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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,
yonjuuni@EARTHLINK.NET writes:

> 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." Doug


David Barrow <davidab@...>