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See also: co-on and ĉo-on



Clipping of raccoon.


  • (US) IPA(key): /kun/
  • (UK) IPA(key): /kuːn/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -uːn


coon (plural coons)

  1. (ethnic slur) A black person.
  2. (informal, chiefly Southern US) A raccoon.
    • 1865, Henry David Thoreau, Cape Cod, Chapter IX. "The Sea and the Desert", page 187.
      He also said that minks, muskrats, foxes, coons, and wild mice were found there, but no squirrels.
    • 1963 Sterling North, Rascal, Avon Books (softcover), p 100:
      How about a glen bong for you and your 'coon?
    • 1979, André Brink, A Dry White Season, Vintage, published 1998, page 149:
      ‘Listen, Mr Du Toit,’ he said at last, in an obvious effort to sound light-hearted. ‘Why go to all this trouble for the sake of a bloody coon?’
  3. (informal, South Africa) A member of a colorfully dressed dance troupe in Cape Town during New Year celebrations.
  4. (Southern US, ethnic slur) A coonass; a white Acadian French person who lives in the swamps.
  5. (US, dated) A sly fellow.
  6. (African-American Vernacular) A black person who "plays the coon"; that is, who plays the dated stereotype of a black fool for an audience, particularly including Caucasians.
    (The addition of quotations indicative of this usage is being sought:)
    • 2012, Mia Mask, Contemporary Black American Cinema : Race, Gender and Sexuality at the Movies, page 123:
      This is especially true when your audience has such high expectations of your playing the coon, and thus providing symbolic assurance that a darker people are contained in their assigned social "place" as "subpersons."

Derived terms


coon (third-person singular simple present coons, present participle cooning, simple past and past participle cooned)

  1. (Southern US, colloquial) To hunt raccoons.
  2. (climbing) To traverse by crawling, as a ledge.
  3. (Southern US, colloquial) To crawl while straddling, especially in crossing a creek.
    • a. 1917, Roger Martin, “The Parson Goes A-Fishing”, Outing, W. B. Holland, volume LXIX, page 216:
      There is a little ledge low on the face of the cliff, and by this with careful “cooning” one may reach a recession in the rock which makes a lovely arm chair.
    • 1957, The Arkansas Historical Quarterly, volume XVI, Arkansas Historical Association:
      2 o'clock we float up to Duvall's landing—high bluff, store house, and a few dwelling houses. Here the fleet stops. Now for a canter through the woods, cooning logs, and waiding sloughs. Slosh across a small prairie.
    • 1982, Edwin Van Syckle, “The River Pioneers”, in Early Days on Grays Harbor, Pacific Search Press, page 186:
      “Advertising” was one problem for frontier women. Another was having to “coon” across a fallen tree that had been felled and limbed to bridge a canyon or gully.
  4. (Georgia, colloquial) To fish by noodling, by feeling for large fish in underwater holes.
  5. (African-American Vernacular, of an African-American) To play the dated stereotype of a black fool for an audience, particularly including Caucasians.
    • 1994, Donald Bogle, Toms, Coons, Mulattoes, Mammies and Bucks, An Interpretive History of Blacks in American Films, page 234:
      Rather than cooning or tomming it up to please whites...the black comic characters joked or laughed or acted the fool with one another. Or sometimes they used humor combatively to outwit the white characters.
    • 1999, Nelson George, Elevating the Game: Black Men and Basketball, U of Nebraska Press, →ISBN, page 52:
      If any other forties figure paralleled this humorous, graceful man in appeal it was the dancer Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, who, like the Trotter, funneled his extraordinary physical gifts into mass entertainment for whites yet remarkably, considering the time, avoided cooning.
    • 2005, Kermit Ernest Campbell, “gettin’ our groove on”, rhetoric, language, and literacy for the hip hop generation, Wayne State University Press, →ISBN, page 80:
      From the classic toasts to the dirty dozens to the early blues50 and now to gangsta rap lyrics—why not consider it all just a bunch of niggers cooning for the white man’s delight and dollars?
    • 2006, A. Khaulid, The Great Book of Fire, Damon Hunter,, →ISBN, page 142:
      Then the warrior appeared, in a manner that was dead serious as a heart attack wearing a baseball cap. Then came the sidekick, a jet black madman dancing, and almost cooning out of the shadows that cancelled him.
  6. (Southern US, colloquial, dated) To steal.
    • 1940, John W. “Jack” Ganzhorn, I’ve Killed Men, Robert Hale Limited, page 58:
      Cooning water-melons [sic.] was a common custom, and young people would go out at night on such parties. To prevent any raids on our melon patch Grandfather set a trap alarm—which brought disaster.
    • 1948, John Donald Kingsley, The Antioch Review, volume VIII:
      He kept on buying and selling horses, he said, sometimes paying for them in bogus, and sometimes cooning them. It was true he helped Malcolm Burnham break into Fred Able’s store
    • 1968, Bill Adler, Jay David, editors, Growing Up Black, Morrow, page 200:
      In the summertime, at night, in addition to all the other things we did, some of us boys would slip out down the road, or across the pastures and go “cooning” watermelons.
    • 2006, Timothy M. Gay, Tris Speaker: The Rough-and-Tumble Life of a Baseball Legend, U of Nebraska Press, →ISBN, page 37:
      Tris and his gang loved to prowl around at night, “cooning melons,” as Speaker put it in a 1920 interview. By all accounts, young Master Speaker was a handful.


Derived terms


  • 2005, John R. Waldman, 100 Weird Ways to Catch Fish, Stackpole Books, →ISBN: