Kaffir - do you use this word?

audiolaik

Senior Member
Polish
Hello,

When leafing through a dictionary, I came across the word Kaffir. I looked it up, and I found out that it is used as an offensive term for any Black African (source).

Are you familiar with the word in question? Is it in widespread use among BrE and AmE speakers?

Thank you!
 
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  • Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    Like JamesM, I have never heard it. I know it only from having read older British novels. As I understood it to be offensive, I would never use it.
     

    Wilma_Sweden

    Senior Member
    Swedish (Scania)
    Are you familiar with the word in question? Is it in widespread use among BrE and AmE speakers?
    I've heard about it, a friend of mine told me that it was mainly used in South Africa, so probably not very widespread in the US/UK.

    I agree with the Longman dictionary: Do Not Use It!
    "Kaffir: taboo a very offensive word for a black person, used by white people in South Africa. Do not use this word"

    /Wilma
     

    Aserolf

    Senior Member
    Español - México
    I have heard this word in African theme movies and I know is very offensive for black Africans.
    I particularly remember The Color of Friendship, a Disney movie where I first heard this word.
     

    journeys

    Senior Member
    English (Jamaica)
    Definitely a pejorative expression mainly used in South Africa (not sure if it's still current).
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    I've just consulted a South African who's staying with me.

    She says it's the South African equivalent of nigger. Not acceptable in the present-day "Rainbow Nation".
    ________

    EDIT: oh, and to answer your question, audio: no, I've never used it, and can't imagine a situation in which I might.
     
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    panjandrum

    Occasional Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    I use kaffir from time to time, and come across it written and spoken ...
    ... in a completely different context.
    From Wiki:
    The kaffir lime (Citrus hystrix DC., Rutaceae), also known as kieffer lime and limau purut is a type of lime native to Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand, commonly used in Southeast Asian cuisine, and widely grown worldwide as a backyard shrub.
    The kaffir lime is a rough, bumpy green fruit that grows on very thorny bush with aromatic and distinctively shaped "double" leaves. It is well suited to container growing. The green lime fruit is distinguished by its bumpy exterior and its small size (approx. 4 cm wide).
    I know this is not the meaning that audio has asked about, but it is a meaning that is in routine current usage, apparently without any sense of the connection with the other usage.
     

    ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    There's a pidgin language (formerly?) spoken in South Africa, called Fanakalo, which used to be called (back in colonial days) Kitchen Kaffir, a name indicative of something-or-other.
    I know the term but have never used it. Apart from being offensive, it would be pretty pointless using it in the UK, I reckon.
     

    cuchuflete

    Senior Member
    EEUU-inglés
    I know it from books and movies about South Africa in the bad old days. I've never heard it spoken by any AE or BE speaker other than in movies.
     

    audiolaik

    Senior Member
    Polish
    taboo a very offensive word for a black person, used by white people in South Africa."

    /Wilma
    I've just consulted a South African who's staying with me.

    She says it's the South African equivalent of nigger.
    As far as I remember, the word nigger is sometimes used by black people in reference to other "blacks", and then it's not considered offensive. Is it the same with kaffir?
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    As far as I remember, the word nigger is sometimes used by black people in reference to other "blacks", and then it's not considered offensive. Is it the same with kaffir?
    My informant tells me that kaffir is not used by black South Africans.
     
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