Racist Phrases People Still Use Today


At the height of segregation in the US, Southerners used “uppity” to describe blacks who didn’t know their socioeconomic place. Although originally the term started within the black community, racists adopted it pretty quickly

Paddy wagons

Today, ‘paddy wagon’ means a garda car.

Unsurprisingly ‘Paddy’ originated in the late 1700s as a shortened form of ‘Patrick,’ and then later a term for any Irishman. ‘Wagon’ naturally refers to a vehicle. ‘Paddy wagon’ either stemmed from the large number of Irish police officers or the perception that rowdy, drunken Irishmen constantly ended up in the back of police cars.


You may be shocked to know that when you, or your mother, refer to someone as a ‘bugger’, you are accusing them of being a Bulgarian sodomite. Yep, you read that right. How embarrassing for you. The term stemmed from the Bogomils, who led a religious sect during the Middle Ages called ‘Bulgarus.’ Through various languages and decades, the term morphed into “bugger.” 

The Bogomils were considered to have approached sex in an ‘inverse way.’ In Hungarian, a related word still means a slur for homosexual men.


Once again a phrase used liberally by Irish people, yet is actually an insult to Irish people. This phrase started appearing in London newspaper around 1898. The Oxford Online Dictionary speculates it evolved from the fictional surname, “Houlihan,” included in a popular pub song about a rowdy Irish family.

Other sources, like Clarence Rook’s book, ‘The Hooligan Nights’ claim that Patrick Houlihan actually existed. He was a bouncer and a thief in Ireland

Either way, somewhere an Irish family landed a bad reputation. 

Eenie meenie miney moe

A lot of Irish people reading this list will now be doing some sort of face palm, as memories flood in of the many a playground game begun by this horrible rhyme. The rhyme goes as follows:

Eenie, meenie, miney, moe / Catch a tiger by the toe / If he hollers let him go / Eenie, meenie miney, moe

This modern, unoffensive version comes from a similar, older one, where n***er replaces tiger. 


Though steeped in controversy, this first part of this phrase might relate to the Hep Hep Riots — anti-Semitic demonstrations started in Germany in the 19th century. Nazis reportedly cheered “hep hep” as they forced Jews from their homes across Europe. 

“Hep” is likely an acronym for “Hierosolyma est perdita” which means “Jerusalem has fallen” in Latin. The Crusaders may have used this as a battle cry, although little proof exists. Or German shepherds or hunters may have used “hep hep” as a traditional command to rally trained dogs.

Find out what other words were on the list here;

Offensive Phrases


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