or pic·a·nin·ny, pic·ca·nin·ny
- 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
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. 2018
Examples from the Web for pickaninny
Just as I got out there came along the Pickaninny that had gone over on the rainbow.
Piccaninny, Pickaninny, pik′a-nin-i, n. a little child: an African or negro child.
Having bought a fowl from a native in a canoe, the native asked me if I wanted “Pickaninny stop along him fella.”The Cruise of the Snark
Presently a Pickaninny came along with a small keg in his hands.
- a variant spelling (esp US) of piccaninny