Your inability to stop using the N-word aside (seriously, it’s not funny nor cool and it’s definitely not made “okay” because you have a Black friend or significant other), there are other words that you throw around casually that have racist origins. As language grows, it changes. This means that people have forgotten the racist roots of these words and phrases. It’s not your fault that you didn’t know about these words and phrases true origins, but the best way to fix such horrific language is to stop using it. Plain and simple. The best way to better yourself is to educate yourself. Frankly, etymology is quite fascinating (so says the English major). There’s no shortage of these words and phrases, so come; sit beside me and learn something new.
1. Peanut Gallery
This phrase today refers to unwelcome comments and criticism from onlookers. However, that’s not how this phrase originally came into popular usage. During segregation-era vaudeville shows, the “peanut gallery” refered to the cheap balcony section where black patrons were restricted to.
A word that describes a cruel and violent person, this word was used in Ancient Greece as a term that referred to anyone who didn’t speak the Greek language. While this was certainly a long time ago, it only proves that cultural superiority is a recurring theme across civilizations.
To be “gypped” means to be ripped off. However, this is an offensive verb is most certainly a reference to “Gypsy,” the derogatory name given to the Rroma people. Use of this verb categorizes the Rroma people as thieves and swindlers, so stop using the word.
When you use this word, most of the time you’re talking about a crazy group of kids who are up to no good. But did you know that this word actually refers to Irish people. It was first used in a British newspaper to describe the Houlihan family, a group of Irish immigrants who liked to party – a lot.
5. “Hip, Hip, Hooray!”
An innocent phrase used to celebrate even more innocent events? Of course not. The phrase was used by German citizens, beginning around 1819, as a rallying cry to hunt Jewish people in the Jewish ghettos.
At least you have the rest of the year to eliminate this one from your vocabulary before next Halloween. This word was first used in America during the eighteenth century to refer to people with black skin who supposedly blended into the night sky.
Defined officially as “self-important” or “arrogant,” this word was used by Southerners to refer to African-Americans who they deemed “didn’t know their place in society.”
8. “Off The Reservation”
This phrase is used to describe someone who has become potentially dangerous. However, this phrase was originally used to refer to a Native American who was not locked onto a reservation by the United States government. It’s f*cked up.
This word is derived from the Danish-borrowed Algonquin word, “ashkimeq,” which means “eaters of raw meat.” There has been additional research done that states it can also mean “snowshoe-netter.” Yes, let’s perceive an entire group of people be their supposed behaviors because that’s so the appropriate thing to do in 2015. If you didn’t hear the sarcasm in my voice in that last sentence, here is your wake-up call.
This word is an accusatory one. By using it, you’re accusing a person of being a Bulgarian sodomite. It originated from the Bogomils, a religious sect in the Middle Ages that were called Bulgarus. After being passed around in numerous languages, the word evolved into the modern “bugger.”