Toxic Words of Ignorance

Toxic Words of Ignorance

One of my classroom management strategies is the collaborative construction of the words of ignorance. Ask the students to work in groups to name the derogatory words used to describe different groups of people.  Identify these words as The Words of Ignorance”.  Have the students make a poster and put it up in your room. You will not hear these words in your room and I hear it reduces usage in other venues because oftentimes, people do not know what the words actually mean.                                       

Women Based Terms

Bitch -a critical reference to females

-referring to female canines who accept any male suitors and are very grouchy



-refers to a lesbian who appears to have male characteristics – haircut , dress, mannerisms
Cunt -a critical reference to females
Dyke -lesbian with male characteristics
Fag Hag -reference to a homosexual male’s closest female friend.
Lesbo -refers to a woman who is a lesbian
Like a Girl -negative term used to denote anything that is done with less skill especially physical aptitude-   Example such as when a male throws a ball like a girl
Rug muncher -used to describe someone who is a lesbian
Rule of Thumb -originated as a law by Sir Francis Buller in 1886 saying that a man could beat his wife with a stick no thicker than his thumb.
Slut -a sexually loose person, typically female
Queer Once a derogatory term for a homosexual person
This is an example of a word which was  once negative and has turned back to the positive
Whore -someone who has sex for money, drugs, or other favors

Elder Terms


Gender Based or Homosexual Term

Bugger -an abbreviation for “Bulgarian homosexual”. The Dutch used this word to mock the Bulgarian refugees and migrants.
Butt buddies -used to describe gay males
Butt Pirate -term used to assume homosexual males will rape any male they find attractive.
Fairy -a homosexual usually a male with female characteristics
Fag, Fagot, Fagget -a homosexual usually a male with female characteristics.
Fruitcake, Fruitcup -a homosexual usually a male with female characteristics.
Gay -homosexual male and lesbians

– also used to express displeasure in something

“Gay as AIDS” – saying something was extremely lame or foolish.
Gaytard -a word used to describe someone who is acting silly or foolish or idiotic
Gay Bashing -expression used to designate a verbal confrontation with , denigration of, or physical violence against people thought to be lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender.
Light in the Loafers Refers to a homosexual male
Sissy -A male who is thought to have female characteristics or behavior
That’s so Gay -some situation or behavior that has homosexual tendencies


Blue Hairs -old women –   refers to old people
Crone -an insulting word for an old woman

Drive Like an Old Lady -Someone who drives poorly
Goat -an insulting word for an old man, especially one who shows a great sexual interest in women

Old bag -an insulting word for an old woman

Old bat -an insulting word for an old woman who you think is slightly crazy

Older-timer -an old man

Pops -used for talking to an old man in a way that is not polite



African American Terms

African booty scratchers” -means Africans are primitive, they “scratch their booty on trees”  like animals.
African round ball –     (Basket ball) -refers to basketball because commonly played game with African Americans
Afro- engineering, Afro American Ingenuity -Similar to nigger rigged
Black Mark -a mark representing something bad or wrong made next to someone’s name
Boy boy (in reference to an adult African American)- whites referred to blacks (adult men) as boy to suggest they where not equal
Brooklyn Dark for  Brooklyn Park MN -refers to the dominant Black population of this first ring suburb of Minneapolis MN
Brown Town -refers to a section of North Minneapolis on West Broadway
Coon -A black person-   A building constructed to hold slaves-   Portuguese barracoos (possibly)
Cotton picking time, Cotton picker -referring to someone being slow
Cotton Top -diminutive reference to old black people with white hair (Q-tip)
Grandfathered-in The term “grandfather clause” originated in the American South, way back in the 1890s. At that time, several Southern states developed and enforced the clause as a way to defy the 15th Amendment, and thus prevent black Americans from utilizing their then-newfound right to vote. The “grandfather clause” stated that black men could only vote if their parents or grandparents were able to vote before the year 1867 — which was, conveniently for the racist lawmakers, many years before black Americans were permitted access to voting rights.

