coloured, participial adjective and & noun

Also (frequently) with initial capital, and (formerly) colored.
English, South African EnglishShow more Special senses of general English coloured (of or pertaining to) a dark-skinned person entirely or partially of black African descent, a meaning no longer current in South African English.
Since the late 1970s used often in inverted commas, or in the phrase so-called coloured, indicating the speaker or writer’s disapproval of ethnic classification.
A. participial adjective Of a person or group.
a. Of mixed ethnic origin, including Khoisan, African slave, Malay, Chinese, white, and other descent; of or pertaining to such a person or group; brown adjective sense 2; Eurafrican adjective.
The word has been used for over one and a half centuries, and numerous Acts have entrenched its use. However the Population Registration Act of 1950 made this term an official ethnic label in terms of the law (see next sense).
1829 W. Shaw Diary. 20 Sept.I was much gratified with every part of the arrangements, excepting that the poor black and coloured children appeared to me, to be too lightly esteemed, though forming an interesting and important part of the Institution.
1833 W. Shaw in B. Shaw Memorials (1841) 233The original now used as a school-house, and also as a place of worship for the black and coloured population, for whose benefit it is requisite to hold separate services, as they do not generally understand the English language.
1844 J. Macgilchrist Cape of G.H. 20The native population of the colony is generally called Hottentot, or bastard Hottentot, most of the coloured people approaching pretty nearly to the Hottentot formation, and some presenting a greater or smaller mixture of other, principally European blood.
1859 Cape Town Weekly Mag. 21 Jan. 14During a severe storm experienced on Friday afternoon, in the neighbourhood of Burghersdorp, a coloured man, by name of Jan Hopely, was struck dead by lightening.
1871 J. McKay Reminisc. 291Our Kafir and coloured populations stand in the ratio of three to every one white (Dutch and British) and it therefore becomes us to legislate on our coloured population by procuring work for them, and thereby enriching the colony.
1892 The Jrnl 14 Jan. 2The criminals are for the most part Coloured or Native men.
[1898 Cape Argus (Weekly ed.) 2 Feb. 40The ‘cullud’ lady..had a dispute with a former mistress.]
1909 R.H. Brand Union of S. Afr. 97A ‘Coloured Man’ is not a Kafir. He is a person of mixed white and black blood.
1923 Act 21 in Stat. of Union 140Act to provide..for the exemption of coloured persons from the operation of pass laws.
1923 Act 21 in Stat. of Union 189‘Coloured person’ means any person of mixed European and native descent and shall include all persons belonging to the class called Cape Malays.
1934 A.J. Barnouw Lang. & Race Problems 28By ‘colored people’ the South African means half-castes. They form 48 per cent of the population of Capetown, and their native language is Afrikaans.
1949 E. Hellmann Handbk on Race Rel. 348The commission on the Cape Coloured population of the Union offered the following definition of a Coloured person: ‘a person living in the Union of South Africa who does not belong to one of its aboriginal races, but in whom the presence of Coloured blood (especially due to descent from Non-Europeans brought to the Cape in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries or from aboriginal Hottentot stock, and with or without an admixture of white or Bantu blood), can be established.’
1956 N. Gordimer in D. Wright S. Afr. Stories (1960) 71He had accompanied Jake to a shebeen in a coloured location.
1980 C. Hermer Diary of Maria Tholo 198The official designation of the Western Cape as a ‘coloured’ preference area persists.
1990 R. Gool Cape Town Coolie 90The very last franchise is the Coloured Vote and the Cape Municipal Franchise.
1990 Sash Vol.33 No.1 May 21Gang warfare in the so-called ‘coloured’ areas has become an uncontrollable problem in East London.
1990 J. McClurg in Star 11 Sept. 11‘Coloured’ now tends to be avoided as a designation for those of mixed blood, yet no satisfactory substitute has been found for it. And, praiseworthy though the effort to get rid of racial designations is, we have to resort to them sometimes for the sake of clarity.
1992 J. Pearce in South 27 Feb. 4A new organisation aims to keep the coloured flag flying because it believes the coloureds are being marginalised.
b. historical. During the apartheid era: classified as a ‘coloured’ according to the provisions of the Population Registration Act; of or pertaining to such a person or group. See also Cape Coloured participial adjectival phrase, classify, other coloured participial adjectival phrase.
1950 Act 30 in Stat. of Union 277‘Coloured person’ means a person who is not a white person or a native.
1952 P. Abrahams in Drum July 11He had known a Coloured man who had been white nearly all his life, who had fought in the last war as a white officer, who had had a world of white friends — and then became a Coloured man quite suddenly.
