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.
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.