Hood Rat -a black prostitute on crack cocaine
The itis -“- referred to when you have a food coma. This is a shortened version of ni**eritis.
Jaywalker -An offensive term describing African-Americans, used by white people, when they do not want African-Americans to know they are talking about them. Term was formed in Northeast Atlanta. Probably because of African-Americans tendency to not use crosswalks when defiantly crossing busy roads.
-Someone who crosses the street illegally
Money in the Middle -a childhood game that refers to “keep away” or the act of keeping an object away from a person in between two other individuals
Nigger, Nig, Nig Nog -A black person-   may be used to refer to any person of darker skin color –   derived from Negro which means black in a number of languages
Nigger Head -refers to having rocks in their heads for lower intelligence
Nigger-Knocking -refers to the act of ringing a person’s doorbell and running away before the door is answered.  Also has been referenced to mean “when people in a vehicle stick a board out the window and knock down a black person who is walking along the road”.
Nigger knots The curly hair at the back of a neck line
Nigger Rigged/ Jerry-rig/Jimmy-Rig -something fixed or created without a plan or direction-   stuck together without  thought
Nigger Toes -Brazil nuts thought to look like a African’s big toe
Oreo Cookie -refers to a person who is black on the outside but white on the inside

-refers to black people who act white

The Peanut Gallery – Refers to ‘cheap seats’ in theaters where many African American’s had to sit.
Pickaniny -Black child-derived from Spanish term peque nino meaning little boy-in South Africa picannin is used
Porch Monkey -refers to an African American person who is lazy and sits on his/her porch all day
Saggin -“Niggas” spelled backwards. Derogatory term for African Americans –also implies pants that sag down.
Shiner -refers to the appearance that of an African American’s skin
Slope Head -refers to a head shaped like that of a “cave man”, insinuates a large head and a small brain.
Smellian -derogatory term used for people of Somalian descent. Insinuates that they smell bad.
Sold down the river -it is used when talking about someone betraying you. In history,  plantation owners sold slaves down the (Mississippi) river to the deeper south when they misbehaved.
Spade – in the 1920s, “spade” started being used as a slang term, and then a derogatory slur, for a black person. This racist shift in the phrase’s meaning also lead to the equally offensive phrase “black as the ace of spades.”
Thug – refers to a violent person or criminal, but it often takes on a racist connotation in the media and political rhetoric.

Tootsie -refers to black people from Tootsie Pop
Twist-Cone -refers to a person who is biracial (African American and White)
Uncle Toms -term used for African Americans, Latino or Asian who pander to White people-   A “sellout”  taken from Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin
“Jones” a cigarrette -refers to the “Jones” being a common last name for blacks and that blacks are always being given handouts
Ghetto – One who lives in low income areas
Eenie, Meenie, Miney, Moe, Catch a Nigger by the Toe -Children’s game referring to catching an escaping slave
White American

Blonde Moment


-referring to women particularly with blonde hair as being stupid

Cracker -poor Southern-   poor white trash-   1st used in 19th century to mean white people of European descent (blonde hair – blue eyes)
Drive White -refers to driving poorly
Free White and 21 -refers to white privilege being white, free and over the age of 21
Gringo – a white person from the United States, term used by Mexicans because for them “American” does not only refer to United Stateans but to everyone from Alaska to Argentina.  Sometimes but not always derogatory (note tone & context).
Honky -offensive term used to refer to a white person-   derived from hunkie or honky-talk or the perceived nasal quality of speech compared to black speech
Milk -derogatory term meaning white person
Red Neck, Hick -derogatory term or name generally used to refer to a white person who acts in a certain manner
WASP -White Anglo Saxon Protestant
White Boy -as in play that funky music white boy, which can refer to someone as being uncool, square, or in general, a bad dancer
Whiter than white -referring to someone who is very pale or ghostly white
White trash -an unrefined white person usually low income and poorly educated
Wigger -White person acting like a black person

