5 everyday terms with racist origins

Some of today's most common terms would have offended people years ago—and probably still should, if anyone knew what they meant.

 

Mike Fenn

IRL

Published Sep 8, 2014   Updated May 30, 2021, 3:22 pm CDT

Some of today’s most common terms would have offended people years ago—and probably still should, if anyone knew what they really meant.

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BuzzFeed Video has compiled several words with racist origins in an educational and somewhat upbeat YouTube video. While some, like “gypped” and “Indian giver,” obviously have negative undertones, others, such as “hooligan,” are a bit more surprising.

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Naturally, YouTube users reacted en masse. Some pointed out the differences between racism and xenophobia; others questioned the validity of the chosen terms. Others offered to contribute, listing words that the video had omitted. After all, who knows racist terms better than YouTube commenters?

The term “Yankees,” for example, was used to make fun of Dutch settlers. It “literally means ‘Jan Kees,’” a popular Dutch name, user Lucky Goldstar Music noted.

Photo by tarotastic/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

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*First Published: Sep 8, 2014, 4:24 pm CDT