black, noun and & adjective

Origin:
EnglishShow more Special senses of general English.
A. noun
1. A relatively dark-skinned person, in any of the following senses (some of which are also in general English use):
a. A member of any of the darker-skinned peoples of South Africa. See also sense B 2. Cf. sense c.
1616 A. Childe in R. Raven-Hart Before Van Riebeeck (1967) 85The 17- 18- and 19th dayes wee mad way with ouar mene to remmedye and wattar ouar shepes and everey day expectinge ffreshe vetteles from the blackes to refreshe ouar mene butt they browte us nott aney.
1790 tr. of F. Le Vaillant’s Trav. I. 127In this place there are two separate baths, one for the blacks, and another for the whites.
1815 G. Barker Journal. 30 JulyBr P preached in the morning to about 70 blacks & Br W to about 60 whites, & in the afternoon it was reversed.
1852 A. Essex in A. Rabone Rec. of Pioneer Family (1966) 19I have no fear of either Hottentots or Kaffirs, and consequently no hatred towards them, but the pseudo-philanthropists and the self-righteous missionaries..have no sympathy to spare for the plundered, ruined, bereaved Colonists, because all their attention is taken up by the Blacks among whom it is questionable if they have done any good.
1915 D. Fairbridge Torch Bearer 73‘What blacks?’ he asked breathlessly. ‘Kaffirs or Hottentots?’
b. A dark-skinned person of African origin, belonging to a people whose home language is of the Sintu (or Bantu) group; historical, during the apartheid era, one classified as a ‘Black’ person; cf. African noun1 sense 1. See also black black (sense B 1 d), classify, non-black.
Note:
‘Black’ has replaced ‘African’ (see African noun1) as the (presently) most widely accepted term. In apartheid legislation, ‘Black’ was the last official racial designation applied to black African people, earlier terms being ‘Native’ (see Native noun sense 1) and ‘Bantu’ (see Bantu noun sense 1), each in turn being judged offensive because used in apartheid terminology. See also kaffir sense 2 b (derogatory and offensive). Cf. Asian, coloured, white.
1696 J. Ovington Voy. to Suratt 283This fair Country which the Blacks inhabit, is blest with a Soil as pregnant as the Days are pleasant.
1795 C.R. Hopson tr. of C.P. Thunberg’s Trav. I. 262If the mother is a Black or a Hottentot, but the father a Christian, who requires it to be baptized, it is baptized.
1819 G.J. Rogers in G.M. Theal Rec. of Cape Col. (1902) XII. 159No blacks to be suffered hereafter between the Fish river and a supposed line continued to the sea from where the Ghonap inclines towards the Fish River.
1824 W.J. Burchell Trav. II. 480Mattivi’s younger brother, Mahura whom I have before noticed as a young man of remarkably handsome countenance as a black.
1828 T. Philipps Philipps, 1820 Settler (1960) 337Chaka declares for universal dominion over the Blacks, hopes we will not assist the Kaffers.
1846 J.M. Bowker Speeches & Sel. (1864) 258I fear the blacks themselves will be left to cram that doctrine down the throats of our descendants with the bullet and the assegai.
1861 H. Rabone in A. Rabone Rec. of Pioneer Family (1966) 123I have not the slightest disgust to blacks, or browns, can touch them, nurse them, and get on very well with their race.
1871 J. McKay Reminisc. 1We for the first time saw veritable blacks in a state of nudity.
1880 Alice Times 16 Jan.Poor old Moirosi — hang it we are anti-black, but who could not admire that stubborn old dog?
1896 Star in J. Crwys-Williams S. Afr. Despatches (1989) 107The great majority were whites, the Sisters in charge of the kaffir ward only having had three blacks under their care.
1921 W.C. Scully Harrow 47‘Well’, he said, ‘the arming and employment of blacks in this war may be right, or it may be wrong.’
1941 C.W. De Kiewiet Hist. of S. Afr. 37The effects of that disturbance were seen in friction and war between whites and blacks, in internecine struggles between the tribes themselves.
1968 J. Lelyveld in Cole & Flaherty House of Bondage 18The men who work in that office are supposed to be expert at telling a white from a brown from a black.
1973 J. Meintjes Voortrekkers 16The name Kaffir is today offensive, but then it applied specifically to the blacks of the Eastern Cape, namely the ama-Xhosa nation.
