AskDefine | Define gook

Dictionary Definition



1 any thick messy substance [syn: sludge, slime, goo, guck, gunk, muck, ooze]
2 a disparaging term for an Asian person (especially for North Vietnamese soldiers in the Vietnam War) [syn: slant-eye]

User Contributed Dictionary


Etymology 1

Origin unknown.


  1. In the context of "US|slang|vulgar|pejorative": A person from East or Southeast Asia, in particular a Vietnamese, Filipino, Japanese, Korean person.
Dictionary notes
  • According to Random House Unabridged Dictionary, "a native of Southeast Asia or the South Pacific, esp. when a member of an enemy military force. any dark-skinned foreigner, esp. one from the Middle East."
  • According to Princeton University Dictionary, it described as "a disparaging term for an Asian person. (especially for North Vietnamese soldiers in the Vietnam War)."
  • According to Online Etymology Dictionary, "1899, U.S. military slang for 'Filipino' during the insurrection there, probably from a native word, or imitative of the babbling sound of their language to American ears (cf. barbarian). The term goo-goo eyes 'soft, seductive eyes' was in vogue c.1900 and may have contributed to this somehow. Extended over time to 'Nicaraguan,' 'any Pacific Islander' (World War II), 'Korean' (1950s), 'Vietnamese' and 'any Asian' (1960s)."
  • According to The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, "Used as a disparaging term for a person of East Asian birth or descent. Perhaps alteration of earlier goo-goo, native inhabitant of the Philippines, Pacific islander."
  • In the US, gook refers particularly to a Vietnamese person in the context of the Vietnam War, and particularly to the Viet Cong. It is generally considered highly offensive, on a par with nigger. In a highly charged and nuanced incident, Senator John McCain famously used the word publicly to refer specifically to his former captors, then apologized in deference to the Vietnamese community at large. See
  • Folk etymology suggests that during the Korean War, young Korean children would point at US soldiers and shout "미국" (mee-gook), the Korean word for "America". Soldiers heard the word as "Me Gook", as if the children were defining themselves as "Gooks." The soldiers proceeded to use that term to refer to the Koreans. The word 국 (國, gook) itself simply means "country"; 미국 (mee-gook) meaning beautiful country, and 한국 (Hangook) meaning Korean Country. However, this claim is unclear.
derogatory slur for Asian people

Etymology 2

Possible blend of goop and gunk.


  1. Grime or mud
Derived terms

See also

Extensive Definition

The following is a list of ethnic slurs that are, or have been, used as insinuations or allegations about members of a given ethnicity or to refer to them in a derogatory (critical or disrespectful), pejorative (disapproving or contemptuous), or insulting manner in the English-speaking world. For the purposes of this list, an ethnic slur is a term or word[s] used to insult on the basis of race, ethnicity, or nationality. Each term is listed followed by its country or region of usage, a definition, and a reference to that term (unless a well-referenced Wikipedia article exist).
Quite a few ethnic slurs may be produced by combining a general-purpose insult with the name of ethnicity, such as "dirty Arab", "dirty Jew", "Chinese pig", "Russian pig", etc. Other common insulting modifiers include "dog", "filthy", etc. Such terms are not included in this list.



;ABCD : (Subcontinentals in U.S.) "American-Born Confused Desi", used to imply that an American-born South Asian is confused about their cultural identity. ABCD is the most common version of the phrase, but there are variations of it that extend all the way to the letter 'z' in at least two different versions: "American Born Confused Desi, Emigrated From Gujarat, House in Jersey, Kids Learning Medicine, Now Owning Property, Quite Reasonable Salary, Two Uncles Visiting, White Xenophobia Yet Zestful" and "American Born Confused Desi, Emigrated From Gujarat, Housed In Jersey, Keeping Lotsa Motels, Named Omkarnath Patel, Quickly Reached Success Through Underhanded Vicious Ways, Xenophobic Yet Zestful";Afro-Saxon : (North America) A young white male devotee of African-American pop culture.;Albino : (U.S.) A term for whites, also a derogatory term for light skinned blacks used by darker skinned blacks. (see colorism) ;Alter kacker / alter kocker (Yiddish) / alter kucker / A.K. : (North America) a disparaging term for elderly Jewish people. The term is of Yiddish origin (literally meaning old shitter). First used in the early 1900s.;Anglo-pilferer: An Anglo-Australian possibly of convict lineage. Based on the belief that all Anglo-Australians are descended from convicts. Particularly offensive.;Ape : (U.S.) a black person.;Argie : (UK) a native of Argentina (also Argie-bargie : any argument, disagreement, or (typically) sporting event involving Argentina or Argentinians), used by the British press during the Falklands War. Coined by Britain's The Sun newspaper in 1982. ;Aunt Jemima / Aunt Jane / Aunt Mary / Aunt Sally / Aunt Thomasina : (U.S.) a black woman who "kisses up" to whites, a "sellout", female counterpart of Uncle Tom.