European Decent

Polish Road Block -Yelling at two cars driving the same speed side by side down the freeway is a Polish roadblock
Bog A derogatory name for low class Irish people.
Bo hunk –   refers to a person of eastern central European descent .-   Commonly used to refer to Ukrainian immigrants during early 20th century.
Frog –   A French person-   comes from the French recipe for eating frog’s legs-   Also used in Canada to refer to both French and French Canadians
Go Dutch –   the female pays or-   each pays for their own-   refers to Dutch being cheap
Hooligan -Now used to refer to any trouble maker. The term originated as a way to refer to a drunken Irishman. It is derived from the surname Houlihan which was used in an Irish drinking song about a rowdy family.
Kraut –   Derogatory US and British term for a German person-   used mostly in World War II
Mick –   used to refer to an person of Irish descent-   from the prefix Mc or Mac meaning son commonly found in Irish surnames
Paddy Wagon -Today its slang for a police car. In the 1700s (and today) Paddy is a slur for Irishmen. And cop cars were called Paddy Wagons because Irish people were stereotyped as drunk and rowdy enough to frequently be inside of them (and also because there were large numbers of Irish policeman).


–   a person who from Poland or Polish descent a Pole


Wop -a racial term used to refer to a aperson of Italian decent-derived from Italian word “guappo” meaning thug
Yankee -a term used derogatorily toward white people who are from the north or “like black people too much.”
Guido -a term used to refer to people of Italian descent



Hun -referred to the German barbarians
Fritz -a derogatory term for Germans used by the British in WWII
Heinie -modification of the anem Heinrich, could be intended to mean idiot or moron
Jerry Rig -To fix an object (usually mechanical) to a working condition in a haphazard way. Also known as doing a MacGyver on it. This can apply to any non working thing, to fix it in a nonconventional way. This term was created during WW2, in reference to the Germans who were referred to as “Jerries” as slang. Allies often came across hastily repaired objects left by the Germans hence the term Jerry-Rig came to be. (
Kraut -based on German’s preference for sauerkraut
Nazi -based on history, often used to reference those who exert absolute control


ABCD American born Indians are called ABCD. American Born Confused Deshi. (Deshi means countryman in Hindi.) They are thought to be confused between two cultures.
Arabic Shower Referring from refraining from showering during times of fasting and just using perfume/ deodorant
Camel Jockey -refers to a person of Middle Eastern descent – Muslim male
Ham Sandwich -derogatory term for Muslims
Rag Head/Towel Head -an ethnic slur against people who wear traditional or cultural head covering-   examples turbans, hijib, keffiyehs
Sand Niggers -derogatory or pejorative term for any person of middle eastern descent


Asian Invasion -refers to a general majority change of incoming personnel (or any group) being of Asian heritage.
Banana: An Asian American who has lost their heritage. Yellow on the outside, white on the inside.
Bag -refers to girl of Asian descent with large chest (
Chinese Fire Drill -a large confused action by a group of individuals accomplishing nothing
Chink/Chinaman -refers to people of perceived Chinese descent-   Contraction of Chinese-   describes the shape of the eyes –chinks-   considered extremely derogatory\-   although at least one US school used the term as a sports mascot in the 1980s
Gook -An Asian person  by extension of terms ‘hangook’ and ‘migook’-   Can be used to indicate an enemy-   Example term used to refer to Korean people in Korean War or-   Vietnamese people in Vietnam War
Jap -short for Japanese
-Lower level of offensiveness
Long time no see – This has the same origins as “no can do”. It was a way of mocking Asian American’s English.
No can do – this originally was used to make fun of the English of Chinese immigrants
Nip or Nippon -highly derogatory term for someone of Japanese descent-   Shortened version from Nipponese from the Japanese name for Japan – Nippon


-an Eastern Asian Person-   term considered offensive by some Asians because they consider thing Oriental such as rugs, art, etc and people are Asian
Pan face -The facial features of Asians seem to be flatter than other races- looking as if they were hit by a pan
Rice burner -The term rice burner refers to automobiles that have the appearance of high performance but possibly with little or no functional mechanical modifications. The “rice” refers to the fact that many of these modified cars are of Japanese origin and owners or drivers are often but not necessarily Asian. Drivers of rice burners are known as “ricers” or “rice boys”. These terms are often used as a pejorative or ethnic slur. (
Slant-Eye -a term used to describe an Asian person’s eyes when they are closed
Zipperhead Coined by US Soldiers during the Korean War, if Asians were shot in the head with high powered weapons- their heads split as if you were unzipping them.
Ricer -Souped-up japanese cars that were favored by some of the hmong population as “ricers”,

