Old English Africanas (plural) "native or inhabitant of Africa," from Latin Africanus (adj.) "of Africa, African," from Africa (see Africa). Used of white residents of Africa from 1815. Used of black residents of the U.S. from 18c., when it especially meant "one brought from Africa" and sometimes was contrasted to native-born Negro. As an adjective by 1560s, "pertaining to Africa or Africans" (Old English had Africanisc); from 1722 as "of or pertaining to black Americans."
updated on November 19, 2016