1977 B.J. Vorster Letter to Voters (pamphlet)It is our policy that the Blacks should govern themselves, that the Coloureds and Asians should manage their own affairs and should be co-responsible for matters of mutual interest.
1980 C. Hermer Diary of Maria Tholo 159This term ‘kaffir’..was a derogatory one for a black person. It was replaced in South African usage by ‘native’, then ‘bantu’ and latterly ‘black’.
1980 Rand Daily Mail 17 Nov. 8Mr Bernstein was not in possession of the permit which non-blacks require to enter Soweto and other black areas.
1981 Flying Springbok Dec. 26South Africa is building houses for Blacks and Browns at the rate of 5000 a month.
1983 H. Oppenheimer in Rand Daily Mail 12 Oct. 11The advantages of coloured and Indian representation in Parliament are..to be bought at the cost of further alienation of the blacks.
c. A member of a people or group which was disadvantaged by apartheid laws, i.e. a member of any but the white group. Cf. sense a, and non-white noun.
Note:
Distinct from sense b above: see note at sense B 3.
1953 G. Magwaza in Drum Apr. 29I’ve tried a couple of collective nouns for the lot: Non-Europeans, non-whites and whatnot. I’m fed up with these negatives...I’m now toying with blacks and non-blacks.
1968 J. Mayet in Drum Sept. 8I sometimes get the weird sensation that to the Whites who sit in their offices dreaming up new gimmicks to harass us and deciding where they should kick us out of or into next, we Blacks are not even people.
1970 News/Check 10 July 8It is most significant that numbers of Coloured and Indian students are now beginning to identify with Africans — actually calling themselves ‘blacks’ and declaring that ‘black is beautiful’.
1973 Drum 22 May 63I am a Coloured...I am not Black and I don’t want to be included as a Black.
1973 Evening Post 14 July 1More and more ‘Blacks’ (Africans, Coloureds and Indians) are reaching the limits of their patience.
1977 J. Sikakane Window on Soweto 13In these areas moneyed Blacks composed of Africans, Indians, Chinese, Coloureds, Japanese, Malayans and Pakistanis built a famous beautiful township known as Sophiatown.
1986 P. Maylam Hist. of Afr. People 193Whereas Africanism had tended to exclude Indians and coloureds, the black consciousness movement was keen to incorporate them as blacks.
1988 S. Vollenhoven in Frontline Apr. 15My mother objected to being called black and insisted she was coloured.
1989 Reader’s Digest Illust. Hist. of S. Afr. 487Black, Person whose skin colour is not white. However, apartheid ideology refers only to Africans as ‘blacks’, and coloured, Indian and African people together as ‘non-whites’. This book uses mainly the first definition.
d. Special Combinations
black-on-black adjective, applied to violent or exploitive action seen as perpetrated by black people against black people; often in the phrase black-on-black violence; cf. white-on-black (see white noun sense 2 b).
Note:
See note at faction.
1986 Financial Mail 13 June 6Black-on-black violence erupts once again in Cape Town’s squatter camps.
1986 Rhodeo (Rhodes Univ.) Aug. 11The ideological impact of SABC television news coverage cannot be overestimated. Decontextualised scores of so-called ‘black-on-black’ violence and other ‘black aggression’ would seem to the average viewer to justify military and police intervention.
1987 A. Amaphixiphixi in Frontline Mar. 38Is it wrong to be exploited by whites and right when it is black-on-black exploitation?
1987 New Nation 5 Nov. 6The conflict has been passed off as another case of inter-tribal and ‘black-on-black violence’.
1988 Now Everyone Is Afraid (Catholic Inst. for Internat. Rel.) 67The state likes to use terms like ‘black-on-black violence’ or ‘faction fights’ to describe internal township conflict. Words like these are used to place the blame for the violence with the black community rather than the apartheid system.
1989 Reader’s Digest Illust. Hist. of S. Afr. 480A new and devastating form of killing that was primarily reserved for what became known as ‘black-on-black’ violence: the murder of alleged African collaborators.
1990 Sunday Times 1 Apr. 7Black-on-black incidents have also been reported. Black shoppers who defied the boycott were forced to eat detergent and steel wool.., residents claim.
1990 City Press 17 June 11The black-on-black violence..involves Inkatha, ANC, PAC and BCM members.
1990 Sash Vol.33 No.1, 19It will become generally known..that the conflict is not a matter simply of black on black violence or even simply of a UDF/Inkatha struggle for power but that there are many complicating factors.
