Antedating of "Racism"

Ben Zimmer bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Thu Feb 28 02:39:24 UTC 2013

On Wed, Feb 27, 2013 at 9:14 PM, Shapiro, Fred <fred.shapiro at> wrote:
> This is a remarkable antedating of "racism," posted by Evan Kirshenbaum on
> alt.usage.english.  Jesse, do you monitor alt.usage.english and send relevant
> information to the OED, or is there too much there to wade through?
> racism (OED 1926)
> 1902 _Proceedings of the Twentieth Annual Meeting of the Lake Mohonk
> Conference of the Friends of the Indian 1902_ (1903) 134 (Google Books)
> Col. R. H. PRATT. - ... Segregating any class or race of people apart from the
> rest of the people kills the progress of the segregated people or makes their
> growth very slow.  Association of races and classes is necessary in order to
> destroy racism and classism.

Ironic that Richard Henry Pratt should get the credit for earliest
known use of "racism," in defense of a policy toward Native Americans
that would today seem pretty darn racist.


Ben Zimmer

The American Dialect Society -

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