Native American

[Running] Amok -used to refer to wild behavior. The word Amok was derived from the word “Amuco”, which is a band of Javanese and Malay warriors who were known for brutal violence.
Acting Like an Apple -refers to a Native American appearing red on the outside and white on the inside
Another Dead Indian Referring to an empty booze or beer bottle.
“Dot or feather?” Term to figure out which kind of Indian. Alternatively, “Slurpee or Casino?”


– an offensive term to Inuits, and that it was similar to calling a Native Indian “redskin”. I’ve never used it, but I’ve only heard it used for someone who likes/lives in the cold.
Geromino -the mission to find Osama Bin Laden was called, derogatory towards Native Americans to use a name of someone from their history they are proud of to capture a terrorist.
Hold Down the Fort This saying could be seen as negative and racially offensive to some people because it originally meant to watch and protect from “vicious” Native American intruders.
Indian Burn – when you grab a persons fore arm with both your hands and then twist in opposite directions.  Maybe it’s because it leaves your skin red?
Indian Giver/Indian Giving –  Slur against Native Americans implying dishonesty but is applied to any individual from any racial background
-to give something then want it back
Indian summer -referencing the Native American disregard for finish (due)dates
Indian Time -no regard to scheduled time or appointments examples late to work, start the meeting late
Indian Song One Little, Two Little , Three Little Indians……
Geronimo -war cry-   a cry to say before doing something dangerous
Let’s Powwow -Let’s talk-   Let’s party
Low or high on the totem pole -used to describe something or someone importance or aptitude
Prairie Nigger -A Native American Indian – Lakota
Rez Car -used to describe a beat up, old, car. Insinuates that a car in this condition would belong to an American Indian on a reservation.
Savage fierce, ferocious, or cruel; untamed: savage beasts.

uncivilized; barbarous: savage tribes.

enraged or furiously angry, as a person.

unpolished; rude: savage manners.

wild or rugged, as country or scenery: savage wilderness.

Squaw -offensive term referring to an Indian woman’s vaginal area
Sitting Indian Style -Sitting cross legged
The Natives are Restless -refers to people who can’t sit still and focus –   refers to people getting ready to fight
Timber Nigger -refers to Native American tribe of Ojibwa
Too many Chiefs and not enough Indian Phrase used to claim there are too many bosses, not enough workers, but also used to lament the over-education of the “masses,” who should realize their place. Usually uttered by yuppies or their parents, quite confident that no one in their circle will end up a mere “Indian.”
Wild Indians – refers to children who are out of control
Wandering Off the Reservation -refers to leaving one’s comfort zone. “I didn’t want to wander off the reservation.” Implies that American Indians have more discomfort leaving their homes (or locality) than any other heritage.
Indian Poker A game where a card is drawn, players are to not look at it and then lick it and stick it to the forehead, and try to guess the card. Whoever had the highest card won the round.

Hispanic, Mexican, Latino

Beaner -derogatory term for someone of Latino/Latina descent
Brazil Nuts -refers to waxed male genital area (
Mexican Bath or Puerto Rican Overhaul Not bathing but putting on deodorant
Mexican Chrome Duck Tape
Little Mexico -Hispanic, Latino of Mexican ghetto, neighborhood or low income area
Spic -a person of Hispanic descent-   term perceived as very offensive if used by person other than Latino descent in any context-   derivation (1) no spik English, (2) from sprig in turn from spiggoty (3) Common belief abbreviation from of Hispanic although probably an anachronism.
Wetback -derogatory term for a person who has immigrated illegally into the US. –   Commonly referring to Mexicans who have swam or waded across the Rio Grande River to enter the US illegally therefore getting their back wet.
Mexi Pack When one loads up a car, for instance a 4-door sedan with 5 seats, so that there is a minimum of 8 people in the car. The more the Mexi-er. (