2. Ostrich-farming. A long black feather from a cock ostrich, taken from the place where the wing joins the body. Also attributive. See also onderbaatjie. Cf. black butt.
c1881 A. Douglass Ostrich Farming 75The black and drab feathers..protect the quill feathers for the first four months of their growth.
c1881 A. Douglass Ostrich Farming 82The blacks and drabs should each be run into seven different lengths, with a bunch each of broken feathers, and one each of floss.
1896 R. Wallace Farming Indust. of Cape Col. 235‘Black’ is the long growth on the part of the wing near to the junction with the body of the male..and ‘drab’ is the corresponding growth on the female...Blacks were very irregular, and..rates on the average declined — long and medium, 10s. to 15s. per lb., and medium and medium short about 15 per cent.
1909 J.E. Duerden in Agric. Jrnl of Cape of G.H. XXXIV. 523Blacks..include the first and second rows of wing coverts of the cock, and also the feathers sometimes plucked from the upper borders of the humerus.
1911 O. Evans in S. Playne Cape Col. 55Two rows of blacks..act as guards over the prime whites.
B. adjective
1. Of or pertaining to dark-skinned people of African origin whose home languages belong to the Sintu (Bantu) group. Cf. African adjective1 sense 2 a.
a. Applied to a person or persons: belonging to a people whose language is of the Sintu (Bantu) group (cf. sense A 1 b).
1795 C.R. Hopson tr. of C.P. Thunberg’s Trav. I. 136A traveller who has not been provident enough to bring water with him, has no other resource..than strictly to examine, whether any black shepherds are to be found attending their master’s flocks in the neighbourhood.
1828 G. Barker Journal. 11 Nov.The fourth case, was for stealing, a black boy.
1837 J.E. Alexander Narr. of Voy. I. 333Even the little black urchins in the streets were calling out to one another,..‘There goes the Kaffir! shoot him dead!’
1847 J. Barrow Autobiog. Memoir 143A black boy and a smart Hottentot took charge of my horses.
1853 T. Shone Diary. 12 Jan.I see a black man flogged. He got 50 lashes.
1905 P. Gibbon Vrouw Grobelaar 85Ask an old wise Kafir, not a young one that has forgotten the wisdom of the black people and learned the foolishness only of the white.
1936 Williams & May I Am Black 149You know how we Zulus look with scorn upon the other black people of the land...Now I say to you that all the tribes of all the nations are but one people, the Black People.
1942 U. Krige Dream & Desert (1953) 119We white South Africans have no real confidence in ourselves, we’re afraid our black countrymen might use those weapons against us later.
1961 T.V. Bulpin White Whirlwind 304These fellows from the Cape are black or coloured, but the Matabele hate them, so they are in the same cart as us.
1969 A. Fugard Boesman & Lena 20Lena: It’s a hard life for us brown people hey. Boesman: He’s not brown people, he’s black people.
1970 N.D. Thebehali in Post 5 May 5When I call myself a Bantu, a White man is thrilled; and when I call myself a Black man, a White gets angry.
1975 S. Afr. Panorama Dec. 2Today Afrikaans is spoken by over five million white, Coloured, Asian and Black South Africans.
1986 E. Prov. Herald 10 Apr. 2The municipality fired 215 black workers at the hostel and employed coloured labourers in their place.
1991 Census 91 (Central Statistical Service) (pamphlet)‘Black language’ means any language of the Black population groups, e.g. North Sotho, Xhosa, Zulu, etc.
b. Of, pertaining to, intended for, or predominantly used by those whose home language is of the Sintu (Bantu) group.
1949 A.G. Barlow in Hansard 24 May 6462There is no one man who does not shiver in his shoes when he thinks of this great black problem we have in this country that may overwhelm us at any time.
1961 T. Matshikiza Choc. for my Wife 75That conversation took me back to Black South Africa where I had become used to, and grown to love, being called ‘black’ man.
1973 E. Prov. Herald 27 Mar. 1Many of those in the queue became angry and..Mr Percy T—, manager of Computicket, personally came out of the stadium to escort them to one of the ‘Black’ gates.
1975 S. Roberts Outside Life’s Feast 42‘I thought you were not allowed to use negative terms like non-white...I thought your radical-liberal boyfriend insisted on positive statements.’..‘Had I said a black cinema hall,..you would have asked me if the décor was black.’