According to The Historical Dictionary of American Slang, the word was first seen in print in 1965, although the term has reportedly been in use at least since the 1940s (perhaps having evolved from previous slurs such as "bean-eater" and "bean-bandit" that were in use since as far back as the 1910s.);Bohunk : (North America) a person of east-central European descent. Originally referred to those of Bohemian(now Czech Republic) descent. Was commonly used toward Ukrainian immigrants during the early 20th century.;Boonga / boong / bunga / boonie : (New Zealand) a Pacific Islander [alteration of boong].;Brownie : (U.S.) a. a person of mixed white and black ancestry; a mulatto. b. (U.S.) a young, brown-skinned person 1940s-1950s:b. (U.S.) a young, brown-skinned person 1940s-1950s


;CBCD : (Subcontinentals in Canada) - Canadian-Born Confused Desi - Similar to ABCD, but used for Canadian-born South Asians who are confused about their cultural identity.;Charlie : (North America) a mildly derogatory term used by African Americans, mainly in the 1960s and 1970s, to refer to a white person (from James Baldwin's novel, Blues For Mr. Charlie). The same word was also a generally non-pejorative slang term used by American troops during the Vietnam War as a short-hand term for Vietnamese guerrillas: it was shortened from "Victor Charlie", the NATO phonetic alphabet for Viet Cong, or VC.;Chee-chee : a Eurasian half-caste [probably from Hindi chi-chi fie!, literally, dirt];Cheese-eating surrender monkey : (UK and US) A Frenchman, from the perceived proclivity of the French to surrender in military confrontations and the huge variety of French cheeses available.;Chink : (U.S. and UK) used to refer to people of perceived Chinese descent, and by extension for other East Asians. Considered extremely derogatory, although at least one US school proudly used the term as a sports mascot until the 1980s.;Cholo : (Latin American Spanish, USA) used to refer to people of perceived amerindian descent. It may be derogatory depending on circumstances. Peruvian president Alejandro Toledo was nicknamed "el Cholo".;Coolie : (North America) unskilled Asian labor, usually Chinese (originally used in 19th-century for Chinese railroad labor). Possibly from Hindi/Telugu kuli, day laborer. Also racial epithet for Indo-Caribbean people, especially in Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago and South African Indians, where it is considered on par with "nigger".;Coonass, or Coon-ass: (U.S.) a person of Cajun ethnicity.;Crow : a black person, spec. a black woman.;Curry-muncher : (Africa, New Zealand) a person of East Indian origin.


;Darky : noun. Used as a disparaging term for a black person.;Dink: an Asian, esp. a Vietnamese. Also used as a disparaging term for a North Vietnamese soldier or guerrilla in the Vietnam War. Origin: 1965–70, Americanism; cf. Australian slang dink Chinese person; perh. back formation from dinky, reinforced by rhyme with Chink;Dune coon : (US) Derogatory term used for Arabs and other peoples of the Middle East.. Popularised in David O. Russell's movie about Gulf War I Three Kings (1999).



;Flip : (Western World) A derogatory term for Filipinos.;Fritz : (UK, France, Hungary ("fricc"), Poland [Fryc], Russia [фриц] ) a German [from Friedrich (Frederick)].


;Gin : (AUS) an Aboriginal woman.;Ginzo : (U.S.) an Italian-American.:* According to Random House Unabridged Dictionary, "a native of Southeast Asia or the South Pacific, esp. when a member of an enemy military force. any dark-skinned foreigner, esp. one from the Middle East."
  • According to Princeton University Dictionary, it described as "a disparaging term for an Asian person (especially for North Vietnamese soldiers in the Vietnam War)." or someone who does not practice Judaism; The Hebrew and Yiddish word goy (plural: גוים, goyim) means "nation" or "people". The word is used over 550 times in the Hebrew Bible referring to both the Israelites and non-Israelites, when referencing an entire nation.;Greaseball: (US) a person of Italian descent. Or rarely, a person of Hispanic descent.;Gub, Gubba : (AUS) Aboriginal pejorative term for white people;Gyppo, gippo, gypo, gyppie, gyppy, gipp : (UK) a. A Gypsy (see below). b. (UK and Australian military) Egyptians, sometimes used affectionately, but "bloody Gyppo" was a term of abuse.


