From Hindustani क़ुली / قلی (qulī), which means "hired laborer" or "slave", from Turkish köle. Other forms occur in Bengali kuli and Tamil kuli, "daily hire." The Mandarin word 苦力 (kǔlì), meaning "to exert one's abilities; heavy labour work" in Classical Chinese, may have been influenced by cognates of the above Hindi word in other languages and may have further influenced English.
coolie (plural coolies)
- (offensive, slang) An unskilled Asian worker, usually of Chinese or Indian descent; a labourer; a porter. Coolies were frequently transported to other countries in the 19th and early 20th centuries as indentured labourers.
- (offensive, slang, Trinidad, West Indies, Guyana and parts of Africa) A person of Indian descent.
- Yule, Henry and Burnell, A. C. (1886): Hobson-Jobson The Anglo-Indian Dictionary. Reprint: Ware, Hertfordshire. Wordsworth Editions Limited. 1996.
- Le grand dictionnaire Ricci de la langue chinoise, (2001), Vol. III, p. 833.