1979 Sunday Times 10 June (Business Times) 29Knowledge of black languages and experience in instructional work and driving will be an advantage.
1980 Govt Gaz. Vol.182 No.7147, 5The performance of the functions of a messenger according to Black law in respect of the exercise of the judicial power of any person on whom such power has been conferred.
1982 Pretoria News 21 Sept. 14 (advt)Black Salespeople. Here is your chance to join the leaders in the black furniture trade.
c1985 C. Gardner in Eng. Academy Rev. Vol.3 82The phrase ‘the black experience’ is less common now than it was five or seven years ago, but it retains a great deal of pregnant and precise meaning.
1986 Grocott’s Mail 23 May 10The detention of people involved in the arena of black education is becoming the order of the day.
1988 G. Rathbone in Cape Times 8 Jan. (Suppl.) 8If one isn’t playing indigenous ‘black’ sounds, one generally has to play to a white audience, and vice versa.
1989 A. Donaldson in Style Aug. 98The industry, to put it mildly, is huge: Investment in black taxis is estimated at R3 000-million.
c. Of a town or area: in the v. phr. to go black, to be officially incorporated into a homeland.
1974 E. Prov. Herald 2 Aug.Peddie declared Black village...It was business as usual yesterday after an announcement..that the village would go Black from September.
1978 Weekend Post 28 Oct. 8The town went black in 1975, a year before Transkei’s independence.
d. As a distinguishing epithet in Special Combinations
black-belt nonce, an area or areas in which black townships are situated (see township sense 2 a); also attributive;
black black [black ‘dark skinned, of African origin, speaking one of the Sintu (Bantu) group of languages as home language’ (see sense a) + black ‘one who is not white’ (see sense A 1 c)], a dark-skinned person of African origin and whose home language belongs to the Sintu (Bantu) group; see also note at sense 3; African noun1 sense 1;
black danger, swart gevaar sense 1;
black market, the black consumer market; also attributive;
1968 Cole & Flaherty House of Bondage 61Rush-hour trains to the white suburbs are rarely more than three minutes apart. Similar trains to black-belt destinations lag as much as half an hour apart.
1987 D. Tutu Informant, Cape TownIsn’t 99 [-year leasehold] mainly for black blacks?
1988 N. Mathiane in Frontline Oct. 31When applying for overseas scholarships, the Indians get the bulk of the money because they are studying Masters and fancy degrees while the black-black is battling on a first degree maybe.
1969 M. Benson At Still Point 84You know, Miss Dawson, you liberals ought to worry about us Afrikaners. We are the ones faced with the black danger and UNO.
1986 Sunday Times 13 July (Business Times) 16 (advt)Black market toiletries...This means taking over a product group whose flagship is a generic name in the Black Market.
1990 A. Clarke in Frontline Sept. 26Was he trying to impress me that he was working around the clock?..Was it something to do with ‘black time’?
2. Of or for the various darker-skinned peoples of South Africa. Cf. brown adjective sense 3. See also sense A 1 a.
1841 B. Shaw Memorials 87I am happy, however, to state, that in my journey to Cape Town, and other places, I have held service where white and black people were mingled in the same congregation.
1854 R.J. Mullins Diary. 5On Tuesdays and Fridays the bishop has a ‘black’ school in the evenings, well attended. I heard an old Malay woman read a chapter of St. Luke in Dutch.
1953 G. Magwaza in Drum Nov. 51The whites would like to know how black people want to be called...They’re Africans, but this is not as inclusive as ‘black’ or ‘white.’ All black people are not Africans, just as all white people are not English!
3.
a. Of a person or persons from any of those groups which were historically disadvantaged by apartheid laws, i.e. from any but the white group; cf. non-white adjective sense 1. See also sense A 1 c.
Note:
This use of ‘black’, with its ideological connotations, is distinct from that in sense 2. Since the early 1970s it has been part of the philosophy of the Black Consciousness Movement (see Black Consciousness sense 2), emphasizing (as grounds for political solidarity) the common predicament of those who were discriminated against under apartheid; it has met with mixed responses from those whom it is used to describe.
1970 Daily News 9 JuneStudents at the University of Natal Medical School..have decided to call themselves ‘Black’ rather than ‘non-European’ students.
1970 E. Prov. Herald 4 Sept.Blacks — a term used more and more by non-Europeans, who hate the term ‘non-Whites’ and who are developing a ‘Black Power’ concept that they hope will unite Africans, Coloureds, Malays and Indians in a solid ‘Black’ front opposing White domination.
