Green’s Dictionary of Slang

niggerhead n.1

[all fig. uses of nigger n.1 (1) + SE head; alleged resemblance]

1. (orig. and chiefly US, also negro head, nigger-foot, nigger twist) cheap, dark tobacco designed for smoking and chewing.

[US]W. Irving Hist. of N.Y. (1821) VI 255: He [...] thrust a prodigious quid of negro head tobacco into his left cheek.
[Aus]Sydney Gaz. 3 mar. 3/1: Her cargo comprises 3500 lbs of negrohead tobacco.
[UK]London Mag. Feb. 48/1: The paper cigars [...] are made of the best Virginian negro-head cut small, and rolled up in a diminutive piece of white paper, very thin.
J. Lumsden Amer. Memoranda 14: My next communication will probably contain full details of the methods adopted by the Virginian planters in the manufacturing of the nigger-head, ladies’-twist [DA].
[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 21 Mar. 2/6: -The Blue Parlour - Bottled Beer - Gin and Brandy Nobblers - Pipes - Negrohead and Mrs. Raffles' best Cigars.
[Aus]G.C. Mundy Our Antipodes I 326: Redolent of rum and ‘nigger-head.’.
[Ind]Delhi Sketch Bk 1 Sept. 55/2: It will [...] be conceed that nigger-head is not so very far from pig-tail.
[UK]Dickens Great Expectations (1992) 313: Loose tobacco of the kind that it is called negro-head.
G.T. Lloyd Thirty-three Years Tasmania and Victoria 125: Bodily enveloped in perfumed clouds from dudeens and nigger-head tobacco.
[US]V.C. Giles Rags and Hope in Lasswell (1961) 223: ‘Nigger-foot’ tobacco.
[UK]Sportsman 11 Nov. 2/1: Notes on News [...] A half-drunken sailor [...] with a few pounds of negrohead in the seat of his trousers.
[Aus]C. Money Knocking About in N.Z. 76: Luckily I had two or three pieces of ‘nigger-head’ tobacco (Barrett’s Twist) in my pocket.
[UK]Worcs. Chron. 3 July 4/1: The reason vy I chews / My niggerhead an’ cavendish / Is for to get their juice!
[US](con. c.1840) ‘Mark Twain’ Huckleberry Finn 182: You borry’d store tobacker and paid back nigger-head.
[Aus]H. Lawson ‘Possum’ in Roderick (1967–9) I 82: An’ learnt to sling colonial and like the bushman’s way / An’ it did us good ter see ’im smoke ’is ‘nigger’ in a clay.
[Aus]H. Nisbet ‘Bail Up!’ 103: Negro-head is not the best kind of tobacco to use while drinking port.
[US]Outing (N.Y.) XXIV 355/1: These [cigarettes] are made of native grown tobacco or the rank cheap stuff called nigger-head twist [DA].
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 25 Aug. 14/3: Some of the nigs. were first-rate shearers, averaging over 100 jumbucks a day [...], the pay at the end of the season being a jersey, pair of pants, half a pound of nigger twist, and a few pounds of flour.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 26 Sept. 13/2: The many take up dog-fighting, or croquet, or Christian Endeavor, or smoking niggerhead.
[Aus]Townsville Daily Bulletin (Qld) 24 Dec. 5/3: The main ingredients were blue-stone, nigger-twist, and sulphuric acid.
[US]Mencken Amer. Lang. Supplement I 528: In 1943 there was another [uproar] over the belated discovery that the American Tobacco Company was making a brand of tobacco called Nigger Head [DA].
[US]Maledicta III:2 170: nigger-headn [...] 3: Dark lump of tobacco or inferior rubber, from an alleged resemblance.

2. (US) any outcrop of dark, rough, rounded or lumpy rock, stones or boulders.

H. Howe Historical Colls. of Ohio 569: It was a saw mill, with a small pair of stones attached, made of boulders or ‘nigger heads,’ as they are commonly called .
Smithsonian Institute Reports II 523: Nigger head. (1) The black concretionary nodules found in granite; (2) Any hard, dark, colored rock weathering out with rounded nodules or bowlders; (3) Slaty rock associated with sandstone. A quarryman’s term .
[US]St Paul Dly Globe (MN) 7 Apr. 11/3: Hail storms with hail stones as large as goose eggs or prairie ‘nigger-heads’.
[US]J. London ‘Bald-face’ in Aegis (Oakland High School) 6 Sept. 1–2: At the bottom was a broad, open flat, quarter of a mile to timber and full of nigger-heads.
[US]J. London Smoke Bellew (1926) 227: The boundaries of the claim totalled nearly a mile, and most of it was over the uneven surface of a snow-covered, niggerhead flat.
E.N. Dick Dixie Frontier 4: Bears rolled ‘nigger head’ stones over and ate the grubs and field mice [DA].
[US]Maledicta III:2 170: nigger-head n [...] 11: Exceptionally hard rock.

