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Five Terms You Might Not Know Are Considered Racist


Some argue, though, that the term doesn’t put down Natives but the Europeans who settled in America and reneged on the promises they’d made to the indigenous peoples they encountered. No matter which camp you’re in, is it really worth the time and energy to get into a debate about the etymology of “Indian giver.” Since the term is considered culturally insensitive, it’s best to set it aside—no matter who it really aimed to insult.


"Gypped" is arguably the most commonly used racist term in existence today. If someone buys a used car that turns out to be lemon, for instance, he’s likely to complain, “I got gypped.” So, why is the term offensive? Because it equates the Gypsy, or Roma peoples, with being thieves, cheats and con artists. When someone says that they “got gypped,” they are essentially saying that they were conned.

Explained Jake Bowers, editor of Travellers Times, to British newspaper the Telegraph: “Gypped is an offensive word, it’s derived from Gypsy and it’s being used in the same context as a person might once have said they ‘jewed’ somebody if they did an underhand business transaction.” But don’t take Bowers’ word for it. If you’re still debating whether or not to use the verb “gypped,” consider that Philip Durkin, principal etymologist at the Oxford English Dictionary told the Telegraph that there’s “scholarly consensus” that the word originated as a “racial slur.”

Jew Down

While explaining why the term “gypped” is offensive to British paper the Telegraph, editor Jake Bowers compared use of the term to another offensive expression--“jewed.” Traditionally at flea markets and garage sales, pretty much any place where sales price is negotiable, it was common to hear references to someone “jewing down” the cost of something. The term is offensive because it plays on the stereotype that Jewish people are tightwads who are so good at haggling they can easily talk someone into selling something for less than the asking price. Today, it’s uncommon to hear younger generations using the term, but the elderly may still use it, as it didn’t raise eyebrows in the past.

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