(redirected from Kaffirs)
Also found in: Thesaurus, Financial, Encyclopedia.


also kaf·fir  (kăf′ər)
n. pl. Kaffir or Kaf·firs Offensive
1. A Xhosa.
2. Used especially in southern Africa as a disparaging term for a black person.

[Arabic kāfir, infidel (applied to the non-Muslim peoples of southern Africa originally by Muslim merchants and slave-traders operating in the region before the arrival of Europeans); see giaour.]
Usage Note: Because Kaffir is an offensive, disparaging term, many fruits and vegetables whose name traditionally included the word kaffir have been renamed, such as makrut lime for kaffir lime and durra for kaffir corn.


(ˈkæfə) or


n, pl -firs or -fir
1. taboo (in southern Africa) any Black African
2. (Islam) offensive (among Muslims) a non-Muslim or infidel
[C19: from Arabic kāfir infidel, from kafara to deny, refuse to believe]
Usage: In South Africa the use of this word is nowadays completely taboo, and is indeed actionable in the courts. It is also advisable not to use the word in any of the compounds to which it gave rise


(ˈkæf ər, ˈkɑ fər)

n., pl. -firs, (esp. collectively) -fir.
usage: Definition 1 is a slur and should be avoided. It is used with disparaging intent and is perceived as highly insulting. It was usually a neutral term in earlier times, but its degree of offensiveness has increased markedly in recent years.
1. Extremely Disparaging and Offensive. (a contemptuous term used in South Africa to refer to a black person.)
3. Archaic. Xhosa.
[1780–90; < Arabic kāfir infidel]
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.Kaffir - important for human and animal foodkaffir - important for human and animal food; growth habit and stem form similar to Indian corn but having sawtooth-edged leaves
sorghum - economically important Old World tropical cereal grass
2.kaffir - an offensive and insulting term for any Black African
derogation, disparagement, depreciation - a communication that belittles somebody or something
Republic of South Africa, South Africa - a republic at the southernmost part of Africa; achieved independence from the United Kingdom in 1910; first European settlers were Dutch (known as Boers)
Black African - an African who is Black


[ˈkæfəʳ] N (Kaffirs or Kaffir (pl)) (offensive) → cafre mf


n (also pej)Kaffer m
References in classic literature ?
Now he sprang up, huddling on his clothes and as he did so calling to the Kaffirs who slept beneath the wagons.
At last it was done--no easy task, for the numbed hands of the Kaffirs could scarcely loosen the frozen reims.
The White Man called a council of his Kaffir servants.
Here he kept a retinue of Kaffirs, who were literally his slaves; and hence he would sally, with enormous diamonds in his shirt and on his finger, in the convoy of a prize-fighter of heinous repute, who was not, however, by any means the worst element in the Rosenthall melange.
I don't mean the Kaffirs. I don't believe they ever get to bed at all--poor devils!
With all those Kaffirs about, however, it's ten to one on the whiskey, and a hundred to one against us if we go looking for it.
Rosenthall and Purvis were rushing about outside, cursing the Kaffirs and nagging at each other.
I was wrong, and I crept upon a Kaffir on all fours.
They allowed us to retire without firing a shot; and retire you may be sure we did, the Kaffirs flogging their teams in a fury of fear, and our precious corporal sullen but defiant.
Macalister was in the Kaffir market and often told them stories of the sudden fortunes that had been made in the great boom of a year or two back.