List of ethnic slurs by ethnicity  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

This list of ethnic slurs by ethnicity compiles ethnic slurs that are, or have been, used in the English language. For the purposes of this list, ethnicity can be defined by either race, nationality or ethnicity.

Contents

Broader ethnic categories

African descent

Ann 
A white woman to a black person – or a black woman who acts too much like a white one. While Miss Ann, also just plain Ann, is a derisive reference to the white woman, by extension it is applied to any black woman who puts on airs and tries to act like Miss Ann.<ref name="Hugh Rawson 1989 p. 19">Hugh Rawson, Wicked Words, (1989) p. 19.</ref>
Ape 
(U.S.) a black person.<ref>Spears, loc. cit. p. 10.; also, Zoo Ape or Jungle Ape</ref>
Aunt Jemima / Aunt Jane / Aunt Mary / Aunt Sally / Aunt Thomasina 
(U.S. Blacks) a black woman who "kisses up" to whites, a "sellout," female counterpart of Uncle Tom.<ref>Green, loc. cit. p. 36.</ref> Taken from the popular syrup of the same name, where "Aunt Jemima" is represented as a black woman. Spears, op. cit. p. 118.</ref>
Bluegum 
An offensive slur used by some United States white Southerners for an African-American perceived as being lazy and who refuses to work.<ref>"Operation Blue Gum" for Barack Obama Gets the Chainsaw—"The Australian" Hedley Thomas--20 March 2010:</ref>
Boogie 
a black person (film noire) "The boogies lowered the boom on Beaver Canal".<ref name="No Way Out (film) 1950">No Way Out (film) 1950 Sidny Poitier and Richard Widmark</ref>
Buffie 
a black person.<ref name="Spears, loc. cit. p. 118">Spears, loc. cit. p. 118</ref>
Burrhead / Burr-head / Burr head 
(U.S.) a black person (referencing stereotypical hair type). <ref>"Saturday Night Live transcript, Season 1, Episode 7"</ref>
Colored 
(U.S.) a Black person. Once generally accepted as inoffensive, this word is now considered disrespectful by some. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People continues to use its full name unapologetically. Some black Americans have reclaimed this word and softened it in the expression "a person of color."
Coon 
(U.S. & U.K) a black person. Possibly from Portuguese barracoos, a building constructed to hold slaves for sale. (1837).<ref>Online Etymology Dictionary: Coon</ref>
Crow 
a black person,<ref>"crow." Webster's [Accessed 12 March 2006].</ref> spec. a black woman.
Eggplant 
a black person. In the 1979 classic film, "The Jerk", the leading character played by Steve Martin is advised by his associates to keep the "eggplants" out of his planned housing development. "Eggplants?" Steve asks. "Yeah, the Jungle Bunnies.", says the other guy. "Of course. Bunnies will eat the eggplants", says Steve. "No, I mean the niggers", says the other guy. "What!", says Steve Martin, "I am a nigger."<ref>The Jerk 1979</ref>
Fuzzies 
a black person. In the 1964 film classic, "Zulu", the British officer played by Michael Caine refers to the Zulus as "fuzzies".<ref>Zulu 1964</ref>
Gable 
a black person.<ref name="Spears, loc. cit. p. 118"/>
Golliwogg 
(UK Commonwealth) a dark-skinned person, after Florence Kate Upton's children's book character <ref>"'Controversial' golly to be shelved" BBC News 23 August 2001</ref>
Jigaboo, jiggabo, jijjiboo, zigabo, jig, jigg, jiggy, jigga 
(U.S. & UK) a black person (JB) with stereotypical black features (dark skin, wide nose, etc.).<ref>Simpson, "jigaboo," op. cit.</ref> The term "jig" was often used by Richard Nixon when speaking in private. Used to refer to mannerisms that resemble dancing.
Jim Crow 
(U.S.) a black person; also the name for the segregation laws prevalent in much of the United States until the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s.<ref>Jim Crow Laws: Arkansas</ref>
Jim Fish 
(South Africa) a black person<ref>"Jim Fish." Ibid. [Accessed 12 March 2006].</ref>
Kaffir, kaffer, kaffir, kafir, kaffre 
(South Africa) a. a black person. Very offensive.
Macaca 
Epithet used to describe a Negro (originally) or a person of North-African origin (more recently). Came to public attention in 2006 when U.S. Senator George Allen infamously used it to refer to one of Jim Webb's volunteers, S. R. Sidarth, when he said, "This fellow here, over here with the yellow shirt, macaca, or whatever his name is." <ref>Allen Quip Provokes Outrage, Apology</ref>
Mammy 
Domestic servant of African descent, generally good-natured, often overweight, and loud.<ref name="Mammy">Goings, Kenneth (1994) Mammy and Uncle Mose: Black Collectibles and American Stereotyping, Bloomington: Indiana University Press, ISBN 0-253-32592-7</ref>
Mosshead 
a black person.<ref name="Spears, loc. cit. p. 118"/>
Munt 
(among whites in South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Zambia) a black person from muntu, the singular of Bantu<ref>Simpson. "munt." loc. cit.</ref>
Nig-nog or Nig Jig 
(UK & U.S.) a black person.<ref>"nig-nog" Webster's</ref>
Nigger / nigra / nigga / niggah / nigguh / nigglet 
(U.S., UK) An offensive term for a black person. From the word negro which means the color black in numerous languages. Diminutive appellations include "Nigg" and "Nigz." Over time, the terms "Nigga" and "Niggaz" (plural) have come to be frequently used between some African-Americans without the negative associations of "Nigger."
Nigra / negra / niggra / nigrah / nigruh 
(U.S.) offensive for a black person [first used in the early 1900s]<ref>Simpson. "nigra," loc. cit.</ref>
Pickaninny 
a term – generally considered derogatory – that in English usage refers to black children, or a caricature of them which is widely considered racist.
Porch monkey 
a black person,<ref>Who Are The Bush People? by Sean Gonsalves</ref>
Powder burn 
a black person.<ref name="Spears, loc. cit. p. 118"/>
Quashie 
a black person.<ref name="Spears, loc. cit. p. 118"/>
Sambo 
(U.S.) a derogatory term for an African American, Black, or sometimes a South Asian person.<ref name="Mammy" /><ref>Boskin, Joseph (1986) Sambo, New York: Oxford University Press</ref>
Smoked Irish / smoked Irishman 
(U.S.) 19th century term for Blacks (intended to insult both Blacks and Irish).<ref name="Spears, loc. cit. p. 118"/>
Sooty 
a black person [originated in the U.S. in the 1950s]<ref>Simpson, "sooty." loc.

