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The Idiom Attic - a collection of hundreds of English idioms, each one explained.

The meaning of "uncle tom"

" Uncle Tom "
Meaning:
A derogatory term for a black man who is servile towards white men.
Example:
Randy never stands up for us blacks. In the old days we'd have called him an Uncle Tom - these days people call him a coconut (that is, brown on the outside but white on the inside).
Where did it originate?:
USA, 1920s. Derived from the name of the hero in the novel Uncle Tom's Cabin.
Where is it used?:
Worldwide, but most common in the USA.
Hear the idiom spoken:
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