(redirected from coolies)
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus.


, cooly
1. a cheaply hired unskilled Oriental labourer
2. Derogatory an Indian living in South Africa



a term used to designate low-paid, unskilled workers (including porters, stevedores, manual laborers, rickshaw-boys, and day laborers) in China (prior to 1949), India, and other countries of eastern and southeastern Asia. The name was also used for unskilled workers who signed contracts to work in America, South Africa, and Australia. The workers included Chinese, Indians, Malays, and Negroes, who performed the hardest jobs on plantations and in mines. The institution of contracted coolies arose during the 1830’s and 1840’s, after the abolition of slavery in the British, Dutch, and French colonies, and it grew considerably during the second half of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th.

References in periodicals archive ?
Blacks as luggage coolies for whites - and in our country.
We have provided them with horses and coolies and guides.
They come in 200 colors, 794 color combinations (depending on the imprint and the koozie color chosen) and are made from the 1/8-inch foam that make these coolies so functional, yet fun.
5) Keith Windschuttle's recent The White Australia Policy (2004) described opposition to coolie labour before 1854 as rooted in the campaigns against transportation and slavery; characterising coolies as 'inferior and servile' rested on 'a clear legal and economic basis' rather than on racial prejudice.
It was not the catastrophic relegation, nor the Maharajah's wages paid to coolies - it was the employing of too many staff.
Con: You're one Dustin Brown spin move away from wearing a couple of $15 coolies all over your Levis.
As with any major event there are a huge number of coolies, mostly on the minimum wage, grafting away in the background to put the show on the road.
Perhaps one of the most interesting parts in Lye's work is her careful delineation and departure from normative orientalist projections for "America's Asia" since through her well selected sources, she points out how the Asian representation in "American popular culture displaced the usual binary opposition between Oriental despot and Asiatic coolies.
Coolies and cane; race, labor, and sugar in the age of emancipation.
Coolies Of The Caribbean Part Two aims to tell the story of the forced migration of over a million Indians to the Caribbean and other parts of the British Empire, tracing their epic voyage across the seas.
A hold that was designed to carry slaves will serve just as well to carry coolies and convicts.