This is the definition of “Redskin,” per Dictionary.com:
It is not long for this world.
According to MTV.com reporter Brenna Ehrlich, Dictionary.com will change its definition of “Redskin” during the site’s next round of updates. Ehlrich spoke with the reference site’s content editor, Jane Solomon, who offered the following explanations.
“In our next update, we’re removing ‘often’ so the label just reads ‘Slang: Disparaging and Offensive.”
While one word seems arbitrary, in the world of lexicography it makes all the difference. By removing “often” the site officially delineates the word as offensive slang 100% of the time.
In discussing Dictionary.com’s decision, Solomon talked about the term’s etymology and its contextual evolution.
“In the 1760s, French colonists translated a Native American self-referential term into the French ‘peau rouge,’ which soon after was translated into the English term ‘redskin,’” she said. “In its early years, ‘redskin’ was used by Native American and white people alike, however its meaning has been loaded with the cultural context of the time. Historical uses of ‘redskin’ have been imbued with contempt and condescension, a fact that comes into play when considering whether or not ‘redskin’ is considered a slur.”
With the collective thought concerning racial sensitivities different in 2014 than it was in 1966 (the original publishing date of Dictionary.com’s source material), Solomon feels it is time to update the term’s definition.
“So, is ‘redskin’ considered a slur?” Solomon added. “Definitely. Dictionary.com is based on the Random House Dictionary, which was the first dictionary to include an offensive label on ‘redskin’ when originally published in 1966. The level of offense has risen over the last half century along with overall cultural sensitivity.”
From Peter King’s The MMQB not using the word, to the USTPO’s recent revocation of Washington’s trademark, Dictionary.com becomes the latest card to fall opposite of Daniel Snyder’s organization.