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List of Ethnic Slurs
The following is a list of ethnic slurs (ethnophaulisms) that are, or have been, used as insinuations or allegations about members of a given ethnicity, or to refer to them in a derogatory (that is, critical or disrespectful), pejorative (disapproving or contemptuous), or otherwise insulting manner.
Some of the terms listed below (such as "Gringo", "Yank", etc.) are used by many people all over the world as part of their ordinary speech or thinking without any intention of causing offence.
For the purposes of this list, an ethnic slur is a term designed to insult others on the basis of race, ethnicity, or nationality. Each term is listed followed by its country or region of usage, a definition, and a reference to that term.
Ethnic slurs may also be produced as a racial epithet by combining a general-purpose insult with the name of ethnicity, such as "dirty Jew", "Russian pig", etc. Other common insulting modifiers include "dog", "filthy", etc. Such terms are not included in this list.
(AUS) Australian Aboriginal person. Originally, this was simply an informal term for Aborigine, and was in fact used by Aboriginal people themselves (such as in the Aboriginal-run newspaper Abo Call) until it started to be considered offensive in the 1950s. In more remote areas, Aboriginal people still often refer to themselves (quite neutrally) as Blackfellas (and whites as Whitefellas). Although Abo is still considered quite offensive by many, the pejorative boong is now more commonly used when the intent is deliberately to offend, as that word's status as an insult is unequivocal.
(U.S.) a black person, especially a black child. More commonly used in states where alligators are found, particularly Florida. First used in the early 20th century, although some hypothesize the term originated in the late 19th century. The term derives from the fact that, during the slave trade, Black children and babies were supposedly used as bait by White people in the US in order to catch alligators.
(North America) a white woman to a black person--or a black woman who acts "like a white woman". While Miss Ann, also just plain Ann, is a derisive reference to white women, it is also applied to any black woman who is deemed to be acting as though she is white.
A black person, referring to outdated theories ascribing cultural differences between ethnic groups as being linked to their evolutionary distance from chimpanzees, with which humans share common ancestry.
(North America) an American Indian (Native American) who is "red on the outside, white on the inside". Used primarily by other American Indians to indicate someone who has lost touch with their cultural identity. First used in the 1970s.
(Israel) Arabs, derived from Hebrew "Aravi" (Arab) which is itself inoffensive.
(North America; UK; Malaysia) an East or Southeast Asian person living in a Western country (e.g., an Asian American) who is yellow on the outside, white on the inside. Used primarily by East or Southeast Asians to indicate someone who has lost touch with the cultural identity of his or her parents.
(Aus) Australian aboriginal. Boong, pronounced with ? (like the vowel in bull), is related to the Australian English slang word bung, meaning "dead", "infected", or "dysfunctional". From bung, to go bung "Originally to die, then to break down, go bankrupt, cease to function [Ab. bong dead]". Highly offensive. [First used in 1847 by JD Lang, Cooksland, 430] The (Oxford) Australian National Dictionary gives its origin in the Wemba word for "man" or "human being".
(U.S., Canada, UK, New Zealand, India) mocking the language of or a person of perceived Chinese descent. An offensive term that has raised considerable controversy, for example when used by comedian Rosie O'Donnell. (Some Chinese languages/dialects are tonal languages.)
(Indonesia) a Chinese person or descendant. Use in media has been banned since 2014 under Keppres no. 12/2014, replaced by Tiongkok (from Zhongguo ) or Tionghoa (from Zhonghua ). The President Decision (Keppres) even bans use of "China" in media and formal use.
Named after the coconut, the nut from the coconut palm; in the American sense, it derives from the fact that a coconut is brown on the outside and white on the inside.
(U.S.) a person of Hispanic descent who is accused of acting "white".
(U.S.) a poor Appalachian or poor Southerner, a white person, first used in the 19th century. It is sometimes used specifically to refer to a native of Florida or Georgia. Also used in a more general sense in North America to refer to white people disparagingly.
