The Collaborative International Dictionary
Zambo \Zam"bo\, n.; pl. Zambos. [See Sambo.] The child of a mulatto and a negro; also, the child of an Indian and a negro; colloquially or humorously, a negro; a sambo.
n. A person with African and Native American/indigenous heritage; Afro-Indian. n. (alternative spelling of Sambo English)
Zambo ( or ) or cafuzo are racial terms used in the Spanish and Portuguese Empires and occasionally today to identify individuals in the Americas who are of mixed African and Amerindian ancestry (the analogous English term, considered a slur, is sambo). Historically, the racial cross between African slaves and Amerindians was referred to as a "zambaggoa", then "zambo", then "sambo". In the United States, the word "sambo" is thought to refer to the racial cross between a black slave and a white person.
The meaning of the term "sambo" however is contested in North America, where other etymologies have been proposed. The word most likely originated from one of the Romance languages, or Latin and its direct descendants. The feminine word is zamba (not to be confused with the Argentine Zamba folk dance, although there is some relationship in the concept).
Under the casta system of Spanish colonial America, the term originally applied to the children of one African and one Amerindian parent, or the children of two zambo parents. During this period, a myriad of other terms denoted individuals of African/Amerindian ancestry in ratios smaller or greater than the 50:50 of zambos: cambujo (zambo/Amerindian mixture) for example. Today, zambo refers to all people with significant amounts of both African and Amerindian ancestry, though it is frequently considered pejorative.
Usage examples of "zambo".
The first is a gigantic Negro named Zambo, who is a black Hercules, as willing as any horse, and about as intelligent.
On the last evening he seems to have hid himself near the hut in which we were discussing our plans, and, being observed by our huge Negro Zambo, who is as faithful as a dog and has the hatred which all his race bear to the half-breeds, he was dragged out and carried into our presence.
Behind him, only a few yards in his rear, bounded the huge ebony figure of Zambo, our devoted Negro.
An instant afterwards Zambo rose, looked at the prostrate man, and then, waving his hand joyously to us, came running in our direction.
We realized that Zambo spoke the truth, and that it would be impossible for him to keep them.
Meanwhile, I can see that the Indians are still in their place, and I am sure that the faithful Zambo will be here presently to get my letter.
Whether Zambo can at last take these letters to the river, or whether I shall myself in some miraculous way carry them back with me, or, finally, whether some daring explorer, coming upon our tracks with the advantage, perhaps, of a perfected monoplane, should find this bundle of manuscript, in any case I can see that what I am writing is destined to immortality as a classic of true adventure.
What with the things we had ourselves brought up and those which Zambo had sent across on the rope, we were fairly well supplied.
How good it was when we were hailed by the voice of Zambo, and, going to the edge of the plateau, saw him sitting grinning at us upon the top of the opposite pinnacle.
Presently Zambo looked up, waved his hand, and turned to ascend the pinnacle.
I ordered Zambo, therefore, to come again in the evening, and I spent my miserable and lonely day in recording my own adventures of the night before.
These documents I threw to Zambo in the evening, and also my purse, which contained three English sovereigns.
When we reached the edge of the cliff I looked over and saw our good old black Zambo sitting smoking on a rock below us.
One great regret we had, and that was to leave our old camp behind us, not only for the sake of the stores which remained there, but even more because we were losing touch with Zambo, our link with the outside world.
Once more also we were able to communicate with Zambo, who had been terrified by the spectacle from afar of an avalanche of apes falling from the edge of the cliff.