even then, those who were addressed or referred to by the term found it patronizing. For example, the lyrics of Stephen Foster's song My Old Kentucky Home (1853) refer with nostalgia to happy darkies. But by the early part of the 20th century, the term had became increasingly offensive and unacceptable. Current versions of the Foster lyrics refer instead to “people.”
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for darky

Historical Examples of darky

  • I gave Darky some hay, and then left my sanctuary, without knowing where I was going.

    Down The River

    Oliver Optic

  • I warmed my fingers a little at the stove, and then went out to take care of Darky.

    Down The River

    Oliver Optic

  • I drove Darky into a shed, and amused myself by looking around the premises.

    Down The River

    Oliver Optic

  • Down cellar, under the Bed, in the Darky's grip or anywhere.

  • Darky had written an ode to the man who founded this class of lodging-house, and had received personal thanks.


    W. H. (William Henry) Davies

British Dictionary definitions for darky


darkie or darkey

noun plural darkies or darkeys informal

an offensive word for a Black person
Australian an offensive word for a native Australian
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 darky

"black person" (now offensive), 1775, from dark (adj.) + -y (3). Related: Darkies.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper