[Ads-l] cotton-pickin(g)

dave at WILTON.NET dave at WILTON.NET
Thu Apr 15 17:58:52 UTC 2021

The latest I have, written a few years ago is here: https://www.wordorigins.org/big-list-entries/cotton-picking-cotton-picker

It dates as a literal, racialized epithet (a demeaning term for an enslaved person who actually picks cotton) from the mid-19th century. There is a 1919 citation for as a general term of abuse, and it becomes common around 1930.

-----Original Message-----
From: American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU> On Behalf Of Pete Morris
Sent: Wednesday, April 14, 2021 10:11 PM
Subject: [ADS-L] cotton-pickin(g)

What is currently known about the origin of Cotton-pickin(g) as a term?

Etymology Online says:


as a deprecatory term first recorded in a Bugs Bunny cartoon, but a similar noun cotton-picker meaning "contemptible person" dates to around 1919, perhaps with racist overtones that have faded over the years. 
Before mechanization, cotton picking was the most difficult labor on a plantation.

I've seen the Bugs Bunny claim all over the internet. The specific cartoon isn't identified.

But I've found two examples from 20+ years before Bugs. Is this an antedating?



"You cotton-pickin chicken stealer " he howls.

Short story : Cutey and The Beast
The American Magazine
May 1917



"You cotton-pickin', stump-jumpin', ridge-runnin', moon- shiner"

Article: Hoo's Hoo Column and Hoo said it.
History of Company A : 307th Engineer Regiment.

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