Term originating from the Hebrew Bible, generally used to refer to a dark-skinned person usually of Africandescent. Originally merely descriptive, in present-day Israel it increasingly assumed a pejorative connotation and is regarded as insulting by Ethiopian Israelis and by African migrant workers and asylum seekers in Israel.
An Urdu term used for Indians and Pakistanis (specifically Punjabis). The term literally translates to "dal eater", connoting the supposedly higher emphasis on pulses and vegetables in the diet of countryside Punjabis.
Darky / darkey / darkie
noun. a black person. According to lexicographer Richard A. Spears, the word "darkie" used to be considered mild and polite, before it took on a derogatory and provocative meaning.
a Southeast Asian, particularly a Vietnamese person. Also used as a disparaging term for a North Vietnamese soldier or guerrilla in the Vietnam War. Origin: 1965-70, Americanism
(Canada) Irish Catholic [19th century on; origin uncertain: perhaps from Dugan, an Irish surname].
(UK, France, Hungary ("fricc"), Poland [Fryc], Russia [?], Latvia [fricis]) a German [from Friedrich (Frederick)].
Frog, Froggy, Frogeater
(Canada, UK and U.S.) a French person, person of French descent, or a French Canadian. Before the 19th century, referred to the Dutch (as they were stereotyped as being marsh-dwellers). When France became Britain's main enemy, replacing the Dutch, the epithet was transferred to them, because of the French penchant for eating frogs' legs (see comparable French term Rosbif).
A predominantly UK expression which originally was a children's literature character and type of black doll but which eventually became to be used as a jibe against people with dark skin, most commonly Afro-Caribbeans.
Far Easterners, used especially for enemy soldiers. Its use has been traced to U.S. Marines serving in the Philippines in the early 20th century. The earliest recorded example is dated 1920. It gained widespread notice as a result of the Korean and Vietnam wars.
(India, Pakistan, UK) an expression used by South Asians for white people. The term gora (?) literally means "blond/blonde" in Hindi.
A White person from an English-speaking country. Used in Spanish-speaking regions - chiefly Latin America, but sometimes used by Latino Americans. In Mexico only means an American. Likely from the Spanish word "griego", meaning Greek. In the Portuguese language, it is a colloquial neutral term for any foreigner, regardless of race, ethnicity or origin, or for a person whose native language is not Portuguese (including people whose native language is Spanish).
(used in Mainland China and Taiwan) Foreigners. Basically the same meaning as the term gweilo used in Hong Kong. More often used when referring foreigners as military enemies, such as riben guizi (?, Japanese devils, because of Second Sino-Japanese War), meiguo guizi (?, American devils, because of Korean War).
(U.S.) An Italian American male. Derives from the Italian given name, Guido. Used mostly in the Northeastern United States as a stereotype for working-class urban Italian Americans. A female equivalent may be guidette.
A person of Italian birth or descent. Most likely derived from "Guinea Negro", implying that Italians are dark or swarthy-skinned like the natives of Guinea. The diminutive "Ginzo" probably dates back to World War II and is derived from Australian slang picked up by U.S. servicemen in the Pacific Theater.
(used in South of Mainland China and Hong Kong) A White man. Loosely translated as "foreign devil"; more literally, might be "ghost dude/bloke/guy/etc". 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). Once a mark of xenophobia, the word is now in general, informal use.
(U.S.) Used to refer to Iraqis, Arabs, Afghans, or Middle Eastern and South Asian people in general. Derived from the honorific Al-Hajji, the title given to a Muslim who has completed the Hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca).
Anyone who is mixed race, such as of Native American (especially North American) and white European parentage. Métis is a French term, also used in Canadian English, for a half-breed, and mestizo is the equivalent in Spanish, although these are not offensive per se.
(U.S.) a white person. Derived from an African American pronunciation of "hunky", the disparaging term for a Hungarian laborer. The first record of its use as an insulting term for a white person dates from the 1950s.[unreliable source?]