1972 Argus 10 Aug. 3The amendment..asked the council to reject Black consciousness as well as the term ‘Black’ and expressed the party’s association with the term Coloured.
1973 Survey of Race Rel. (S.A.I.R.R.) 25It is recognised that not all Coloured people and Asians — or indeed Africans — wish to be referred to as ‘Black’; but the consensus of opinion appears to be that this term is preferable to ‘Non-White’.
1973 Argus 16 June 4Why, for example, did the Coloured student call himself Black. ‘He is Black because he is positively not White,’ Mr Small said.
1987 Drum Apr. 44Hassan Mall..is South Africa’s first black judge.
1988 E. Bonelle in Black Enterprise Vol.13, 17I am a Coloured woman who prefers to be called Black simply because I identify with my ancestors and my granny, a Black woman, reared me.
1989 T. Botha in Style Dec. 161The Malays came, They saw. They were conquered...Children learn the Arabic of old, while old men greet you with the black handshake of the young.
1990 D. Beckett in Frontline Mar.Apr. 22I’ve heard that some coloured people like to be called ‘black’...I mean people who are classified ‘coloured’ but consider themselves ‘black’.
1990 R. Malan My Traitor’s Heart 182The court was so white, so Western, and Simon so black — or more truly, so African. The psychiatrist who ultimately testified in the Hammerman’s defense was also ‘black’, also a victim of apartheid — but he was Indian, not African, and as culturally alien from Simon as I was.
b. Pertaining to, intended for, or predominantly used by groups which were historically disadvantaged by apartheid laws, i.e. by all but the white group; non-white adjective sense 2.
1970 Minutes of Meeting. (Rhodes University S.R.C.) 3 MayAt a recent Student Body meeting the students of the Black section of the University of Natal voted to change the name of their institution from UNNE (University of Natal Non-European) to UNB (University of Natal Black Section).
1972 J. Scott in J. Crwys-Williams S. Afr. Despatches (1989) 407You..enter the station your end, then come back along the platform to the point where the black coaches end and the white ones begin. I’ll meet you there and we can talk about how the different races are finding one another.
1974 Cape Times 3 Jan. 8Is it my sense of humour that makes me think that ‘the Coloured people’, or Black South Africa on the whole, need not feel too bad about their incapacity.
1976 Cape Herald 6 July 4Double shifts up in Black schools. In one year double shift classes in Coloured schools increased by 140.
1978 J. Essop in Argus 23 Jan. 10I couldn’t go to the ‘black’ station via the ‘white’ entrance and had to go via Strand Street.
1979 E. Prov. Herald 21 Mar. 10The black coaches need to be recoupled so that they can arrive at the black sections of the stations at the journey’s respective ends.
1985 Platzky & Walker Surplus People 80The Act tried to encourage black people to think of themselves as ‘coloured’ and ‘Indian’ and ‘African’, rather than as blacks or workers or oppressed people who had many problems in common.
1988 T. Anders in Star 9 Aug. 5A local Indian businessman was recently given back the R100 he had paid for a..raffle ticket because the right-wing school management board decided it would not accept ‘black money’.
A member of any of the darker-skinned peoples of South Africa.
A dark-skinned person of African origin, belonging to a people whose home language is of the Sintu (or Bantu) group; historical, during the apartheid era, one classified as a ‘Black’ person;
A member of a people or group which was disadvantaged by apartheid laws, i.e. a member of any but the white group.
A long black feather from a cock ostrich, taken from the place where the wing joins the body. Also attributive.
Of or pertaining to dark-skinned people of African origin whose home languages belong to the Sintu (Bantu) group.
belonging to a people whose language is of the Sintu (Bantu) group (cf. A 1 b).
Of, pertaining to, intended for, or predominantly used by those whose home language is of the Sintu (Bantu) group.
to be officially incorporated into a homeland.
Of or for the various darker-skinned peoples of South Africa.
Of a person or persons from any of those groups which were historically disadvantaged by apartheid laws, i.e. from any but the white group;
Pertaining to, intended for, or predominantly used by groups which were historically disadvantaged by apartheid laws, i.e. by all but the white group; non-whiteadjective2.
Entry Navigation

Visualise Quotations

Quotation summary

Senses

16161991
16161915
16961983
19531989
17951991
19491989
19741978
19701990
19701988