Earlier variants (such as neger or negar) derive from the Spanish/Portuguese word negro, meaning "black", and probably also the French nègre, which has also been used pejoratively (but also positively as in Négritude), derived from negro (the ordinary French word for "black" being noir). Both negro and noir (and therefore also nègre and nigger) ultimately come from nigrum, the accusative form of the Latin word niger, meaning "black". The Italian word nero is also related.
In Colonial America, negars was used in 1619 by John Rolfe, describing slaves shipped to Virginia colony. Neger (sometimes spelled "neggar") also prevailed in northern New York under the Dutch and also in Philadelphia, in its Moravian and Pennsylvania Dutch communities. For example, the African Burial Ground in New York City was originally known as "Begraafplaats van de Neger" (Dutch phrase meaning "Cemetery of the negro" in English).
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