Chunky Too much weight
Eat a Sandwich derogatory remark directed toward people who are super skinny
Fatty Too much weight
Gordo Spanish word meaning fat
Porker Too much weight
200 Pounder Too much weight


Jewbag A slur for Jewish people
Getting Jewed, Jew down -refers to stereotype that people of the Jewish faith are tight with their money-   If a person is ‘jewed’ they are outsmarted by someone who is better with money than you are
Hip Hip Hooray! The phrase was originally “hep hep hoorah” and it was shouted by Nazis raiding Jewish communities as during the Hep Hep Riot of 1890 that destroyed Jewish homes and buildings. “Hep” is likely an acronym for Hierosolyma est perdita,” which means “Jerusalem has fallen” in Latin.
Heebie Jeebies -“Heebs” = Hebrew or Jewish, heebie jeebies meaning to feel uncomfortable by someone or something
JAP -abbreviation for Jewish American Princess-   meaning affluent spoiled Jewish women-   Stuck up and spoiled females of any age  does not have to Jewish may be used to describe any female persons behavior
Jew Fro -hairstyle worn by people of jewish descent. It consists of curly hair and is often large.
Jew town -reference to a Jewish ghetto-   reference to an area where there is a large population of Jewish people
Jewed -Cheated or outsmarted in a business deal
Pizza -refers to the way those of Jewish faith were placed in ovens to be killed.
St. Jewish Park -Refers to the predominant population of Jewish people in St. Louis Park MN a first ring suburb of Minneapolis
Kike -a Jewish person-   derived from kikel Yiddish word meaning circle –   Immigrant Jews signed legal documents with an O (similar to X)
“That’s jewish” It was very common for students at our high school to say “that’s jewish” when they meant something was stupid.

Toxic Words Pertaining to Anyone

Above ground and out of jail –   refers to someone who is still alive and not in jail that continue on with their life
Airhead –   refers to people who are not smart-   suggests head are full of air
Bag -to get someone to sleep with you
-refers to someone you would only sleep with if they had a bag over their head
Basket Case -This saying originated during WW1 and referred to a soldier who had lost all his limbs. The basket referred to the way the person was transported.
Bastard -a term that refers to someone with an illegitimate father. Used as “lazy” bastard often times.
Bitch -a critical reference to females-   referring to female canines who accept any male suitors and are very grouchy
Cake Eaters Those of a higher socioeconomic status
Coconut -refers to a person of Pacific Islander descent
Crack head -a person on crack
-a moron
Cunt -offensive word-   refers to genitals – vagina-   woman of low morals and intelligence
Dinks -Couple with income and no kids
Dirka Dirka -mocking term towards Middle Eastern descent people and the way they speak
Do me a solid -Help out a friend. (
Don’t drink the kool-aid -meaning don’t give into something or believe everything you hear
-derogatory towards those that were part of the Jamestown Massacre, who were lead to their suicide by drinking “kool-aid” laced with cyanide. (
Dork or Dweeb -referring to someone who is intelligent and may have interests pertaining to school or studying.  Also can be interchanged with nerd or four-eyes.
Douche bag, D-Bag, Douche -a critical reference to males
Drunken Sailor


-refers to the drinking behaviors of men in the Naval branch of the armed forces when they are on leave-   drunkenness
EMO -a subculture of teens that are described as full of angst and turmoil
FOB (Fresh off the boat) -refers to recent immigrants and insinuates a lack of common sense
Geez or Jeez -Derivative of Jesus.
Getting gypped or jipped -comes from gypsy-   meaning someone who is trying to take advantage of another person or cheat them
Ghetto -term that is used to describe something that is bad or poor such as an area, neighborhood or behavior
Grow a pair -telling someone that they should get up the guts to do something
Gyp or Gypped or Jipped -refers to gypsy who through stereotype are considered thieves and dishonest, cheaters
Homey/hood/Holmes -a friend from your demographic neighborhood-   someone from the same gang
Lame -just plain stupid, un-original, or lifeless. Barbed wire tattoos, butterflies, and tribal tattoos are lame, they say a lot about the person who gets them. (
Like a Girl -negative term used to denote anything that is done with less skill especially physical aptitude-   Example such as when a male throws a ball like a girl
Man up -telling someone to be brave
Mental when something is crazy
Mighty Whita Ya -racist and white supremacy attitude that nice things are done for others by white people.
Pasta Puttanesca “in the style of the whore”