3. any clump or hummock of thick vegetation, swamp grass, ferns, grass etc.

[US]Bartlett Dict. Americanisms (2nd edn) 292: Nigger Heads, the tussocks or knotted masses of the roots of sedges and ferns projecting above the wet surface of a swamp .
[US]Schele De Vere Americanisms 116: Niggerheads, again, are in the far South and Southwest the tussocks or tufts of grass and sedge standing out, of a swamp, and bearing a faint resemblance to the woolly head of an African.
A.E. Lee Hist. Columbus, Ohio I 274: Hummocks, called in the borough dialect ‘nigger-heads,’ formed by tufts of swamp grass [DA].
[US]S.E. White Arizona Nights 32: We tore off long bundles of the nigger-head blades, lit the resinous ends at our fire, and with these torches started to make our way.
[Aus]T. Wood Cobbers 87: Those niggerheads, now. You remember I pointed them out – those twisted black masses some of the trees have, at the fork.
J.H. Brown Outdoors Unlimited 314: The ptarmigan cackled in the manner of a Bronx cheer as it flew to a nearby nigger-head [DA].
[NZ]G. Slatter Pagan Game (1969) 20: The pukeko scuttling into raupo and niggerhead.
[US]Maledicta III:2 170: nigger-head n [...] 4: Dark mound of vegetation in far northern regions [...] 12: Knotted masses of roots projecting above a swamp’s surface.

4. (US) a dark raincloud.

J. London ‘Typhoon Off the Coast of Japan’ in Short Stories 3: A few light, fleecy ‘niggerheads’ [...] seemed abashed [...] and soon withdrew.
[US]DN IV 110: Nigger-head [...] Dark cumulous clouds close to the horizon.
[US] in DARE.

5. peaks of coral that jut above the surface of the sea.

[Aus]N. Pulliam I Travelled a Lonely Land (1957) 110: There’s constant danger from the dreaded ‘niggerheads’, tree-sized masses of stone-hard coral broken loose from the underground catacombs in times of storm.

6. an ox-eye daisy (with a large black centre).

[US]J.W. Carr ‘Words from Northwest Arkansas’ in DN III:ii 148: Ox-eye daisy, n. ‘Nigger-heads have a large black centre and yellow petals.’.

7. (US campus) hard black candy.

[US]Monroe & Northup ‘College Words and Phrases’ in DN II:iii 144: niggerhead, n. A kind of hard, black candy made in both spheres and flat pieces.

8. a piece of stone, a small boulder.

[US]St Paul Dly Globe (MN) 7 Apr. 10/3: Hail stones as large as goose eggs or prairie ‘nigger-heads’.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 15 Aug. 15/2: Then the selector sits him down on a charred niggerhead, and earnestly requests Providence to strike him in divers ways.
[US]C. Sandburg ‘The Has-Been’ Chicago Poems 18: A boy passes and throws a niggerhead that chips off the end of the nose from the stone face.

9. (US) a shoe-nailing machine.

[US] in A. Banks First-Person America (1980) 131: The old niggerhead* did prove practical (*A shoe-nailing machine, so named ‘because a man from Brazil invented it).

10. (US Und.) a type of round wall safe.

[US]E. Anderson Thieves Like Us (1999) 9: I hadn’t sacked up no more than two thousand out of that nigger-head.
[US]S. Morgan Homeboy 250: A niggerhead safe any moron could crack with a stethoscope.

11. (W.I.) a black person’s naturally kinky hair.

[WI]Allsopp Dict. Carib. Eng. Usage.

In compounds

niggerhead rum (n.)

(US) strong, dark rum.

[UK]Hall & Niles One Man’s War (1929) 293: Two bottles nigger-head rum, large size.
in Fife & Fife Ballads of West 227: Too much nigger-head rum [HDAS].