(New Zealand) used by M?ori to refer to New Zealanders of European descent.
a. (U.S. and UK) Germans, especially German soldiers; popular during World War I. Derived from a speech given by Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany to the German contingent sent to China during the Boxer Rebellion in which he exhorted them to "be like Huns" (i.e., savage and ruthless) to their Chinese enemy.
(U.S.) A central Central European laborer. It originated in the coal regions of Pennsylvania and West Virginia, where Poles and other immigrants from Central Europe (Hungarians (Magyar), Rusyns, Slovaks) came to perform hard manual labor in the mines.
(Malaysia) an Indonesian, which similar to "Indon" term mixed with "Dog" and "Sial" (Malay word for "Damn"). Used mostly in Malaysia.
A person of the Tutsi ethnic group in Africa. Literally means "Cockroach" and reportedly derives from how Tutsi rebels would attack at night and retreat, being hard to kill, like a cockroach. Most notably came to worldwide prominence around the time of the Rwanda genocide.
(U.S.) a black person with stereotypical black features (e.g. dark skin, wide nose, and big lips). From a Bantu verb tshikabo, meaning "they bow the head docilely", indicating meek or servile individuals.
(UK) a Scottish person, Scots language nickname for the personal name John, cognate to the English, Jack. Occasionally used as an insult, but also in respectful reference to elite Scottish, particularly Highland troops, e.g. the 9th (Scottish) Division. Same vein as the English insult for the French, as Frogs. In Ian Rankin's detective novel Tooth and Nail the protagonist - a Scottish detective loaned to the London police - suffers from prejudice by English colleagues who frequently use "Jock" and "Jockland" (Scotland) as terms of insult; the book was based on the author's own experience as a Scot living in London.
a term to refer to Malaysians, Singaporeans and Indonesians with origins in India and elsewhere in the Indian subcontinent. In Indonesian, the term is in derogative meaning and discriminatory in racial connotation, as it can be applied to any person with dark complexion, not only Southern Indian descents, but also to native Indonesians with darker complexion and Africans.
(U.S.) Ashkenazi Jews. Possibly from kikel, Yiddish for "circle". Immigrant Jews who couldn't read English often signed legal documents with an "O" (similar to an "X", to which Jews objected because "X" also symbolizes a cross).
(Indonesia) a Malaysian citizen, as the reply to Indon word. Malon is (mostly) a short for "Malaysia Bloon" (dumb Malaysians).
Malingsia / Malingsial / Malingsialan
(Indonesia) means "Malaysian thief / damned thief", is a slang for Malaysians. Originally combined from 2 words "maling" (Javanese, meaning "thief") and "Malaysia". It was used by the Indonesian people because of the continuous claims of Indonesian cultures, Indonesians treated Malaysians as a group of thief, for stealing local Indonesian cultures that don't have any connection with Malaysia (such as Reog Ponorogo which comes from East Java, Batik, Balinese Hindu Pendet dance, etc.) and food (Rendang, etc.).
(Central African countries around/near Lake Victoria) white-skinned person in Central Africa. Derived from "wanderer" or "someone who roams around" in Swahili to describe European explorers in the 1800s who were thought to be lost because they passed the same spot in their exploration or reconnoitering of Africa.
(Indonesia) The term pribumi was coined after Indonesian independence to replace the derogatory Dutch term Inlander ("native"). "Non-pribumi", often simply "non-pri", was then used to refer to Indonesians of foreign descent, especially Chinese Indonesians and was generally considered to suggest that they were not full citizens. Use of both "pribumi" and "non-pribumi" by government departments was banned by President B.J. Habibie in 1998 according to Inpres (Instruksi Presiden, lit. President's Instruction) 26/1998, along with instruction to stop discrimination by race in government.
