Coon’s age means a very long time. It is an Americanism that has fallen out of favor and is considered offensive by many people. Coon is slang for raccoon, coined in the mid-1700s. The term coon’s age was first used in the early 1800s and in fact, owes its origin to the folk belief that raccoons are long-lived. But let’s break it down so you know how to use it within your writing.
What’s the Origin of Coon’s Age?
The derogatory idiom is an Americanism recorded in 1843, which was a variant of the expression, a crow’s age. There’s no exact answer to how long is a coon’s age since it only means a very long time.
Coon is short-term for raccoon. There’s a folk belief that these animals are not long-lived.Later on, coon became a term for a white person. But because of the raccoon’s bandit-like appearance with its mask, it later became a racist slur for a black person. Looking back, they were strange times, and things were more culturally acceptable regardless of how offensive they could be.
Insulting songs, films and artworks were created, such as the coon caricature. The coon was seen as inarticulate, lazy, and frightened compared to Sambo, the perpetual child.
Enslavers untruthfully described enslaved people as “slow” and “trifling.” Saying they wanted to do minimal labor while avoiding punishment despite working from dusk to dawn. Supporters of slavery also deemed black people as “unequipped for freedom” because of their “laziness”.
Coon’s Age Synonym
When considering using slang or slurs such as this when writing, it’s essential to understand its origin and ensure you’re using it in the most respectful and representative way possible. But, if you’re not certain, then consider using something else. Here are some phrases you can say instead of in a coon’s age to avoid any correlation with the apparent slur.
- A long while.
- Blue moon.
Coon’s Age in a Sentence
You may meet friends you haven’t seen in a coon’s age. (Lake City News and Post)
To answer your question, I haven’t seen kids playing marbles in a coon’s age. (Houston Chronicle)
The chief reason Bryson William’s off night was not a problem was because Kevin McCullar and Terrence Shannon, simultaneously healthy for the first time in a coon’s age, more than picked up the slack. (247 Sports)
Coon’s Age Slur
Coon’s age is an idiom that you should avoid saying because it’s an offensive expression. The first word of the phrase is an informal slang for raccoon, intended to show contempt for Black people.
In the End
In a coon’s time is a derogatory idiom that should be avoided at all costs. The expression’s once innocent origin dates back to 1800s films and artworks that portray the coon as subhuman and lazy.
Coon became an offensive slur that embodies stereotypes placed on Black people. In my professional opinion, only use this phrase if you’re writing about something from that period or on the topic that relates to it.
Historical and cultural changes affect the meaning of words in English expression. So be very mindful when you communicate with other people in writing or conversation! Get more ideas for other idioms like Achilles heel or a chip off the old block to improve your writing!