refers to an actual dish,  a sauce invented and made by prostitutes, it is said that pasta puttanesca was designed to lure customers with its aroma.

Queer -a person who is not “right” or mentally imbalanced in some way-   a person who is gay or lesbian
Right-Hand Man -referring to a person who sits beside someone powerful and is useful to that person.  Referring to slavery or a servant
Retard, Tard -originally a term used to identify a person who is mentally challenged or developmentally delayed
Ring Around the Rosy -song about children dying of the bubonic plague
Rule of Thumb The actual meaning was derived when men could beat their wives and children with a switch as long as it was not any larger than their thumb.
Schmuck -metaphorical meaning: a prick, an asshole, etc (
Screwed -To be in serious trouble.
– A word describing something in a state of disrepair.
– A word to describe a person who is heavily under the influence of alcohol and/or narcotic material, to an extent where it affects their behavioral patterns.
-describes someone who just had sex
-the position that is a result of a problem or bad situation that seems impossible to solve/get out of (
Senior Moment -refers to senior citizens as absent minded, forgetful, dementia
Shaggin Wagon -Derivative of, Love Wagon, which usually refers to a VW Camper. (
Short Bus/Tard Cart/Sped Sled -Refers to slow thinking, someone not as bright- as in the rode the shorter bus to school usually reserved for students who have special needs.
Stinker – Australian slang, dishonourable, disgusting, or objectionable person; 2. something difficult, as a task, problem, etc.; 3. very hot and humid day

– A man who is charming, magnetic and often manipulative. Women’s clothes fly off for a stinker and men will follow him into battle because he is just that cool. A stinker rarely gets caught with his hand in the cookie jar, but if he does, an intoxicating look or a clever remark gets him off scot free.

Such a Pussy -similar to like a girl-   meant as a derogatory statement of calling someone – a male out as a feminine
That’s Ghetto -some situation or behavior that has lower class or poverty tendencies
That’s Retarded/ That’s Gay/ That’s Crazy/ That’s Mental/That’s psycho/ He/She is bipolar -some situation or behavior that refers to lower mental capacity

-being dumb or stupid

Tracks -refers to “Wrong side of the tracks” indicating people from the poor side of town
Trailer Trash -refers to people who live in a trailer home and presumably have less money and/or live in poverty-   Also the name of a Twin Cities band
Tree-Huggers – people who are active in the environmental movement
USA Chanted to mean “You Suck Ass”
Wife-Beater T-Shirt -an article of clothing worn by someone who lives in a trailer and beats his spouse or significant other
Whoring Around /Hoe/skank/skeet/hoochie -a person who engages in sexual activity in exchange for money-   sexual promiscuity  or suspected by the way the person dresses
Window Licker -a mentally handicapped person who licks the windows of the “short bus” (see above)
Your Mom Term used when you can’t think of anything else to say. Usually funny, although some people find it offensive. It usually doesn’t make any sense. (
Yuppie -Young Urban Professional or young upwardly mobile professional-   characteristics include self-reliant, financially secure, well educated, individualists


Andrew Bocchi Feb 14, 2011 6:04 PM

I believe that something is only offensive if somebody is offended. While it is true that there are some outdated sayings out there that offend certain people, I feel that more often than not, the offense was unintentional.

Language is a living entity, which, like any living thing, evolves over time. Thus, old words tend to acquire alternative meanings. The offensive words in these old sayings become synonyms for something else, and the word gradually becomes disassociated from its original definition.