English Vocabulary: Racial Slurs


The word-of-mouth allegations spread rapidly throughout Guatemala: gringos are snatching babies and ripping out their vital organs for sale abroad.
Dangerous Rumors By Laura Lopez/Mexico City, Trish O''Kane/Guatemala City. At http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,980550,00.html
gringo = a Latin American (disparaging) term for foreigners (especially Americans and Englishmen).

• ginzo → Italian Mafia types

• honky → movie star Arnold Schwarzenegger is a honky.

• hunky → especially laborer, East central Europe.

• white trash → in movie The Silence of the Lambs, agent Clarice is being called a white trash by Dr Lector.

• redskin → Native American. aka American Indian.

• canuck → Canadian

• redneck → rubes in US of A

• dago → Italian or Spaniard or Portuguese

• Kraut → German. The doctor in movie Dr. Strangelove is being called a kraut.

• wetback → Mexican, especially those entered USA illegally. (because they swim through Rio Grande river, ~1929)

• Jap → Japanese

• Chink → Chinese.

• coon → black person


The insulting U.S. meaning “black person” was in use by 1837, said to be from barracoon (by 1837), from Portuguese barraca “slave depot, pen or rough enclosure for black slaves in transit in West Africa, Brazil, Cuba.” No doubt the word was boosted by the enormously popular blackface minstrel act Zip Coon (George Washington Dixon) which debuted in New York City in 1834. But it is perhaps older (one of the lead characters in the 1767 colonial comic opera “The Disappointment” is a black man named Raccoon). Coon's age is 1843, American English, probably an alteration of British a crow's age.