nigga

noun

nig·​ga ˈni-gə How to pronounce nigga (audio)
plural niggas also niggaz ˈni-gəz How to pronounce nigga (audio)
1
offensive; see usage paragraph below
used as a pronunciation spelling of nigger
2
sometimes offensive; see usage paragraph below
used by some Black people to refer to themselves or to another Black person in a neutral or positive way
Usage of Nigga

Nigga originated as a variant of the infamous racial slur nigger, reflecting one of its pronunciations, and for many people it is an equally offensive word. In the late 20th century, however, the two forms began to diverge in use among some African Americans, with nigga becoming the preferred term for neutral and positive self-referential uses. Despite their prevalence in hip-hop, a highly influential music and cultural movement of African American origin whose millions of fans now span the globe, these uses of nigga are themselves controversial and the use of nigga by a person who is not Black—in any context—is considered highly offensive.

Word History

First Known Use

1848, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of nigga was in 1848

Dictionary Entries Near nigga

Cite this Entry

“Nigga.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/nigga. Accessed 13 Jun. 2024.

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