(UK) used in the south of England, relating to the supposed stupidity and lack of sophistication of those in the north of the country. In some cases this has been adopted in the north of England, with a pub in Leeds even taking the name 'The Northern Monkey'. (see also Southern Faerie)
(Syria and the Levant) a member of the Alawite sect of Shi'a Islam. Once a common and neutral term derived from the name of Ibn Nusayr, the sect's founder, it fell out of favour within the community in the early decades of the 20th century due the perception that it implied a heretical separateness from mainstream Islam. Resurgent in the context of the ongoing Syrian Civil War, the term is now often employed by Sunni fundamentalist enemies of the government of Bashar al-Assad, an Alawite, to suggest that the faith is a human invention lacking divine legitimacy.
(Hungarian-speaking territories) a term used pejoratively by Hungarians to refer to Romanians
(U.S.) black on the outside and white on the inside, hinted by the appearance of an Oreo cookie. Used as early as the 1960s.
(Pacific Islands) a Samoan term for a white person, found throughout the Pacific islands. Not usually derogatory unless used in reference to a local to imply they have assimilated into Western culture.
(Ireland) someone who knows little of Irish culture, but asserts their 'Irish' identity. Can refer to foreign nationals who claim Irishness based solely on having Irish relatives. Often used in the same sense as poseur and wannabe.
(Southwest U.S., Mexico) adjective: term for a person of Mexican heritage who is partially or fully assimilated into U.S. culture (literally, "diluted, watered down (drink); undersized (clothing)"). (See also "Chicano")
Arabs, Indian Sikhs and some other peoples, for wearing traditional headdress such as turbans or keffiyehs. Sometimes used generically for all Islamic nations. Also called "Osama" as a slur. See towel head.
a term used in Peru and Bolivia to refer disdainfully to Chileans. The term roto ("tattered") was first applied to Spanish conquerors in Chile, who were badly dressed and preferred military strength over intellect.
(English-speaking Asians) a white or non-Asian person.
a black person [originated in the U.S. in the 1950s]
Southern Faerie, Southern Fairy
(UK), a pejorative term used in the North of England to refer to someone from the South, alluding to their supposed mollycoddled ways. (see also Northern Monkey)
(South Africa) an Afrikaans term abbreviated as "Soutie" and translates as "Salt-penis", and used as a derogatory term for White English speaking people. It derives from the Boer Wars where it was said that British soldiers had one foot in the UK, one foot in South Africa and their penis dangled in the Atlantic Ocean.
a. (U.S.) a person of Hispanic descent. First recorded use in 1915. Theories include from "no spik English" (and spiggoty from the Chicano no speak-o t'e English), but common belief is that it is an abbreviation of "Hispanic".
a black person, attested from the 1940s.
a Nordic person, such as a Scandinavian or a German. Refers to either the stereotyped shape of their heads, or to the shape of the Stahlhelm M1916 steel helmet, or to its owner's stubbornness (like a block of wood).
(U.S. and CAN) a Native American woman. Derived from lower East Coast Algonquian (Massachusett: ussqua), which originally meant "young woman", but which took on strong negative connotations in the late 20th century.
a. (Britain and Ireland) an inconsequential person (typically lower-class); (note that in Britain, the term "Irish Tinker" may be used, giving it the same meaning as example b.)
b. (Scotland and Ireland) a Gypsy [origin unknown - possibly relating to one of the 'traditional' occupations of Gypsies as travelling 'tinkerers' or repairers of common household objects]
c. (Scotland) a member of the native community; previously itinerant (but mainly now settled); who were reputed for their production of domestic implements from basic materials and for repair of the same items, being also known in the past as "travelling tinsmiths", possibly derived from a reputation for rowdy and alcoholic recreation. Often confused with Gypsy/Romani people.
American prison derogatory term for a black person.
a person who wears a turban. Often refers specifically to Sikhs, or Arabs and Muslims--based on the traditional keffiyeh headdress.
Touch of the tar brush
(British) derogatory phrase for a person of predominantly Caucasian[when defined as?] ancestry with real or suspected African or Asian distant ancestry.
