from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • adjective dated, offensive Relating to the black ethnicity.
  • adjective dated, offensive Black or dark brown in color.
  • noun Alternative capitalization of Negro


from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Spanish and Portuguese negro ("black"), from Latin nigrum, masculine accusative case of niger ("black"), from Proto-Indo-European *negr-, *negʷr- (“coloured, dark”). Cognate with Old Armenian ներկ (nerk, "paint, dye, colour").


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  • Nowadays, calling someone a negro is only a tiny bit better than calling them a nigger.

    August 24, 2008

  • What makes you think this?

    August 24, 2008

  • rolig: Just try calling a black person a negro to his face.

    August 24, 2008

  • Well, I wouldn't do that, unless we were friends and joking around, because most black Americans (I'm not that familiar with how blacks in other countries feel about the matter) prefer to be called "African-American" and view the word Negro as a historical term. I don't know (and I'd be glad to hear from any African-American wordies about what they think) if anyone would get particularly upset if I were to refer, for example, to "the percentage of homeowners among Negroes in Alabama in 1950 compared to the percentage among Caucasians." It's all about context.

    I guess I could compare this to the word "homosexual". It's not a friendly word, but it's not insulting either. People who use it exclusively because they have trouble saying "gay" or "lesbian" are probably not friendly toward gay and lesbian people. But there is no way that I would compare "homosexual" to, say, "faggot" as a term of abuse. And the same, I would guess, is how blacks feel about Negro vs. nigger.

    August 24, 2008

  • Negro was indeed the acceptable word for a black person, but that was 50 years ago when the Jim Crow laws were still in effect in huge parts of America. Through mere association, that word now carries racist implications, in my opinion.

    And also, it sounds like a prelude to saying "nigger", which is why some closet racists revel in using it publically instead of nigger. Not to mention that some people have a kneejerk reaction to any word containing "nig", such as denigrate or Nigeria.

    August 24, 2008

  • I understand your point, and agree that a white person who insists on using the word "Negro" instead of "African-American" or even "black" almost certainly has a problem with regard to race. But I would point out that back in the days of Jim Crow, "Negro" was the respectful way to refer to people of African ancestry, as was also "colored person." Neither expression ever carried derogatory connotations in themselves (compare the name of the civil rights organization NAACP). And even today, I don't think the word "Negro" is in itself derogatory; mostly, it signifies to me the bias or ignorance of the person using the word.

    A good friend of mine, who is black, the vice president of a major company, and also a rather large man, likes to use the word to describe the effect he has when he walks into a room of older, conservative, wealthy white people: "I just know what they're thinking: 'Who is this large Negro man and what is he doing here?'" My friend's point, I think, it that he imagine such people to be mentally stuck back in the 1960s.

    As for people, who can't hear the difference between words like Negro, nigger, Nigeria, Niger, niggardly, Negritude, Negroponte, etc., well, they should learn to use a dictionary.

    August 24, 2008

  • And the United Negro College Fund is a respected organization.

    August 26, 2008