Green’s Dictionary of Slang

dusky adj.

1. used to describe a black person, thus in n. use., a black person; also dusk, spec. describing an Indian.

[UK]‘Peter Corcoran’ ‘The Fields of Tothill’ in Fancy 62: Southey would put them into India quickly, / Make them amenable to wooden gods. [...] There’s something grand tho’ in Hindoo mythology, / Yet what to them or me is dusk Theology.
‘The Druid’ Post and Paddock 194: Back went the dusky owners, in a great state of dudgeon, to the hill-country.
[US]A. Bensell diary in Barth All Quiet on the Yamhill (1959) 5 June 158: All hands gone, even the dusky cooks.
[US]G. Ellington Women of N.Y. 207: They are patronized by members of the dusky race, and white men as well.
[NZ]Tuapeka Times (NZ) 3 Nov. 6/2: A dusky savage would absolutely laugh at the Anglo-Maori caricature of his forcible and expressive language.
[UK]B. Patterson Life in the Ranks 126: Nail wallahs are a class of dusky beings who make a living by cutting the [...] nails of any of the troops who elect to enlist their services.
[UK]C. Deveureux Venus in India I 11: No spark of desire [...] caused me for a moment to think that I could ever seek enjoyment in the embraces of any woman much less of a dusky maiden!
[Aus]Crowe Aus. Sl. Dict. 26: Duskey Cove, a black man.
[US] in W.B. Gatewood Jr Smoked Yankees (1971) 176: That effete style of ‘darkey,’ ‘culud gemmen,’ ‘dusky dame,’ [...] which all true men of this new age hope have died out with slavery.
[UK]John W. Parks ‘My Susie’ 🎵 Susie, ma dusky fairy / Coon queen with manners airy.
[UK]Sporting Times 25 Mar. 13/4: Especially among the Hottentots and Bastards, a generation has sprung up which shows all too plainly that the dusky husbands had far less to do with the matter than they should have had. The natural result is that these all too fair children are frequently nicknamed ‘Soldaat’ (soldier) or ‘Tommy’.
[Aus]Sun. Times (Perth) 17 Dec. 1/1: His lawful rib is a dusky made of the bush.
[NZ]‘A Cronk Camp’ Truth (Wellington) 19 Jan. 5: This Dusky Colored Cove put on a considerable amount of ‘dog’.
[Aus]Sun. Times (Perth) 17 July 2nd sect.10/1: Moyle is willing and eager to have another crack at the coon; but it looks as if the ‘Fremantle Tarpot’ is backing out of the mill, lt was generally expected by the dusky coves acquaintances that Johnson's defeat of Jeffries would have had an encouraging effect on Paddy [etc].
[UK]‘J.W.L.’ Slave Stories 67: When you come back, my dusky lad, I fit to give you five dollars, savvy?
[US]Noble Sissle ‘Mirandy’ 🎵 The dark-town duke of Jacksonville was a Jackson nicknamed Sandy, / This dusky duke from Jacksonville had a gal they called Mirandy.
[Aus]Register News-Pictorial (Adelaide) 13 Mar. 7/3: A dusky belle who had been stolen from Sambo some years before and whom he was eager to recover.
[Aus]Cairns Post (Qld) 26 Nov. 6/4: [headline] Dusky Inebriate [...] an aborgine charged with having been found drunk in Shields Street.
Afro-American (Baltimore, MD) 25 May 8/2: Eyes fixed [...] on a flock of duskies gyrating a hot number.
[Aus]Mercury (Hobart, Tas.) 1 Sept. 10/4: [dealing] Dusky Ally [...] This dusky native of New Guinea is typical of the boys who are giving the Allies valuable aid.
[Aus]Mail (Adelaide) 23 Jan. 7s/3: [picture caption] Dusky Little Islanders.
[Aus]C. Mann ‘Beulah’ Three Stories 39: [A] description of Beulah as ‘a dusky charmer’.
[UK]M. Novotny Kings Road 200: It’s those dusky gentlemen I’m worrried about.
[US]L. Kramer Faggots 251: That dusky dinge I diddled discreetly with in Doubleday’s Non-Fiction.
[US](con. 1920s) F.M. Davis Livin’ the Blues 53: I sat in the midst of white spectators, as usual the only Duskyamerican.
[US]W. Ellis Crooked Little Vein 142: You [...] have known the dusky terrorist pleasure of a Sand Gook woman.

2. (Aus.) in fig. use, surreptitious.

[Aus]Truth (Sydney) 1 Jan. 8/3: That were just to keep it dusky, / (Which were easey [sic], don’t you see), / And likewise were profitable.