nigger

This most offensive of words in American speech dates to the late 16th century, although the modern spelling doesn’t appear until some two centuries later. The modern word nigger is a variant of an older term, neger, pronounced with a long /ee/ sound, which is still in use in Caribbean dialect. It comes from the French nègre, in use to mean a black person since at least 1516, and ultimately from the Latin niger, meaning black. The word negro comes from the same Latin root, although the route negro took into English was via Spanish, not French.

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