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Fri, 10.17.1997

The NAACP Request Merriam-Webster Dictionary to Revise Your Definition of “Nigger”

On this date in 1997, The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) called for a formal dictionary revision of the word “nigger.”

The NAACP publicly requested Merriam-Webster to revise its dictionary definition of the word. The Merriam-Webster dictionary's 9th and 10th editions (as well as online) define the word as “a black person... usually taken to be offensive.”  (then) NAACP President Kweisi Mfume said that the definition “doesn't say, Once used to describe a black person, a slur.’ It says, A black person.”

He said, “The NAACP finds it objectionable that the Merriam-Webster would use black people as a definition for a racist term.”

The Merriam-Webster dictionary now defines "nigger" this way, in part, as "a black person, usually offensive. . . . a member of any dark-skinned race; a member of a socially disadvantaged class of persons.  It now ranks as perhaps the most offensive and inflammatory racial slur in English."

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