cit.</ref>

Spade 
A black person.<ref>American Heritage Dictionary</ref> recorded since 1928 (OED), from the playing cards suit.
Tar baby
(UK; U.S.; and N.Z.) a black child.<ref>Simpson, "tar," op. cit.</ref>
Teapot 
(British) a black person. [1800s]<ref>Green, loc. cit. p. 1185.</ref>
Thicklips 
a black person.<ref name="Spears, loc. cit. p. 118"/>
Uncle Tom 
(U.S. minorities) term for an African-American, Latino, or Asian who panders to white people; a "sellout" (from the title character of Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin.)

East Asian descent

Celestial 
(Aust.) In the late 1900s Chinese people in Australia were often referred to as "Celestials", a reference to their coming from the "Celestial Empire" (i.e. China).<ref>"A Celestial on a Bronco"</ref>
Charlie 
(U.S.) A term used by American troops during the Vietnam War as a short-hand term for communist guerrillas: it was shortened from "Victor Charlie," the radio code designation for Viet Cong, or VC.<ref>"The Language of War," on the American Experience/Vietnam Online website. Retrieved August 31, 2007.</ref>
Chee-chee 
a Eurasian half-caste [probably from Hindi chi-chi fie!, literally, dirt]<ref>"chee-chee." Webster's [Accessed 12 March 2006].</ref>
Chinaman 
(U.S. and English) Chinese person, used in old American west when discrimination against Chinese was common.<ref>Peak of Controversy in Canmore "a resident of Calgary, wrote to the Minister of Community Development strongly objecting to the name Chinaman's Peak"</ref> Possibly coined by early Chinese Americans from a translation of "Zhong Guo Ren" which is literally "China" and "Person." In contrast to "Frenchman" or "Irishman" which are generally considered neutral, non-insulting terms, "Chinaman" is considered offensive especially in the U.S. due to the virulent anti-Asian racism of the period in which the term came into popular usage (mid-1800s) and tends to generate objections in contemporary usage. Can be comparable to referring to a Black person as "a Negro", today. In 20th century Chicago politics, "Chinaman" had a specific, unintentionally insulting meaning. A junior politician or government worker's political patron was referred to as their "Chinaman" (or "chinaman" without the initial capital) regardless of their actual ethnic heritage or gender.<ref name="CST">"From trouble to patronage job, and now to bigger trouble" January 27, 2004 Chicago Sun-Times. Accessed March 7, 2007. "Before the age of political correctness, Munoz would have been called Torres' chinaman, and in City Hall, that's still what they'd call him, but if you prefer, you can stick with mentor or patron."</ref> "Chinaman", without the initial capital, is also regularly used in cricket in a non-ethnic sense to refer to a left-handed bowler who uses a wrist spin action.
Chink 
(U.S.) used towards people of perceived Chinese descent, referring to eye shape. Considered extremely derogatory, although at least one U.S. school proudly used the term as a sports mascot until the 1980s.<ref name="simpsonschinky">Simpson, "Chinky"</ref>
Jap 
(Predominantly U.S.) Offensive. Shortened from the word "Japanese", used derogatorily towards the group.
Gook 
a derogatory term for Asians, used especially for enemy soldiers.<ref name=gook>Dictionary.com .</ref> Its use as an ethnic slur has been traced to U.S. Marines serving in the Philippines in the early 20th century.<ref name=gook/> The earliest recorded use is dated 1920.<ref name=Seligman>Seligman, Herbert J., "The Conquest of Haiti", The Nation, July 10, 1920.</ref> Widely popularized by the Vietnam War (1965–73).
Oriental 
(Predominantly U.S., used elsewhere) Refers to an East Asian person (of the Orient) and/or their ethnicity; not generally considered offensive.
Nip 
Offensive. A Japanese person. From "Nippon", first used in World War II
Slopehead, slope head or slope 
Highly offensive reference to East Asians, specifically Vietnamese and Chinese. Earliest reference is US usage in Vietnam War period, also used in Australia.