;Haole : (US, Hawaiian) A non-native, used by Hawaiians mainly to refer to whites (less commonly to refer to non-Hawaiians.. In contemporary Hawaii, the term Haole can be used descriptively to mean caucasians in terms of race, or can be used negatively or as a racial epithet, though some people take it to always be insulting, it has various meanings depending upon use context.;Heeb, Hebe: (U.S.) offensive term for a Jewish person, derived from the word "Hebrew".;Honky also spelled "honkey" or "honkie" : (1) (U.S.) An offensive term for a white person. Derived from an African-American pronunciation of "hunky", the disparaging term for a Hungarian laborer. The first record of its use as an insulting term for a white person dates from the 1950s. Also used in the British Commonwealth with less derogatory implications.;Hun : (U.S. and U.K.) A derogatory term for Germans, especially German soldiers; popular during World War I. Also an offensive term for a Protestant


;Ikey-mo / ikeymo : a Jew [from Isaac and Moses];Inkface : a black person.


;Jigaboo, jiggabo, jigarooni, jijjiboo, zigabo, jig, jigg, jiggy, jigga, jigger : (U.S. and UK) a black person (JB) with stereotypical Black features (e.g. dark skin, wide nose, and big lips).;Jock, jocky, jockie : (UK) A Scottish person, dialect form of personal name John. Occasionally used by the English as an insult.but also in respectful reference to elite Scottish, particularly Highland troops, e.g. the 9th (Scottish) Division. Same vein as the English insult for the French, as Frogs.


;Kike or kyke : (U.S.) a Jew. From kikel, Yiddish for "circle". Immigrant Jews signed legal documents with an "O" (similar to an "X").



;Mack, Mick, Mickey, Mickey Finn : a. (Britain, Commonwealth and U.S.) an Irish person or a person of Irish descent. Mick is considered more offensive in the U.K. and U.S.. From the prefix "Mc"/"Mac" meaning "son of" that is commonly found in Irish surnames. b. (Australia) a Roman Catholic [19th century on, from Michael]. ;Mock / moch : (U.S.) a Jew [first used in the 1960s as an abbreviated form of mocky (qv)];Monkey : (UK) a black person. Also used by white people in Southeast Asia to describe local people.


;Nig-nog : (UK) a black person. - note alternative original mildly derogatory meaning in the UK: "a novice; a foolish or naive person"
Nigger has since taken a dual meaning. Depending on the context and locale, its interpretation can range from being deeply disparaging to acknowledging kinship or closeness. The latter interpretation, and its proliferation in late 20th century pop culture among some African-Americans, has led to the perception of the term nigger being acceptable and widely used within African-American communities between African-Americans. The usage between persons of the opposite race or non-blacks - especially when used by a white person towards a black person - is not as acceptable. The strife between pop culture and politically correct culture has led to attempts to avoid words with similar pronunciation - e.g. Niger, niggardly, and negro. Some use derivations such as nig, nigga, niggaz, and nizzle to reflect kinship while avoiding a direct pronunciation of nigger. This is seen as less offensive. Others completely avoid the usage outside of scholastics.
;Nip : (U.S.) A derogatory term for someone of Japanese descent (shortened version of Nipponese, from Japanese name for Japan, Nippon)



;Paki / Pakki: (Primarily UK and Canada, sometimes US, NZ and India) a South Asian. Within the UK, the term originates in Northern England, where a large number of South-Asians arrived in the 1950s and 1960s, and where they and their descendents have settled in cities such as Bradford and Leeds. It is usually considered offensive when used by a non-South Asian in the UK.;Pepper: (Canada) a French Canadian or French-speaking Québécois;Pocho / pocha : (Southwest U.S., Mexico) adjective: term for a person of Mexican heritage who is partially or fully assimilated into American culture (literally, "over-ripe"). (See also "Chicano");Pom, Pohm, Pommy, Pommie : (AUS/NZ/SA) a British (usually English) immigrant. Some claim it derives from "Prisoner of Mother England", but it probably derives from pomegranate, rhyming slang for "immigrant, jimmygrant, pommygrant". It is often used irreverently and is usually considered offensive. Many such migrants to Australia call themselves "ten pound poms", because they paid ten pounds for their passage to Australia between 1945 and 1972 under an assisted migration scheme. Often combined with an adjective, particularly whingeing pom, a reference to migrants who complained about their adopted country. Often used in a sporting (especially cricket and rugby) context, with liberal use of 'pom' and 'aussie' being used by the media; the term is often seen as unoffensive in this context, and instead as light-hearted banter.;Powder burn : (US) a black person.



;Redneck : prejudiced term applied to rural White Americans, especially those of the southern states; the term is thought to come either from the sunburned necks of farm laborers, or from the belief that they had some American Indian ancestry (cf. redskin). Since the 1990s it has become a popular term of self-reference in the South and lower Midwest, as in the song "Redneck Woman" and the "redneck test" routine of comedian and humor writer Jeff Foxworthy.;Roundeye : (English-speaking Asians) a white or non-Asian person.


