Words: niggardly, adj.

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The Independent Culture
NO SOONER have we wondered whether Monty Python's US tour will contain the 1974 character Mrs Niggerbaiter than comes a report that the new mayor of Washington, David Howard, has resigned because he referred to a fund as being niggardly. Those in earshot were offended, others telephoned to protest - all of them ignorant, unlike Mr Howard. Samuel Johnson noted that it is derived from the Icelandic ninggr, a miser, and cites Shakespeare and Sidney ("so sluttish a vice"). The OED, more cautious in its etymology (obscure), offers such meanings as narrow and a false bottom.

Nigger is another, complex matter, and Mr Howard's fate reminds us that Orwell's Politics and the English Language was his most prescient writing.

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