noun, plural pic·a·nin·nies.

Nearby words

  1. pic,
  2. pica,
  3. picabia,
  4. picadillo,
  5. picador,
  6. picante,
  7. picara,
  8. picard,
  9. picard, jean,
  10. picardy


or pic·a·nin·ny, pic·ca·nin·ny


noun, plural pick·a·nin·nies. Older Use: Now Offensive.

a term used to refer to a black child.

Origin of pickaninny

1645–55; probably ultimately < Portuguese pequenino, diminutive of pequeno small; as a word for “small child,” pickaninny and its variants are widespread in English-based creoles of the New World and West Africa; compare Jamaican English pickney, West African English pickin small child

Usage note

This is a dated term, originally used in a neutral or even affectionate way among slaves in the West Indies, but now perceived as insulting.

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

British Dictionary definitions for picaninny


noun plural -nies

a variant spelling (esp US) of piccaninny
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