noun, plural Ne·groes.

Anthropology. (no longer in technical use) a member of the peoples traditionally classified as the Negro race, especially those who originate in sub-Saharan Africa.
Older Use: Often Offensive. a black person.


Anthropology. (no longer in technical use) of, relating to, or characteristic of one of the traditional racial divisions of humankind, generally marked by brown to black skin pigmentation, dark eyes, and tightly curled hair and including especially the indigenous peoples of Africa south of the Sahara.
Older Use. of or relating to black people, often African Americans: a Negro spiritual: the Negro leagues in baseball.

Origin of Negro

1545–55; < Spanish and Portuguese negro ‘black’ < Latin nigrum, masculine accusative of niger ‘black’

Usage note

See black.


[ney-groh; Spanish ne-graw; Portuguese ne-groo]


a river in NW South America, flowing SE from E Colombia through N Brazil into the Amazon. 1400 miles (2255 km) long.
a river in S Argentina, flowing E from the Andes to the Atlantic. 700 miles (1125 km) long.
a river in SE South America, flowing S from Brazil and W through Uruguay, to the Uruguay River. About 500 miles (800 km) long.
Also called Negro River.Portuguese Ri·o Ne·gro [ree-oo ne-groo] /ˈri ʊ ˈnɛ grʊ/.Spanish Rí·o Ne·gro [ree-oh ney-groh; Spanish ree-aw ne-graw] /ˈri oʊ ˈneɪ groʊ; Spanish ˈri ɔ ˈnɛ grɔ/. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for negro

Afro-American, Negro, African

Examples from the Web for negro

Contemporary Examples of negro

Historical Examples of negro

  • "Eighty-five," said the clerk; and the drummer and the Negro disappeared.

  • This brought the negro a few steps in front of his companion.

  • One could see the negro now; he sat on a barrel at the end of the room.

  • He wouldn't have a negro on the place that he had to watch, nor one that wasn't happy.

    The Underdog

    F. Hopkinson Smith

  • "The change that has come over the South—to the negro," I answered.

    The Underdog

    F. Hopkinson Smith

British Dictionary definitions for negro



noun plural -groes

a member of any of the dark-skinned indigenous peoples of Africa and their descendants elsewhere


relating to or characteristic of Negroes
Derived FormsNegroism, noun

Word Origin for Negro

C16: from Spanish or Portuguese: black, from Latin niger black



noun Río Negro

a river in NW South America, rising in E Colombia (as the Guainía) and flowing east, then south as part of the border between Colombia and Venezuela, entering Brazil and continuing southeast to join the Amazon at Manáus. Length: about 2250 km (1400 miles)
a river in S central Argentina, formed by the confluence of the Neuquén and Limay Rivers and flowing east and southeast to the Atlantic. Length: about 1014 km (630 miles)
a river in central Uruguay, rising in S Brazil and flowing southwest into the Uruguay River. Length: about 467 km (290 miles)
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 negro



"member of a black-skinned race of Africa," 1550s, from Spanish or Portuguese negro "black," from Latin nigrum (nominative niger) "black, dark, sable, dusky," figuratively "gloomy, unlucky, bad, wicked," of unknown origin (perhaps from PIE *nekw-t- "night," cf. Watkins). As an adjective from 1590s. Use with a capital N- became general early 20c. (e.g. 1930 in "New York Times" stylebook) in reference to U.S. citizens of African descent, but because of its perceived association with white-imposed attitudes and roles the word was ousted late 1960s in this sense by Black (q.v.).

Professor Booker T. Washington, being politely interrogated ... as to whether negroes ought to be called 'negroes' or 'members of the colored race' has replied that it has long been his own practice to write and speak of members of his race as negroes, and when using the term 'negro' as a race designation to employ the capital 'N' ["Harper's Weekly," June 2, 1906]

Meaning "English language as spoken by U.S. blacks" is from 1704. French nègre is a 16c. borrowing from Spanish negro.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper