Green’s Dictionary of Slang

darkie n.

also darkey, darky
[coined in the UK, the term has spread to all English-language slangs, denoting Afro-Americans, Aborigines, Maoris and others]

1. a derog., patronizing description of a black person; also used ironically by blacks as a self-description.

[US] in F. Moore Songs and Ballads of the Amer. Revolution (1855) 100: The women ran, the darkeys too; and all the bells, they tolled.
[US]N.M. Ludlow in Hudson Humor of the Old Deep South (1936) 249: The darkey smiled and nodded, yes.
[US]N.Y. Times 9 Jan. 3/1: [A watchman,] hearing a bit of a shindy at a house occupied by a couple of ‘darkies,’ [entered, and] found both husband and wife pretty well ‘how come you so’.
[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 13 Dec. 2/6: The little darky, having recently returned frorn Woolloomooloo, [...] intended to pursue his avocation of ‘barber’.
[US]D. Corcoran Pickings from N.O. Picayune 68: If dancing darkies have their trials of skill, why should not boot-polishing darkies have theirs? [...] ‘Shut up, darkey!’ said one of the peace officers.
[UK]Swell’s Night Guide 63: Her name was Sal Black, but she often lookd blue – / As lovely a darky as ever was seen; / And though Black and blue, she ne’er was found green.
[UK]Sam Sly 13 Jan. 1/2: Just behind the latter is another ‘darky,’ to whom a girl, who rejoices in the nickname of Lucy Long, is paying the most unmistakeable and indelicate attentions.
N. Hawthorne House of Seven Gables 149: ‘No matter, darkey!’ said the carpenter.
[UK]F. Smedley Lewis Arundel 340: This gal was a nigger – reg’lar darkie – Black-hide Susan, Tom used to call her.
[UK]G.J. Whyte-Melville Digby Grand (1890) 76: This darky’s getting troublesome, come and put him out.
[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 17 Sept. 2/6: [black to black] Cum my darkey, and let’s hab a ball.
[US] letter in Silber & Sievens Yankee Correspondence (1996) 66: There are any amount of darkies coming into camp here every day.
[UK]J.C. Parkinson Places and People 30: They treat ’em shameful, just because they’re darkies.
[US]W.H. Thomes Slaver’s Adventures 162: Some rum was brought on deck, and when the steward placed it in the old darky’s hand, the eyes of the latter sparkled with joy.
Newton Wkly Ledger (MS) 16 Jan. 2/2: A negro [...] succeeded in killing an Ohio darkey named Julius Wade.
[UK]Dundee Courier (Scot.) 30 June 7/5: She swears she’ll be revenged on you for ‘shicing’ her and taking up with a darkey.
[US]G.E. Hasie [song title] Ise a Happy Laughin Darkey.
[Aus]‘Rolf Boldrewood’ Robbery Under Arms (1922) 108: Starlight’s been took, and the darkie with him.
[UK]J. Astley Fifty Years (2nd edn) II 30: It was a real genuine display of boxing, and ended in the victory of the darky.
[UK]H. Nevinson ‘Sissero’s Return’ in Keating Working Class Stories of the 1890s (1971) 64: They kep’ worryin’ and goin’ on at Ginger, askin’ what price a Darkey.
[US]Ade Pink Marsh (1963) 146: Do n’ like to be called dahkies neetheh. It use to be Et’op’ans, but now it’s Af’o-Ameh’cans.
[Aus]Sydney Sportsman (Surry Hills, NSW) 22 May 2/4: The darkie brough blood from the Armidale man’s nose.
[US]‘Billy Burgundy’ Toothsome Tales Told in Sl. 53: The darky wandered forth.
[NZ]N.Z. Truth 26 Jan. 6/4: Some of these darkies [...] have been getting round the girls.
[US]James Weldon Johnson Autobiog. of an Ex-Coloured Man (1927) 167: Log-cabins and plantations and dialect-speaking ‘darkies’ are perhaps better known in American literature than any other single picture of our national life.
[UK]A. Brazil Madcap of the School 251: [T]hey had decided during the performance of ‘The Darkies’ Frolic’ to dance a lively kind of combined fox-trot and cake-walk measure to illustrate the words.
[US]F.S. Fitzgerald ‘The Diamond as Big as the Ritz’ in Bodley Head Scott Fitzgerald V (1963) 54: His coloured following — darkies who had never realized that slavery was abolished.
[US]G.S. Schuyler Yellow Peril in Hatch & Hamalian Lost Plays of Harlem Renaissance (1996) 51: If that darky just brings that fur coat, I’ll knock ’em dead. Put on airs with me, will they? I’ll make all the dickties look like ragbags.
[US]C. McKay Home to Harlem 5: He would rather hear ‘nigger’ than ‘darky,’ for he knew that when a Yankee said ‘nigger’ he meant hatred for Negroes, whereas when he said ‘darky’ he meant friendly contempt.
[US](con. 1920s) J.T. Farrell Judgement Day in Studs Lonigan (1936) 545: They’re so much like darkies. Not the fresh northern niggers, but the genuine real southern darkies, the good niggers.
[US]L. Hughes Mulatto in Three Negro Plays (1969) Act I: A darkie’s got to keep in his place down here.
[Aus]X. Herbert Capricornia (1939) 374: Use y’left, Darkey, use y’left!
[US]H. Miller Sexus (1969) 96: The darkie would appear with a tray, serving mint juleps.
[US]J. Blake letter 23 Sept. in Joint (1972) 91: She spoke of the halcyon days of her girlhood on the plantation [...] Banjos strummin’, darkies a-hummin’.
[Aus]D. Niland Big Smoke 169: The nicest little filly I ever forked was a darky.
[UK]C. MacInnes Absolute Beginners 199: ‘We sore yer,’ said an oafo. ‘Darkie-luvver,’ said another.
[Ire](con. 1940s) B. Behan Confessions 89: There was this Negro boy [...] Darkie as we familiarly and ignorantly called him.
[US]T. Southern Blue Movie (1974) 69: Daddy’s a very distinguished southern gentleman, mint julep on the veranda, watching the happy darkies bring in the crop.
[Aus]K. Gilbert Cherry Pickers III ii: [spoken by Aborigine] Well, ya ain’t gonna be able to afford to buy it this season, darky boy.
[UK]T. Wilkinson Down and Out 93: ‘That’s your fucking darkie for you,’ [...] He was looking directly at the black man.
[US]D. Pinckney High Cotton (1993) 6: He was, to me, just a poor old darky.
[US]T. Udo Vatican Bloodbath 44: ‘Jolly nice to meet you,’ said some darky in a bloody psychedelic dress.
[US]‘Touré’ Portable Promised Land (ms.) 41: Ain’t gonna intradeuce me to the gal, darkie?
[SA]Mail and Guardian (S.Afr.) 21 Dec.–3 Jan. 20: ‘Darkies are consumers,’ says Lermoto Motsoeneng, a young executive.
[UK]J. Niven Kill Your Friends (2009) 4: Run downstairs and tell security to get that fucking great darkie off my car.
[US](con. 1973) C. Stella Johnny Porno 302: Guy’s a bleeding heart faggot when it comes to the darkies.
[SA]Mail & Guardian On Line (SA) 5 Nov. [Internet] In Mpumalanga he managed and owned the Dangerous Darkies football team.
[US]P. Beatty Sellout (2016) 281: The nefarious darkies have all the kids in Niggertown hooked up to IVs.

