Jim Crow

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From the minstrel show song Jump Jim Crow, written in 1828 by Thomas D. Rice, the originator of blackface performance.

Proper noun[edit]

Jim Crow

  1. (obsolete, derogatory, offensive, ethnic slur) A black man.
  2. (historical) Southern United States racist and especially segregationist policies in the late 1800s and early to mid 1900s, taken collectively.

Derived terms[edit]

See also[edit]


Jim Crow

  1. (military, historical) A World War II code name for patrols along the British coastline to intercept enemy aircraft, originally intended to warn of invasion in 1940.
    • 2008, Simon Muggleton, “The Battle of Britain Monument in London”:
      … flying cannon equipped Spitfires V’s mainly on ‘Jim Crow’ operations (operational Patrols along the home coastline intercepting any hostile aircraft and looking out for any invasion forces).
  2. (engineering) A double-action planing tool invented by Joseph Whitworth, in which the blade ‘jumps’ to face the other way on the back-stroke.
    • 1852, Charles Tomlinson (editor), Cyclopædia of Useful Arts, Mechanical and Chemical, Manufactures, Mining, and Engineering, volume 1, section xiv “Machinery Exhibited”, page cxliii:
      Two other machines exhibited by Whitworth… One was furnished with a reversing tool to plane both ways, and called, from its peculiar motion, a Jim Crow machine.
    • 1864, February 6, Once a Week, volume 10, article “Machine Tool-Makers”, page 188:
      He has considerably improved upon the planing machine, in his “Jim Crow” machine, so called because the cutter reverses itself and works both ways, and in fact adapts itself to any position to do its work.
    • 1872, August 2, The Building News and Engineering Journal, article “Railway Works at Longhedge”, volume 23, page 77:
      The “Jim Crow” machine, which is Whitworth's patent, was new to some of the visitors. … But with a “Jim Crow” a cut is obtained both ways.
  3. (rail transport) A tool for bending railway rails, by holding the rail with two arms and pushing a screw into the other side.
    • 1886, The Railway Engineer, volume 7, page 207:
      When rails have to be bent with a Jim Crow, as in setting stock or check-rails, or straightening a bent rail, they should always be heated first, or they are liable to crack, especially steel rails.
    • 1899, W. A. Smith, Railway Review, volume 39, page 16:
      It is placed on the rail pretty much as a jim-crow is set, and as the middle roll is turned it travels along on the rail, curving the rail as it moves.
    • 2013, Terry Pratchett, Raising Steam, Doubleday, →ISBN, pages 345–346:
      Quelling his nerves, Moist grabbed a jim crow and opened the trap door on to the roof of the guard's van, to the initial amazement of the grag who had been trying to force his way in.


Jim Crow (not comparable)

  1. Discriminatory against African Americans.
  2. Segregated between African Americans and Caucasians.
    A Jim Crow audience


Jim Crow (third-person singular simple present Jim Crows, present participle Jim Crowing, simple past and past participle Jim Crowed)

  1. To work towards legislation that incorporates a discriminatory caste system or racial segregation.