piccaninny

[ pik-uh-nin-ee ]
/ ˈpɪk əˌnɪn i /

noun, plural pic·ca·nin·nies.


Nearby words

  1. picayune,
  2. piccadilly,
  3. piccadilly circus,
  4. piccalilli,
  5. piccanin,
  6. piccard,
  7. piccard, auguste,
  8. piccata,
  9. piccinni,
  10. piccinni, niccolò

Origin of piccaninny

First recorded in 1650–60

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

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 piccaninny

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

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

Word Origin and History for piccaninny

piccaninny

n.

also pickaninny, 1650s, from West Indies patois, formed as a diminutive from Spanish pequeño or Portuguese pequeno "little, small," of uncertain origin, related to French petit (see petit (adj.)). As late as 1836 applied affectionately to any small child or baby, regardless of race.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper