Origin of zebra
From American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition
- While the word was traditionally pronounced with a long initial vowel in standard English, during the twentieth century a vowel shift occurred in regions of England, with the adoption of an initial short vowel. This pronunciation is now used throughout the UK and Commonwealth. The long vowel pronunciation remains standard in American English.
- (biracial person): The term zebra, as used in its pejorative sense, was popularized on the television situation comedy The Jeffersons. The term was used by the series protagonist, George Jefferson (Sherman Hemsley), to express disdain for his daughter-in-law, Jenny Willis Jefferson, whose father was white and mother was black.