South Asian descent

American-Born Confused Desi, or ABCD
(East Indians in U.S.): used for American-born South Asians including Indian/ Pakistani/ Bangladeshi (mainly Indians as Indians are the largest number of "South Asians") who are confused about their cultural identity. This is often used humorously without any derogatory meaning.

European descent

Afro-Saxon 
(North America) A young white male devotee of black pop culture.<ref>Speers, loc. cit. p.4.</ref>
Ann 
A white woman to a black person – or a black woman who acts too much like a white one. While Miss Ann, also just plain Ann, is a derisive reference to the white woman, by extension it is applied to any black woman who puts on airs and tries to act like Miss Ann.<ref name="Hugh Rawson 1989 p. 19"/>
Bule 
(Indonesia) White people. Literally: albino, but used in the same way that 'colored' might be used to refer to a black person to mean any white person.<ref>Don't call me bule! How expatriates experience a word</ref>
Charlie 
Mildly derogatory term used by African Americans, mainly in the 1960s and 1970s, to refer to a white person (from James Baldwin's novel, Blues For Mr. Charlie).
Coonass or coon-ass 
(U.S.) a Cajun; may be derived from the French conasse. May be used among Cajuns themselves. Not considered to be derogatory in most circumstances.
Cracker 
(U.S.) Derogatory term for whites, particularly from the American South.<ref>1911 Encyclopedia Britannica</ref> May be used by whites themselves in a non-offensive manner.
Gringo 
(The Americas) Non-Hispanic U.S. national. Hence Gringolandia, the United States; not always a pejorative term, unless used with intent to offend.<ref>The American Heritage Dictionary: Gringo</ref>
Gubba 
(AUS) Aboriginal (Koori) term for white people<ref>"gubba," Moore, op. cit. [Accessed 7 May 2006.]</ref> – derived from Governor / Gubbanah
Gweilo, gwailo, or kwai lo (鬼佬) 
(Hong Kong and South China) A White man. Gwei means "ghost." The color white is associated with ghosts in China. A lo is a regular guy (i.e. a fellow, a chap, or a bloke).<ref>Gwai Louh: The Foreign Devil</ref> Once a mark of xenophobia, the word was promoted by Maoists and is now in general, informal use.<ref>Gweilo</ref>
Honky (U.S.) 
Offensive term for a white person.
Haole (Hawaii) 
Usually not offensive, can be derogatory if intended to offend. Used by modern-day Native Hawaiians to refer to anyone of European descent whether native born or not. Use has spread to many other islands of the Pacific and is known in modern pop culture.<ref>haole – Definition from the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary</ref>
Mangia cake / cake (Canada)
A derogatory term used by Italians to disdainfully describe those of Anglo-Saxon descent (from Italian, literally 'cake eater'). One suggestion is that this term originated from the perception of Italian immigrants that Canadian bread is sweet as cake in comparison to the rustic bread eaten by Italians.<ref>"Anyone for a Kubasa on a Calabrese?"</ref>
Ofay 
(US) a white person, unknown etymology. <ref>Online Etymology Dictionary</ref> <ref>"Saturday Night Live transcript, Season 1, Episode 7"</ref>
Peckerwood 
(U.S.) a white person (southerner). The term "Peckerwood," an inversion of "Woodpecker," is used as a pejorative term. This word was coined in the 19th century by Southern blacks to describe poor whites. They considered them loud and troublesome like the bird, and often with red hair like the woodpecker's head plumes.<ref>A Visual Database of Extremist Symbols, Logos and Tattoos</ref>
Roundeye 
(English speaking Asians) a white or non-Asian person.<ref>Spears, p. 295.</ref>
Wigger, Wegro 
is a slang term for a white person who allophilically emulates mannerisms, slangs and fashions stereotypically associated with urban African Americans; especially in relation to hip hop culture.
Zog Lover 
used by white nationalists to describe an Aryan who is subservient to the Jews ("Zog"=Zionist Occupation Government).<ref>"Welcome to Zog-World" by Eric Thomson:</ref>

