Ne·​gress ˈnē-grəs How to pronounce Negress (audio)
plural Negresses
dated, usually offensive
: a Black woman or girl
Usage of Negro and Negress

The terms Negro and, to a lesser extent, Negress were formerly in common use, but began to fall out of favor in the 1960s, and by the 1980s had largely been replaced in nonhistorical contexts by Black and African American. A few organizations continue to use Negro in their names, reflecting the historical preference for the term: the full name of the UNCF, a philanthropic education organization founded in the mid-20th century, is the United Negro College Fund, also called the United Fund; and the Negro League Baseball Museum, which documents the Black baseball leagues active largely between 1920 and the late 1940s, continues to carry the name used by those leagues. The use of Negro in these contexts and others like them is not regarded as offensive. Both Negro and Negress are sometimes used by Black people in self-reference, but use of either term by others is offensive.

Word History

First Known Use

1734, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of Negress was in 1734

Dictionary Entries Near Negress

Cite this Entry

“Negress.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 14 Apr. 2024.

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