piccanin

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English[edit]

Etymology[edit]

Portuguese: pequeno: small + ino (diminutive suffex).

Noun[edit]

piccanin (plural piccanins)

  1. (South African) (derogatory, ethnic slur) A small (usually black) child; a tot; a toddler.
    • 1964. Credo Vusa'mazulu Mutwa: Indaba, My Children. This edition 1999. Grove Press ISBN 0802136044 Page 667.
The piccanin stands at the gate. There are tears in his eyes and hunger in his belly. He is puzzled and scared by what he saw happening the previous night in the place he knows as home. His mother and father had quarreled and he had been awakened by the noise. He had seen his father hit his mother with the ‘thing-that-chops-wood’ and he had seen his mother fall.

Usage notes[edit]

The word is commonly used in Australia, where it is not pejorative.