piccaninny

[ pik-uh-nin-ee ]
/ ˈpɪk əˌnɪn i /

noun, plural pic·ca·nin·nies.

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Origin of piccaninny

First recorded in 1650–60

Definition for piccaninny (2 of 2)

pickaninny

or pic·a·nin·ny, pic·ca·nin·ny

[ pik-uh-nin-ee ]
/ ˈpɪk əˌnɪn i /

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 for pickaninny

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. 2020

British Dictionary definitions for piccaninny (1 of 2)

piccaninny

esp US pickaninny

/ (ˌpɪkəˈnɪnɪ) /

noun plural -nies

offensive a small Black or Aboriginal child
(modifier) tinya piccaninny fire won't last long

Word Origin for piccaninny

C17: perhaps from Portuguese pequenino tiny one, from pequeno small

British Dictionary definitions for piccaninny (2 of 2)

pickaninny
/ (ˌpɪkəˈnɪnɪ) /

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