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From octo- (eight) + -roon, alteration of ending of cuarterón (quadroon)


octoroon (plural octoroons)

  1. (dated, offensive) Someone having one-eighth black ancestry.
    • 1840, Richard Henry Dana, Jr., Two Years Before the Mast, ch. XIII:
      Yet the least drop of Spanish blood, if it be only of quadroon or octoroon, is sufficient to raise them from the rank of slaves, and entitle them to a suit of clothes—boots, hat, cloak, spurs, long knife, and all complete, though coarse and dirty as may be,—and to call themselves Españolos, and to hold property, if they can get any.
    • 1900, Chesnutt, Charles W., The House Behind the Cedars, ch. XVIII:
      There would have been no legal barrier to their union; there would have been no frightful menace to white supremacy in the marriage of the negro and the octoroon: the drop of dark blood bridged the chasm.
    • 1914, Chesterton, G. K., The Wisdom of Father Brown, ch. 9:
      I dare say he has some Italians with him, but our amiable friends are not Italians. They are octoroons and African half-bloods of various shades, but I fear we English think all foreigners are much the same so long as they are dark and dirty.
    • 1969, Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, New York: Bantam, 1971, Chapter 10, p. 50,[1]
      Grandmother Baxter was a quadroon or an octoroon, or in any case she was nearly white.
    • For more examples of usage of this term, see Citations:octoroon.

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