A pejorative term historically used in Western Europe and still in use within the Balkans to refer to Muslim Albanians. In the Greek language, the expression is rendered as Turkalvanoi.
(South Wales) A person from Llanelli. The origin of this term is uncertain; some theories suggest it due to Llanelli's popularity with Turkish sailors in the late 19th to early 20th century or possibly when Turkish migrants heading for the U.S. stopped in Llanelli and decided to settle due to there being jobs available. However, most likely it's due to the fact that during World War One there was a trade embargo in place during Gallipoli, but Llanelli continued to trade tin with the Turkish; this led to people from neighbouring Swansea and other surrounding areas referring to them as Turks.
(U.S.) an illegal immigrant residing in the United States. Originally applied specifically to Mexican migrant workers who had illegally crossed the U.S. border via the Rio Grande river to find work in the United States, its meaning has since broadened to anyone who illegally enters the United States through its southern border.
(U.S.) used in 19th-century United States to refer to the Irish. Sometimes used today in reference to white people in a manner similar to white trash or redneck. Also refers to white youth that imitate urban black youth by means of clothing style, mannerisms, and slang speech. Also used by radical Québécois in self-reference, as in the seminal 1968 book White Niggers of America.
a. (UK and Commonwealth, except AUS) any swarthy or dark-skinned foreigner. Possibly derived from "golliwogg." In Britain, it usually refers to dark-skinned people from Asia or Africa, though some use the term to refer to anyone outside the borders of their own country.
b. (AUS) Usually used to refer to Southern Europeans and Mediterraneans (Italians, Croatians, Greeks, Albanians, Spaniards, Lebanese, and others).
a term used by modern Mapuche as an insult for Mapuches considered to be subsirvient to non-indigenous Chileans, "sellout". Use of the word "yanacona" to describe people have led legal action in Chile.
a very light skinned black person. A yellow bone is of mixed black and white ancestry and, in some cases, it's possible they may be predominantly of white heritage but identify as black due to the long-lasting cultural ramifications of the one-drop rule. American singer Beyoncé, who is of Louisiana Creole ancestry, has described herself as yellow bone.
a Jew, from its use as an endonym among Yiddish-speaking Jews.
The Cambodian word "Yuon" (yuôn) /ju?n/ is an ethnic slur for Vietnamese, derived from the Indian word for Greek, "Yavana". It can also be spelled as "Youn".
^Woo, Emma (2008). Chinese American Names: Tradition and Transition. McFarland. p. 66. ISBN9780786438778. Retrieved 2013. [Translated Electronically] Not surprisingly, Chinese Americans who do not speak Chinese may be told that they are 'not really Chinese'. This message is found in the term ABC which stands for 'American-born Chinese'. It implies that the native-born who cannot speak Chinese has either rejected or lost his Chinese heritage. Yet many native-born Chinese Americans cheerfully use for themselves.
^Hope, Christopher (9 November 1996). "Books: Hairybacks and white kaffirs". The Independent. Archived from the original on 14 June 2014. Retrieved 2014. whenever English speakers objected to living in a racial zoo designed to protect the mythical purity of Afrikaner nationalists, they were accused by their masters of giving way to Boerehaat (hatred of the Boers)
^HAT. Johannesburg: Perskor. 2000. p. 104. ISBN9780628037695. Someone who hates Afrikaners and tries to harm or prejudice them
^Warman v. Beaumont, CHRT (Canadian Human Rights Commission 2007) ("I haven't seen the new $50 bills, but the $20s and $100s I have seen. I have talked with a few people about them (who aren't WN) but they don't like the fact that there is native stuff on the bills. I mean, who wants to pay for something and be reminded of a chug? Not me!").
^Rich, Tracey R. "Jewish Attitudes Toward Non-Jews". Judaism 101. Retrieved 2015. There is nothing inherently insulting about the word 'goy.' In fact, the Torah occasionally refers to the Jewish people using the term 'goy.' Most notably, in Exodus 19:6, G-d [sic] says that the Children of Israel will be 'a kingdom of priests and a holy nation', that is, a goy kadosh. Because Jews have had so many bad experiences with anti-Semitic non-Jews over the centuries, the term 'goy' has taken on some negative connotations, but in general the term is no more insulting than the word 'gentile.'
