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Is the phrase 'in a coon's age' a racial remark?

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Cannikin Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-08-05 02:38 PM
Original message
Is the phrase 'in a coon's age' a racial remark?
My grandparents and other older Arkansans say it often. "I havent seen you in a coons age."

I've never understood it fully.
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billyskank Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-08-05 02:40 PM
Response to Original message
1. In that context, I cannot guess
Its meaning is quite opaque to me. :shrug:
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jeff30997 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-08-05 02:48 PM
Response to Original message
2. Maybe it's short for raccoons ?
:shrug:
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WCGreen Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-08-05 02:48 PM
Response to Original message
3. It's in reference to racoons and how long they live.....
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Cannikin Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-08-05 02:49 PM
Response to Original message
4. Thats what I was hoping.
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JimmyJazz Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-08-05 02:51 PM
Response to Original message
5. Score one for the racoons!
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Cannikin Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-08-05 02:54 PM
Response to Reply #5
6. Thanks! You're so resourceful
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JimmyJazz Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-08-05 02:57 PM
Response to Reply #6
7. Gee, thanks.
No one has said that about in, well, in a coon's age. :crazy:
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Jackpine Radical Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-08-05 10:11 PM
Response to Reply #5
15. Wow, and I used to think
"straight dope" referred to a heterosexual dunce.
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In_The_Wind Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-08-05 02:58 PM
Response to Original message
8. It's All About The Raccoons ...
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TallahasseeGrannie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-08-05 04:50 PM
Response to Original message
9. No, and either is
niggardly. Though it sounds bad.
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Cult Donating Member (242 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-08-05 06:04 PM
Response to Reply #9
10. Yikes.
There's a word I'll never say, regardless of what it means.
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miss_kitty Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-08-05 06:24 PM
Response to Original message
11. It's raccoons
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timtom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-08-05 07:36 PM
Response to Original message
12. As long as we're at it,
can anyone clarify the term, "coon-ass"? I know that it is peculiar to Louisiana (may she heal and prosper long) and it does not seem to carry the same stigma of similar terms probably would in other parts of the South.
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Kat45 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-08-05 07:49 PM
Response to Original message
13. My boyfriend in college used to use that phrase
He's the only person I've ever heard use it. I think he got it from his father. I'd assumed it related to raccoons.
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SeattleGirl Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-08-05 07:50 PM
Response to Original message
14. My grandparents in Arkansas always said that too.
It's not racist; "coon" means racoon.
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Cannikin Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-08-05 11:36 PM
Response to Reply #14
16. I'm in Arkansas. I guess its a local thing
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ForrestGump Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Oct-09-05 05:09 AM
Response to Original message
17. Coons? When we had problems with
raccoons gettin' on the porch, Mama'd just chase 'em off with a broom.
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AccessGranted Donating Member (687 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Oct-09-05 08:41 AM
Response to Original message
18. Here is a "Google-ization" of the Phrase....Hmmmmmmm
Re: "In a coon's age"

---------------------------------------------------------------------
Posted by ESC on July 08, 2000
In Reply to: "In a coon's age" posted by George Mason on July 07, 2000

: I'm trying to find the origin of the phrase "in a coon's age." Help!

: Thanks...

"Coon's age" is short for raccoon's age. I don't know if raccoons are especially long-lived. The expression is similar to these other sayings from the southern U.S.:
I haven't seen you in donkey years.
I haven't seen you since Hector was a pup.

"A COON'S AGE - Meaning 'a very long time,' a coon's age is an Americanism recorded in 1843 and probably related to the old English expression 'in a crow's age,' meaning the same. The American term is an improvement, if only because the raccoon usually lives longer -- up to 13 years in the wild - than the crow." From the "Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins" by Robert Hendrickson (Facts on File, New York, 1997), Page 168.

More on the use of "coon" based on an observation of the animal and its habits:
" 'COON or COON: 1. N. raccoon (Procyon lotor.) 'coon skins.2. v.t. to steal. 'I had to coon an ace of hearts'.3. v.i., to creep like a coon, clinging close. 'I cooned acrost on a log." From "Smoky Mountain Voices: A Lexicon of Southern Appalachian Speech" by Harold F. Farwell, Jr., and J. Karl Nicholas, editors. (The University of Kentucky Press, Lexington, Ky., 1993), Page 45. This book is based on a lifetime of work by Horace Kephart among the people who lived in or near the Great Smoky Mountains in North Carolina.

As you may know, the "coon" came to mean a whole different thing unrelated to expression "in a coon's age." Coon was first a term for a white person from the country, then it became an insulting term for a black person. "A coon's age" was recorded in 1843 (but I am sure it was in use decades earlier) but the word "coon" didn't become a racial slur until 20 years later. Here's an entry on that:

"coon was orignally a short form for raccoon in 1741.then by 1832 meant a frontier rustic, and by 1840 a Whig. The 1834 song 'Zip Coon' (better know today as 'Turkey in the Straw') didn't refer specifically to either a White or a Black and the 'coon songs' of the 1840s and 50s were Whig political songs. By 1862, however, coon had come to mean a Black and this use was made very common by the popular 1896 song 'All Coons Look Alike to Me,' written by Ernest Hogan, a Black who didn't consider the word derogatory at the time." From "I Hear America Talking" by Stuart Berg Flexner (Von Nostrand Reinhold Co., New York, 1976), Page 54.
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