;Sand nigger/Sand coon : (American) Derogatory term for an Arab person. ;Sawney : (England, archaic) - A Scottish person, local variant of Sandy, short for "Alexander".;Slanteyed : pejorative term for being of Far Eastern origin, a Chinese, Japanese, or Korean, derived from the term for those who have epicanthic folds;Smoked Irish / smoked Irishman : (U.S.) 19th century term for Blacks (intended to insult both Blacks and Irish).;Sooty : a black person [originated in the U.S. in the 1950s];Spaghetti Bender: (North America and UK) an Italian;Spic, spick, spik, spig, or spigotty : (U.S, U.K) a. a person of Hispanic descent, or a person of actual or presumed Puerto Rican origin whether or not of Hispanic descent. Use of the word is often perceived as extremely offensive if used by a person not of Latino descent in any context. Origin uncertain. First recorded use in 1915. Theories include from "no spik English" (and spiggoty from the Chicano no speak-o t'e English), but common belief is that it is an abbreviation of "Hispanic" b. the Spanish language.


;Taig (also Teague, Teg and Teig): a vitriolic slur used by loyalists in Northern Ireland for members of the nationalist/Catholic/Gaelic community.;Teapot : (British) A black person. [1800s];Tinker / tynekere / tinkere / tynkere, -are / tynker / tenker / tinkar / tyncar / tinkard / tynkard / tincker
a. (Britain and Ireland) an inconsequential person (typically lower class); (note that in Britain, the term "Irish Tinker" may be used, giving it the same meaning as example b.)
b. (Scotland and Ireland) a Gypsy [origin unknown - possibly relating to one of the 'traditional' occupations of Gypsies as travelling 'tinkerers' or repairers of common household objects]
c. (Scotland) a member of the native community previously itinerant (but mainly now settled) who were reputed for their production of domestic implements from basic materials and for repair of the same items, being also known in the past as "travelling tinsmiths". The slur is possibly derived from a reputation for rowdy and alcoholic recreation. Often wrongly confused with Gypsy/Romany people.;Towel head, also towelhead: a person of Arab descent or "a native of any race that wears a cloth covering on the head". Also rag head


;Wetback : (US) Used to describe Mexican illegal immigrants, who allegedly entered the country by swimming the Rio Grande. ;Whitey : A term for a white person, commonly used in a derogatory manner.;Wop : (North America and UK) A racial term for anyone of Italian descent, derived from the Italian dialectism "guappo", close to "dude" and other informal appellations.
;Yank : (UK) A term for an American, commonly used in a derogatory manner.

See also


  • John A. Simpson, Oxford Dictionary Of Modern Slang ISBN 0-19-861052-1
  • John A. Simpson, Oxford English Dictionary Additions Series ISBN 0-19-861299-0
  • Eric Partridge, A Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English, (2002)
  • Richard A. Spears, Slang and Euphemism, (2001)
  • Jonathon Green, The Cassell Dictionary of Slang (1998)
  • Bruce Moore (editor), The Australian Oxford Dictionary, (2004)
  • The New Oxford American Dictionary, second edition. Ed. Erin McKean. (Oxford University Press: 2005.
  • The Concise Oxford English Dictionary. Ed. Catherine Soanes and Angus Stevenson. (Oxford University Press: 2004)
  • G.A. Wilkes, A Dictionary of Australian Colloquialisms (Sydney: Fontana/Collins, 1978) ISBN 0 00 635719 9


gook in Spanish: Gentilicios xenófobos y coloquiales
gook in French: Maketo
gook in Russian: Национальные прозвища

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

American Indian, Amerind, Australian aborigine, Bushman, Caucasian, Indian, Malayan, Mister Charley, Mongolian, Negrillo, Negrito, Negro, Oriental, Red Indian, WASP, albumen, baloney, batter, bilge, black, black man, blackfellow, bonnyclabber, boy, brown man, burrhead, butter, cab, clabber, colored person, coon, cornstarch, crap, cream, curd, darky, dough, drivel, egg white, gaum, gel, gelatin, glair, glop, glue, gluten, goo, goop, gruel, gumbo, gunk, hogwash, honky, hooey, jam, jell, jelly, jigaboo, jungle bunny, loblolly, malarkey, molasses, mucilage, muck, mucus, nigger, niggra, ofay, paleface, pap, paste, porridge, pudding, pulp, puree, putty, pygmy, red man, redskin, rob, rot, semifluid, semiliquid, size, slant-eye, soup, spade, starch, sticky mess, syrup, the Man, trash, treacle, white, white man, whitey, yellow man
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