^Wolfthal, Diane (July 2004). Picturing Yiddish: Gender, Identity, and Memory in the Illustrated Yiddish Books of Renaissance Italy. Brill Academic Publishers. p. 59. ISBN978-9004139053. The word goy means literally "nation", but has come to mean "Gentile", sometimes with a derogatory connotation.
^ ab"Traced to the Mafia: Mysterious crimes among Pennsylvania miners". The Courier. Waterloo, Iowa. 1 February 1896. p. 2. Retrieved 2018 – via Newspapers.com. The average Pennsylvanian contemptuously refers to the immigrants as "Hikes" and "Hunks." The "Hikes" are Italians and Sicilians. "Hunks" is a corruption for Huns, but under this title the Pennsylvanian includes Hungarians, Lithuanians, Slavs, Poles, Magyars and Tyroleans.
^"Se infatti gli italiani chiamano i neri 'mulignan', accomunandoli appunto alle 'melanzane' per il colore della pelle, sono essi stessi definiti storicamente come 'guinea'", Simona Cappellari, Giorgio Colombo
Fiorini, Letteratura italoamericana, 2008, p. 79.
^Anastasia N. Karakasidou (1997). Fields of Wheat, Hills of Blood: Passages to Nationhood in Greek Macedonia, 1870-1990. Chicago & London: University of Chicago Press. p. 265. the terms Skopia and Skopians, derived from the name of that country's capital and principal city, Skopje, have been employed in a demeaning and derogatory manner to refer to the FYROM, its government, and its population.
^Philip Carabott (2003). "The Politics of Constructing the Ethnic "Other": The Greek State and Its Slav-speaking Citizens, ca. 1912 - ca. 1949". Jahrbücher für Geschichte und Kultur Südosteuropas. 5: 159. [...] the seemingly neutral but hardly non-derisive Skopianoi.
^"towelhead". Oxford Dictionaries. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 2014.
^John Akomfrah 1991 A Touch o;f the Tarbrush (TV Documentary) 1991
^Millas, Iraklis (2006). "Tourkokratia: History and the image of Turks in Greek literature". South European Society & Politics. 11. (1): 50. "The 'timeless' existence of the Other (and the interrelation of the Self with this Other) is secured by the name used to define him or her. Greeks often name as 'Turks' various states and groups--such as the Seljuks, the Ottomans, even the Albanians (Turkalvanoi)".
^Mihesuah, Devon A. (2002). American Indians: stereotypes & realities (Reprint ed.). Atlanta, GA: Clarity. p. 70. ISBN978-0-932863-22-5. Retrieved 2012. It's little wonder that Indians are closed-mouthed about their spirituality. Non-Indians claiming to be "spiritual leaders", "healers" and "medicine men and women" abound in this country, and these "crystal twinkies" (as a former Hopi student likes to call them) make a pretty decent living at deceiving the public.
^"Racing: Gallopers adored by the multitudes". 18 April 2013. Retrieved 2015. On the horse Kingston Town: "Sure, he's an Aussie, but sometimes you have to bow to the demands of your Australian-bred editor and include another West Islander."
Spears, Richard A. (2001). Slang and Euphemism: A Dictionary of Oaths, Curses, Insults, Ethnic Slurs, Sexual Slang and Metaphor, Drug Talk, College Lingo, and Related Matters. Signet. ISBN978-0-451-20371-7.
Wilkes, G. A. (1978). A Dictionary of Australian Colloquialisms. Sydney: Fontana/Collins. ISBN978-0-00-635719-3.
Burchfield, Robert. "Dictionaries and Ethnic Sensibilities". In The State of the Language, ed. Leonard Michaels and Christopher Ricks, University of California Press, 1980, pp. 15-23.