Individual ethnicities

Americans

Merkin
The phrase "a merkin" sounds similar to "american", and is in common use by the British, especially expats and in online communities. (The precise meaning of the word is "pubic wig").
Yank
From the term "Yankee" used for people from New England,<ref>Yankee – Definitions from Dictionary.com</ref> often interrelated as slang, used within the UK (and sometimes Canada and Australia).
Septic
Cockney rhyming slang (from "Septic Tank", a part of sewage processing systems) rhyming with Yank.

British

Germans

Irish

Mick
Derogatory term for an Irishman in the U.S. and U.K. It is derived from Mickey and Mikey, nicknames for Mícheál, a common Irish name for males after St. Michael.
Paddy
Derogatory term for an Irish man, derived from a nickname for Pádraig, a common Irish name for males after St. Patrick.
Pogue
Epithet derived from the Irish phrase, "Pog mo Thoin", meaning kiss my ass. It is generally not considered offensive.
Taig
Extremely offensive term often used to describe Catholics in Northern Ireland. It often has implications of Republican sympathy.

Italians

Dago
(U.S.) A person of Italian descent.
Ginzo
(U.S.) an Italian-American.<ref>"ginzo" The New Oxford American Dictionary, second edition. Ed. Erin McKean. (Oxford University Press: 2005.) [Accessed 6 May 2006]</ref>
Goombah
An Italian male, especially an Italian thug or mafioso.
Greaseball
(U.S.) A person of Italian descent.<ref>greaseball – Definitions from Dictionary.com</ref>
Guido
(US) An Italian-American male. Usually offensive. Derives from the Italian given name, Guido. Used mostly in the Northeastern United States as a stereotype for working-class urban Italian-Americans.
Guinea
(U.S.) someone of Italian descent. (Derives from "Guinea Negro," was called because of some Italians who had dark complexions)<ref>"Guinea," op. cit. [Accessed 21 March 2006].</ref>
Wog
(Aus) Australian slur for people of Mediterranean and Southern European descent, such as Italians, Greeks, and Spaniards. It also extends to Middle Eastern Mediterranean people, such as the Lebanese, Turks, and Arabs.
Wop
(U.S.) A racial term for anyone of Italian descent, derived from the Italian dialectism, "guappo," close to "dude, swaggerer" and other informal appellations, a greeting among male Neapolitans.<ref>wop. Dictionary.com. Online Etymology Dictionary. Douglas Harper, Historian.</ref><ref>Online Etymological Dictionary: Wop</ref> With Out Passport/Papers or Working On Pavement are popular alternative etymologies for the slur, supposedly derived from Italians that arrived to North America as immigrants without papers and worked in construction and blue collar work. These acronyms are dismissed as folk etymology or backronyms by etymologists.

Jews

Russians

Russki, Russkie 
Sometimes disparaging when used by foreigners for "Russian",<ref>Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2006, The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language</ref> although in the Russian language, it is a neutral term which simply means an ethnic Russian as opposed to a citizen of the Russian Federation.

See also

Literature

  • Geoffrey Hughes, An Encyclopedia of Swearing: The Social History of Oaths, Profanity, Foul Language, And Ethnic Slurs in the English-speaking World, (M.E. Sharpe: 2006)
  • The New Oxford American Dictionary, second edition. Ed. Erin McKean. (Oxford University Press: 2005).
  • The Concise Oxford English Dictionary. Ed. Catherine Soanes and Angus Stevenson. (Oxford University Press: 2004)
  • Bruce Moore (editor), The Australian Oxford Dictionary, (2004)
  • Eric Partridge, A Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English, (2002)
  • Richard A. Spears, Slang and Euphemism, (2001)
  • Jonathon Green, The Cassell Dictionary of Slang (1998)
  • Grand dictionnaire (Larousse: 1993)
  • John A. Simpson, Oxford Dictionary Of Modern Slang ISBN 0-19-861052-1
  • John A. Simpson, Oxford English Dictionary Additions Series ISBN 0-19-861299-0




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