2. a derog. term of address to a black person.

[Aus]W.M. Howell Diggings and the Bush 34: Now then, darkies,’ cried Miss Coles.
[UK]Illus. Police News 31 Dec. 11/2: The prisoner [’a black man’]: Didn’t you say to me, ‘Hullo, Darkie!’ the first night we met?

3. (UK Und.) a beggar who feigns blindness.

[UK](con. 1840s–50s) H. Mayhew London Labour and London Poor IV 432/2: There was all manner of ‘lays;’ yes, cripples and darkies. We called them as did the blind dodge, darkies.

4. a dark-skinned person, e.g. a Latino.

[UK]Leicester Chron. 23 Apr. 9/2: The man we called the Spaniard [or] ‘darkey’ [...] whose ‘hot blood’ might break out [...] at the slightest provocation.
[US](con. 1970) J.M. Del Vecchio 13th Valley (1983) 465: If she wants to marry a darkie (he’s not black, just dark) that’s her business.

5. in pl., a collective term for a variety of late-night music-halls and bars on or near the Strand, London, usu. situated below ground level, e.g. the Shades, the Cider Cellars and the Coal Hole.

[UK]Daily Tel. 20 Nov. in Ware (1909) 104/2: The days of The Cider Cellars, and The Shades, called in slang terms ‘The Darkies’ and ‘ The Coal Holes’, and the low music-halls with their abominable songs, and the Haymarket orgies and the dancing saloons disappeared.

6. a person with dark hair.

[UK]J. Curtis You’re in the Racket, Too 210: Not that he cared much for darkies. Give him blondies every time.

In compounds

In phrases

choke a darkie (v.) (also sink..., strangle...) [SE choke + pun on SE dark + sfx -y/darkie n.]

(Aus.) to defecate.

[Aus]B. Humphries Barry McKenzie [comic strip] in Complete Barry McKenzie (1988) 22: Actually . . . like, . . . er . . . I was desirous to choke a darkie. [Ibid.] 48: Jeez! I haven’t strangled a darkie since I got off the boat.
[Aus] ‘Whisper All Aussie Dict.’ in Kings Cross Whisper (Sydney) xl 4/5: sink a darkie: To go to the toilet.
[Aus]R. Aven-Bray Ridgey-Didge Oz Jack Lang 14: He was not even slightly concerned so he stalled out to the brasco on the pretext that he had to give a swimming lesson to a darkie.
[NZ]McGill Dict. of Kiwi Sl. 27/1: choke a darkie to defecate.
[Aus]G. Seal Lingo 88: Bodily functions do not escape the Lingo. Defecation may be unappealingly described as giving birth to a copper (a policeman), or choking a darkie.
[NZ]McGill Reed Dict. of N.Z. Sl. [as cit. 1988].
K. Spratley Provincial Spy 63: ‘You’re sure you're not going to choke a darkie?’ ‘No, strictly straining the potatoes. I choked a darkie just after sparrow's fart’ .