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You May Be A Racist And Not Even Know It

Words you didn't know had racist origins.
You May Be A Racist And Not Even Know It

We all tend to use words we hear from word of mouth, and pick up terms that our friend/peer groups use constantly, without thinking about it at all. Except, when that happens, all these phrases creep into our daily vocabulary and we have no idea where it came from. Here's some lesser known ones that are actually pretty racist:

1) Hooligan

The OED states that "Hooligan" was a the surname of made-up drunken Irishmen in cartoons that promoted all Irishmen as lawless and trouble-making. The stereotype of the drunken Irish is pretty longstanding, but does the Irish association with hooligans really stand if all sorts of nationalities are pretty equal across the board in drunken debauchery in Montreal, at least?

2) Gyp/Gypped

This one flew straight over my head for the longest while. "Gyp" is really just a shortening of the word "gypsy", and was used to refer to wandering tribes back when noone had the likes of Neon Hitch attached to the word. Used as a verb that means to rip someone off, its tied to the idea of gypsy tribes being historically known for being kind of shady in their business transactions. Rather not be associated with that judgment, just for using a catchy verb.

3) Vandal

For whoever still remembers high school history classes, the Vandals were a German tribe that attacked Rome in 455 and fought the Vandalic War with the Byzantine Empire a few centuries after. And now the dictionary defines vandal as "a person who willfully or ignorantly destroys or mars something beautiful or valuable."

Meaning Rome.

Tough shit.

4) Hip Hip Hooray

This cheer come from the German cry of "hep hep", widely used in riots targeting Jews. But the cheer was in common use in English before these riots, mostly for making toasts to someone's health, in the 19th century. Does the difference in language make the words any different in how racist they are?

5) Barbarian

This one is pretty well-known for being racist, ancient Greeks used this word to refer to anyone that didn't speak their language. Now the image of the barbarian is all over videogames, period TV shows, and a hella ripped shirtless dude. Not surprising though, everything's all sexed up now, even racial slurs, apparently. Yay media?

6) Bugger

This term used pretty widely in the 16th to refer to Bulgarians, but took on a gayer note as well, used only as insult. People in the 16th century were pretty homophobic and not so friendly toward foreigners, if you didn't know that already. Not that common among the non-British of us, but "bugger-off" is thought to be a "tamer" version of "fuck off" by very polite Europeans.

7) Peanut Gallery

This is pretty commonly used now, mostly to refer to people that make stupid or uninformed comments on something they are watching or listening to. This term was used to refer to the segregated seating in theatres where black people would only get room in the upper balcony. The association of the two meanings doesn't sit well at all.

Does the fact that we're using these words still but different newer meanings that are relatively in more common use mean that the terms have been re-appropriated or are in the process of being re-appropriated? Or are these just more words that are just not PC and everyone should stop saying already?

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