Race : the classic from Studs Terkel, available on Amazon.com

Notes on the 20th Century

by Michael H. Burchett


TNT NEWS : Headlines Updated Daily


Michael H. Burchett: affordable editing, proofreading, writing for hire

Terraplane Publications: specialized titles, historical fiction

India Notebook: Indian politics and culture

Mike's Mall: Books, Clothing, Electronics, Music , more

Free Page: Links to coupons, product samples, services, and information

From the Attic: Trivia, Culture, etc.

Mike's Reading List: an ever-expanding bibliography

FOR SALE: Kimball Spinet Piano


"The Origins of American Racial and Ethnic Slurs" Series

When I began posting these pages in September 2000, I had no idea that they would become so popular.  It appears, however, that a great many people are hungry for knowledge of how these terms came into being and evolved into their current infamous incarnations.  Such information is hard to come by in a society that is understandably squeamish about these words and paranoid about the consequences of discussing them in light of the recent phenomenon of "political correctness."  But given my relative obscurity and scholarly independence, I care little of such things.  I seek only the truth, and the truth is not always pretty.  So proceed with the following caveat in mind, and never be afraid to feed your head.

-- MHB

NOTE: The purpose of these pages is to provide a scholarly perspective on an unpleasant but pervasive phenomenon in American culture. Some of the words discussed below are quite offensive, yet it is hoped that this article may serve to demystify them somewhat by revealing their humble and often benign origins.

THIS PAGE IS NOT INTENDED TO PROMOTE, CONDONE, OR EXCUSE THE USE OF THESE WORDS IN ANY WAY. Parents and educators are advised to exercise discretion in the use of this material for educational purposes.


Part I:  "nigger, "wetback," "wop," "honky," "fag/faggot," "nip"

Part II: "kike," "coolie," "dyke," "hick/hillbilly," "pickaninny," "spic"

Part III: "dago," "bohunk," "chink," "dink," "limey," "polack," "poofter," "slope"

Part IV: "bolilio," "gringo," "guinea," "shine," "spook"

Part V:  "hillbilly," "cracker," "redneck," "moolie"

Part VI: "sheeny," "mockey," "moke," "Georgia blue-gum," "wigger"

"A Niggardly Debate"

"Slurs Revisited" (reader-submitted info re: "fag/faggot")

Back to this month's Notes on the 20th Century


Search Ancestry.com - The #1 Online Genealogy Library

Notes on the 20th Century is produced by The New Terraplane: moving toward the future with an eye on the past.

This page is updated (approximately) semi-monthly: visit here again for more essays, quizzes, quotes, and other information on twentieth-century America.

Feedback is encouraged: mburchet@innova.net

Report problems to webmaster@terraplanepub.com

Copyright 1999-2002 Michael H. Burchett





23:  '80s Nuggets, Part III (Live Aid)

22:  The FBI's Plan to Destroy Martin Luther King

21:  The School Prayer Debate

20:  A Brief History of Tobacco Regulation 

19:  A Niggardly Debate

18:  More Nuggets of Absurdity From the 1980s

17:  Origins of American Racial and Ethnic Slurs, Part IV

16:  Origins of American Racial and Ethnic Slurs, Part III

15:  Nuggets of Absurdity from the 1980s

14: A Bad Month for Gerald Ford

13: Origins of American Racial and Ethnic Slurs, Part II

12: History of Black Radio Broadcasting

11: "The "Progressive" Origins of the War on Drugs, Part II

10: Origins of American Racial and Ethnic Slurs

 9: Technology -- the Inventors

8: Postwar Prosperity and the Birth of Mass Culture, Part II

7: Pop Culture Quiz, Postwar Prosperity & the Birth of Mass Culture, Part I

6: Black History Quiz, Message from the Publisher

5: Pearl Harbor

4: "The "Progressive" Origins of the War on Drugs, Part I

3: "The Vietnam Conflict: Facts and Figures"

2: "The Celebration of Independence Day: A Southern Perspective"

1: "The Birth of FM Radio"


Gradschools.com Banner