A derogatory term that in English usage refers to black children, or a caricature of them which is widely considered racist. The word is likely derived from the Portuguese pequenino (derived from pequeno, "little").

Pickaninny refers to oft-depicted physical stereotypes of young African slave or African American children: bulging eyes, unkempt hair, red lips and wide mouth into which they stuffed large slices of watermelon.

Today, use of the term by persons of any race in English speaking countries is seen as distasteful, though at one time it was used within African American families to refer to their children in an affectionate manner. Versions of the word are still used in some pidgin dialects, including Caribbean English, where it usually means "child" or "young'un"
Pickaninny (also, piccaninny): Before becoming the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson apologized for any offense caused by an article in which he sarcastically suggested that "the Queen has come to love the Commonwealth, partly because it supplies her with regular cheering crowds of flag-waving piccaninnies."
by PCone November 14, 2009
10 more definitions
Top Definition
an offensive, derogatory term for black children
by Anonymous April 29, 2003
A small black child, too young to be a productive picker in the cotton field.
"Look at that little pickaninny just standing there eating dirt".

by SteveOla April 07, 2008
A negro youth. Often seen running around WalMart at midnight on school nights.
A song about a pickaninny:

Mammy's little ninny loves shortnin shortnin!
Mammy's little ninny loves shortnin breat!

Mammy's little ninny loves shortnin shortnin!
Mammy's little ninny loves shortnin breat!

Sweep off the flo!
And make up the bet!

Cause Mammy's little ninny loves shortnin breat!

Mammy's little ninny loves shortnin shortnin!
Mammy's little ninny loves shortnin breat!

Mammy's little ninny loves shortnin shortnin!
Mammy's little ninny loves shortnin breat!
by Arlene T. May 15, 2007
A common, generally-accepted term used in former times to describe young black boys, who were so pictured and identified in some of the National Geographics magazines from the pre-Depression Era of the 1920's.
"A pickaninny and his daily collection of cotton from the fields of southern Alabama."
by jimmiedavurdmeister August 20, 2007
The picaninny (It is also spelled pickaninny and piccaninny) was the dominant racial caricature of Black children for most of this country's history. They were "child coons," miniature versions of Stepin Fetchit. Picaninnies had bulging eyes, unkempt hair, red lips, and wide mouths into which they stuffed huge slices of watermelon. They were themselves tasty morsels for alligators. They were routinely shown on postcards, posters, and other ephemera being chased or eaten. Picaninnies were portrayed as nameless, shiftless natural buffoons running from alligators and toward fried chicken.

Source: Dr. David Pilgrim, Professor of Sociology
Ferris State University
She was one of the blackest of her race; and her round, shining eyes, glittering as glass beads, moved with quick and restless glances over everything in the room. Her mouth half open with astonishment at the wonders of the new Mas'r's parlor, displayed a white and brilliant set of teeth. Her woolly hair was braided in sundry little tails, which stuck out in every direction. The expression of her face was an odd mixture of shrewdness and cunning, over which was oddly drawn, like a veil, an expression of the most doleful gravity and solemnity. She was dressed in a single filthy, ragged garment, made of bagging; and stood with her hands demurely folded in front of her. Altogether, there was something odd and goblin-like about her appearance -- something as Miss Ophelia afterwards said, "so heathenish..."
by Tom Winston April 04, 2005
Pickaninny was a brand name for watermelons in the late 50's and prior until the pc police made the trademark owner stop using the symbol. The logo featured a male niglet slurping on a slice of ripe, red watermelon with a big negro grin on his face.
"Pickaninny watermelons are de best"
by sodesnay January 31, 2010

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