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n. pl. pick·a·nin·nies Offensive
Used as a disparaging term for a young black child.

[Of West Indian creole and African creole origin; akin to Jamaican Patwa picknie, Krio (English-based creole of Sierra Leone) pikin, and Tok Pisin pikinini, child, all from a Portuguese-based pidgin, from Portuguese pequenino, diminutive of pequeno, small, Spanish pequeñ:o and Italian piccino, small.]


n, pl -nies
a variant spelling (esp US) of piccaninny


or pic•a•nin•ny

(ˈpɪk əˌnɪn i)

n., pl. -nies.
usage: This term, though not usually used with disparaging intent, is perceived as highly insulting.
Older Use: Extremely Offensive. (a term used to refer to a black child.)
[1645–55; probably ultimately < Portuguese pequenino, diminutive of pequeno small; compare Jamaican Creole E pickney small child]
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.pickaninny - (ethnic slur) offensive term for a Black child
derogation, disparagement, depreciation - a communication that belittles somebody or something
ethnic slur - a slur on someone's race or language
Black person, blackamoor, Negro, Negroid, Black - a person with dark skin who comes from Africa (or whose ancestors came from Africa)
child, kid, minor, nipper, tiddler, youngster, tike, shaver, small fry, nestling, fry, tyke - a young person of either sex; "she writes books for children"; "they're just kids"; "`tiddler' is a British term for youngster"
References in periodicals archive ?
(7) The stories described by these examples are "Po Sandy," "The Conjurer's Revenge," "Tobe's Tribulations," "The Goophered Grapevine," "The Gray Wolf's Ha'nt," and "Sis' Becky's Pickanniny."
As many scholars have noted, the letters from Hurston to her "Godmother" (as Mason insisted on being called) are often the most painful to read, signed as they are by "your little pickanniny." To picture Hurston, an accomplished and by then middle-aged woman, referring to herself as "your black gal...scratching my nappy head" would be unthinkable today.
"What black people see as pickanniny hair, I saw as [saying,] |[Dorothy Tillman] always wears a hat, so who knows what her hair looks like - let's make it a mess.' It's a joke," Lenehan said.