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See also: chinaman



From Chinese Pidgin English. Calque of Chinese 中國人中国人 (Zhōngguórén) ("China +‎ -man"). Applied also to ships by analogy with East Indiaman.


  • IPA(key): /ˈt͡ʃaɪnəmən/, /ˈt͡ʃaɪnəmɪn/


Chinaman (plural Chinamen)

  1. (dated, now offensive) A person of Chinese or other East Asian descent.
    • 1870–1871 (date written), Mark Twain [pseudonym; Samuel Langhorne Clemens], Roughing It, Hartford, Conn.: American Publishing Company [et al.], published 1872, →OCLC:
      A disorderly Chinaman is rare, and a lazy one does not exist. So long as a Chinaman has strength to use his hands he needs no support from anybody; white men often complain of want of work, but a Chinaman offers no such complaint; he always manages to find something to do. [] Any white man can swear a Chinaman’s life away in the courts, but no Chinaman can testify against a white man.
    • 1906, Hubert D. Russell, editor, Complete Story of the San Francisco Horror, 1906, published 2003, page 251:
      Another favorite pastime of the Highbinder who is usually a loafer, is to levy blackmail on a wealthy Chinaman. [] If it were not that the Chinamen kill only men of their own race and let alone all other men, the citizens of San Francisco would have sacked and burned Chinatown.
    • 1907, Barbara Baynton, edited by Sally Krimmer and Alan Lawson, Human Toll (Portable Australian Authors: Barbara Baynton), St Lucia: University of Queensland Press, published 1980, page 147:
      On the flat behind the mill, dawn-rising Chinamen shogged with nimble bare feet under their yoke-linked watering-cans. These busy brethren, meeting sometimes on the same narrow track, would pause, ant-like, seemingly to dumbly regard one another and their burdens, then, still ant-like, pass silently to their work.
    • 1913, Sax Rohmer, chapter 25, in The Insidious Dr. Fu Manchu:
      "It is my fly-trap!" shrieked the Chinaman. "And I am the god of destruction!"
    • 1920 August 27, Katherine Mansfield [pseudonym; Kathleen Mansfield Murry], “The Wind Blows”, in Bliss and Other Stories, London: Constable & Company, published 1920, →OCLC, page 137:
      The carts rattle by, swinging from side to side; two Chinamen lollop along under their wooden yokes with the straining vegetable baskets—their pigtails and blue blouses fly out in the wind.
    • 1941, George Ade, Stories of the Streets and of the Town: From the Chicago Record 1893 - 1900, reprinted as 2003, Stories of Chicago, page 163,
      In Clark Street, where all the nations of the earth dwell together in harmony, one has but to go downstairs to find a Chinaman. And when found he is washing.
    • 1956, Allen Ginsberg, “America”, in Howl and Other Poems (Pocket Poets Series), City Lights Books, →OCLC, page 33:
      America it's them bad Russians.
      Them Russians them Russians and them Chinamen. And them Russians.
  2. A sailing ship of the 18th and 19th centuries engaged in the Old China Trade
  3. (US, slang, obsolete, offensive) Addiction from a narcotic, especially heroin. [from 20th c.]
    • 1952 November 5, William S. Burroughs, “To Allen Ginsberg”, in Oliver Harris, editor, The Letters of William S. Burroughs, 1945–1959, New York: Penguin, published 1993, →ISBN, page 140:
      Chinaman half in and half out of the door. Codeine and goof balls, and complete discouragement.
  4. Synonym of Chinaperson, a Chinese person of either gender.

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