AskDefine | Define ofay

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The term first appeared in print in the early 20th century, and may be older still. At least two possible derivations point to the Atlantic slave trade and Nigeria. During the 17th through 19th centuries, European traders established coastal ports in present-day Nigeria for their increasing traffic in slaves destined for the Americas. Thus, "Ofay" might derive from the Ibibio word afia, which means "light-colored," and may have referred to European traders. "Ofay" might also come from the Yoruba word ofe, spoken in hopes of disappearing from danger such as that posed by European traders. Another likely source of the word is the French "au fait" (lit. "to the point"), a phrase commonly used in English, and sometimes facetiously used to describe a pompous person. Finally, the word may be Pig Latin for "foe."


  1. a white person.
    • 1997: Don DeLillo, Underworld:
      The rival, the foe, the ofay, veins stretched and bulged between white knuckles.


  1. white, white-skinned.
    • 1984: ‘Baby,’ April Elgar said, ‘you may be an uptight ofay milk-toast limey bastard, but you ain’t no fag.’ — Anthony Burgess, Enderby's Dark Lady


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