1953 Off. Yr Bk of Union No. 26, 1950 (Bureau of Census & Statistics) 1157The population is divided for census purposes into four racial groups as follows:..(4) Mixed and other coloured — this group consists chiefly of Cape coloured, but includes also Cape Malays, Bushmen, Hottentots, and all persons of mixed race. For consideration of space the name of this group is usually concentrated to ‘coloured’.
1968 J. Lelyveld in Cole & Flaherty House of Bondage 18I once met a man who carried both an African reference book and a Colored identity card so he could be African or Colored as the mood took him.
1970 A. Sparks in Daily Dispatch 10 Dec. 16The Coloured group, as defined in our Population Registration Act, is a pretty variegated community. In fact it includes everybody who is neither White nor African.
1979 Cape Times 20 Dec. 12[He] was an outstanding representative of the generation of intellectual and political leaders of the so-called coloured community.
1982 Reader’s Digest Family Guide to Law 744The State President has not declared any group of blacks to be a separate declared group, but has separated Indian, Chinese and Malay groups from the coloured group.
1983 R. Rive in Best of S. Afr. Short Stories (1991) 315To get in (sc. into the club) you mustn’t only be so-called coloured, you must also be not too so-called coloured. You must have the right complexion, the right sort of hair, the right address and speak the right sort of Walmer Estate or Wynberg English.
1990 R. Gool Cape Town Coolie 31Her arms were plump and peach-coloured — was she European?..Broad cheekbones distinguished her as Coloured.
1990 S. Makgabotlane in Tribute 120When Stella’s birth certificate arrives, she discovers she has been classified ‘coloured’ (an offspring of mixed heritage), although her mother was ‘white’.
1990 S. Gray in Staffrider Vol.9 No.1, 50I said I would not phone the Harbour Cafe, the famous tourist restaurant on the Cape Town waterfront, either to make a booking or confirm if I could bring my so-called coloured friend along.
B. noun , plural -s, or unchanged. a. A person of mixed black (or brown) and white descent who speaks either English or Afrikaans as home language; Afrikander noun sense 2; brown noun sense 1; Eurafrican noun; Hottentot noun sense 4 a; kleurling noun sense 1 (often derogatory); person of colour, see colour sense 2. See also Bastard noun sense 1. b. historical. One ‘classified’ as coloured in terms of the Population Registration Act. See also Cape Coloured noun phrase, other coloured noun phrase.
1949 J.S. Franklin This Union 196There are nearly a million Coloureds in the Union, and but for the European they would not be there.
1953 Drum Oct. 45Athlone and Elsies River, which are earmarked for Coloureds are..too small to absorb the present Coloured population of the Peninsula.
1968 J. Lelyveld in Cole & Flaherty House of Bondage 18At one end of this spectrum many Coloreds pass as whites. At the other many Africans pass as Coloreds.
1970 E. Prov. Herald 4 Sept.Coloureds — those residents (two million officially, but perhaps three million in fact) who have White-Black parentage somewhere on the family tree, the mixture generally dating back to an illicit liaison between a White farm owner and his Black female serfs.
1979 Sunday Post 3 July 7According to an announcement in Parliament this week, 150 ‘coloureds’ became ‘white’ in 1978. Seems a bit of a desperate way to get back on the voters’ roll.
1986 A. Klaaste in Frontline June 5Many is the black person, endowed with a lightish complexion, who declared himself or herself a ‘coloured’ and went for the precious coloured identity document.
1988 Daily Dispatch 23 Feb. 17He said that in 1984 alone, 795 South Africans were reclassified. Whites became Chinese, Africans became coloureds, and coloureds became whites. ‘In this House we have a pure Egyptian classified coloured’.
1990 R. Stengel January Sun 40Since ‘light-skinned’ Coloured were virtually impossible to differentiate from Afrikaners, the Population Registration Act of 1950 emphasized association and ancestry as the principal ways of establishing who was white.
1991 F.G. Butler Local Habitation 199Until Fugard’s Blood Knot (1969) actors and producers could present so-called coloureds only as comic carnival coons or parodies of whites, not as people.
1992 J. Contreras in Newsweek 20 July 33The movement (sc. the ANC) was not ‘making much progress’ among whites or the country’s other two minorities, Indians and mixed-race Coloreds.
Of mixed ethnic origin, including Khoisan, African slave, Malay, Chinese, white, and other descent; of or pertaining to such a person or group; brownadjective2; Eurafricanadjective.
During the apartheid era: classified as a ‘coloured’ according to the provisions of the Population Registration Act; of or pertaining to such a person or group. See also Cape Colouredparticipial adjectival phrase, classify, other colouredparticipial adjectival phrase.
A person of mixed black (or brown) and white descent who speaks either English or Afrikaans as home language; Afrikandernoun2; brownnoun1; Eurafricannoun; Hottentotnoun4 a; kleurlingnoun1 (often derogatory); person of colour, see colour2.
One ‘classified’ as coloured in terms of the Population Registration Act.
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