coolie

/kooh"lee/, n. Offensive.
1. an unskilled laborer, esp. formerly in China and India.
2. an unskilled laborer employed cheaply, esp. one brought from Asia.
adj.
3. Informal. characteristic of or suitable for a coolie: working for coolie wages.
Also, cooly.
[1545-55; < Urdu kuli < Tamil kuli hire, hireling]

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▪ Asian labourer
      (from Hindi Kuli, an aboriginal tribal name, or from Tamil kuli, “wages”), in usually pejorative European usage, an unskilled labourer or porter usually in or from the Far East hired for low or subsistence wages.

      The so-called coolie trade began in the late 1840s as a response to the labour shortage brought on by the worldwide movement to abolish slavery. The majority of these contract labourers were shipped from China, especially from the southern ports of Amoy and Macao, to developing European colonial areas, such as Hawaii, Ceylon, Malaya, and the Caribbean.

      Most coolies became so by voluntary negotiation, though kidnapping, decoy, and fraud were occasionally involved. Western merchants conducted the trade. Conditions in the depots (barracoons), where the labourers were stored awaiting shipment, and on the vessels in which they sailed were cramped and inhumane, resulting in much sickness, misery, and death. Neither the Western governments nor the Chinese government made more than a haphazard attempt to correct the abuses; the Chinese government had issued a ban on all emigration, but officials did nothing to enforce it.

      By the late 19th century, free immigration began to supersede the coolie trade. The Chinese, Japanese, and Hindustani workers who came to Australia and California after the discovery of gold in these areas around 1850 were commonly regarded as coolies, but they were technically free immigrants, not contract labourers.

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

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  • Coolie No. 1 — (Hindi) Directed by David Dhawan Produced by Vashu Bhagnani Ramesh Sadhuram Taurani Written by Rumi Jaffery Kader Khan Starring …   Wikipedia

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  • Coolie — Coo lie, n. Same as {Cooly}. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • coolie — (ingl.; pronunc. [cúli]) m. Culi …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • coolie — → culi o culí …   Diccionario panhispánico de dudas

  • coolie — (n.) name given by Europeans to hired laborers in India and China, c.1600, from Hindi quli hired servant, probably from kuli, name of an aboriginal tribe or caste in Gujarat. The name was picked up by the Portuguese, who used it in southern India …   Etymology dictionary

  • coolie — /ingl. ˈkuːlɪ/ [vc. ingl., dall indostano kulī, n. di una popolazione indiana] s. m. inv. (in Estremo Oriente) servitore, portatore …   Sinonimi e Contrari. Terza edizione

  • coolie — ► NOUN (pl. coolies) 1) dated an unskilled native labourer in India, China, and some other Asian countries. 2) offensive a person from the Indian subcontinent or of Indian descent. ORIGIN from a Hindi word meaning day labourer …   English terms dictionary

  • coolie — [ko͞o′lē] n. [Hindi qulī, hired servant, prob. < kolī, name of a tribe or caste of Gujarat] 1. an unskilled native laborer, esp. formerly, in India, China, etc. 2. a person doing heavy labor for little pay …   English World dictionary

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