OT: Origin of "Coon", was Re: OT: baloney and cheese
|From:||Doug Dee <amateurlinguist@...>|
|Date:||Sunday, March 16, 2003, 15:53|
In a message dated 3/16/2003 4:07:24 AM Eastern Standard Time,
> It's not common, but the few times I've heard the word "coon", it's
> usually been referring to black people. I have no idea of the origin of
> this particular slur. But, most of the times when I have heard it was
> in a historical-type context, like a movie or book occurring before
> around the 1960's or so.
The Dictionary of American Regional English says that "coon" has (or at least
had) another meaning of "A person, fellow, esp[ecially] a rustic . . .
sometimes derog[atory]", with the first quotation coming from 1832. And the
Random House Historical Dictionary of American Slang records a meaning "a
man; fellow, esp. a sly or otherwise remarkable fellow" from the same period.
Conceivably, either of those meaning could have led to the racial slur. The
RHHDAS also says that the racial meaning was "undoubtedly popularized -- and
perhaps introduced" by a minstrel song published in the 1829-1834 period
containing the line "O Ole Zip Coon he is a larned skoler."