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Etymology 1

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From red +‎ skin.

References to indigenous Americans' skin being red can be found from the 1580s,[1] although not consistently (another European in 1584 described indigenous Americans as "yellowish");[2] in some cases the reference may be not to their skin color per se but to their painting themselves with red paint.[3] A letter ostensibly from 1699, which was formerly cited as the earliest reference to "red skins", was not published until 1900 and is now recognized as fake.[4]

The earliest documented instance of the term "redskin" is from a 1769 discussion between the Piankeshaw and John Wilkins,[5] this and other early uses appear to be translating terms meaning red + skin, flesh, or people that the tribes of the Illinois / Mississippi Valley area used to refer to themselves when communicating with the French (who translated such terms French peau-rouge) and with English-speakers (whence redskin).[6][7][4]

Piecewise doublet of Rauðskinna.

Alternative forms

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Noun

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redskin (plural redskins)

  1. (now sometimes considered an ethnic slur and offensive) A Native American.
Usage notes
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Previously used neutrally, the word began to be used as a term of contempt in the late 1800s; it is now often considered offensive.

Synonyms
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Derived terms
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Translations
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See also

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References

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  1. ^ Douglas Harper (2001–2024) “redskin”, in Online Etymology Dictionary.
  2. ^ Alden T. Vaughan, Roots of American Racism: Essays on the Colonial Experience (1995), page 15, referring to Arthur Barlowe's 1584 account of the North American (North Carolinian) coast and its inhabitants, which says "they are of colour yellowish".
  3. ^ redskin”, in Collins English Dictionary.
  4. 4.0 4.1 David Skinner, "The Real History of the Word Redskin", 18 December 2013, in Slate
  5. ^ Lakshmi Gandhi, "Are You Ready For Some Controversy? The History Of 'Redskin'", September 9, 2013, for NPR
  6. ^ redskin”, in Dictionary.com Unabridged, Dictionary.com, LLC, 1995–present.
  7. ^ redskin”, in Lexico, Dictionary.com; Oxford University Press, 2019–2022.

Further reading

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  • redskin”, in OneLook Dictionary Search.

Etymology 2

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red +‎ skin, from skinhead.

Noun

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redskin (plural redskins)

  1. (anarchism, communism) An anticapitalist skinhead.
    The Red & Anarchist Skinheads, a left‐wing splinter of the SHARP group, formed in 1993. It grew out of influences from the redskin culture in England.

Anagrams

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