Definitions

from The American HeritageĀ® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A gold coin issued in England from 1663 to 1813 and worth one pound and one shilling.
  • n. The sum of one pound and one shilling.
  • n. Offensive Slang Used as a disparaging term for a person of Italian birth or descent.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A person of Italian descent.
  • n. A gold coin originally worth twenty shillings and originally made from gold imported from Africa; later (from 1717 until the adoption of decimal currency) standardised at a value of twenty-one shillings.
  • n. A ground-foraging bird of Africa, of the family Numididea. Domesticated strains include Pearl, White, Buff, Blue, Purple and Lavender. Also called guinea fowl.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A district on the west coast of Africa (formerly noted for its export of gold and slaves) after which the Guinea fowl, Guinea grass, Guinea peach, etc., are named.
  • n. A gold coin of England current for twenty-one shillings sterling, or about five dollars, but not coined since the issue of sovereigns in 1817.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. An English gold coin, of the value of 21 shillings, first issued by Charles II. in 1663, and by his successors till 1813, since which year it has not been coined.
  • n. A money of account, of the value of 21 shillings, still often used in English reckonings.
  • n. A guinea-fowl.
  • n. An Italian.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. (ethnic slur) offensive term for a person of Italian descent
  • n. a republic in western Africa on the Atlantic; formerly a French colony; achieved independence from France in 1958
  • n. a west African bird having dark plumage mottled with white; native to Africa but raised for food in many parts of the world
  • n. a former British gold coin worth 21 shillings

Etymologies

After the Guinea coast of Africa, the source of the gold from which it was first made.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Guinea, the country in West Africa. The name comes from the Berber term "aginaw" via Portuguese; it originally meant "black" (or, in context, "land of the blacks.") (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • For these reasons, in the 1890s the term guinea, which had been used for slaves from the coast of West Africa, was applied to Italian Americans.

    A Renegade History of the United States

  • It has been forbidden to supply the English ships; but for plenty money it is done sometimes; but the finger must be placed upon the nose, and upon the two eyes what you call the guinea; and in six hours where are they?

    Springhaven : a Tale of the Great War

  • I yesterday had a present of a guinea from a gentleman, a Mr Vaughn, who had read my book, and had desir'd the publisher to send me to his house, I write now to Mr Lofft, and Mr Gedge.

    Letter 30

  • The vaccine virus was also grown in guinea pig fibroblast cells.

    Varicella (Chickenpox) Vaccine

  • Jacobson's recent report concerning the use of reticulocyte reactions in guinea pigs is suggestive of fruitful results.

    George R. Minot - Nobel Lecture

  • As a result of very promising work with experimental tuberculosis in guinea pigs, Feldman and

    Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 1952 - Presentation Speech

  • I only mean half a guinea is nothing in comparison to ten guineas, which is the price of the ear-rings; and so that makes me think it's pity the young lady should lose an opportunity of getting them so cheap.

    Camilla: or, A Picture of Youth

  • 'I'll run to them immediately,' cried she, 'for my half guinea is in an agony to be gone!'

    Camilla: or, A Picture of Youth

  • 'What can be done then? my half guinea is gone; and, to confess the truth, I have not another I can well spare!'

    Camilla: or, A Picture of Youth

  • Amongst these, the late poet Southey, to whom he was personally known, took occasion to suggest to a knot of wealthy individuals a simple and ready means to rescue him from present necessity, and secure him from future embarrassment, by an annual subscription of Ā£10 each; and thus ten gentlemen 'to whom a guinea was a grain of sand' might have lengthened life, wedded gratitude to genius, and done honor to their country.

    Introduction: Tim Fulford

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