English everyday – racist words

Did you know it’s offensive to use the word Jap to refer to Japanese people? It might seem like a useful shorter word but actually it’s now considered offensive.

There is a long list of ‘ethnic slurs’ on Wikipedia that shows many words that are offensive about people’s nationality or ethnicity or race.

So these are some words that you shouldn’t use. They are offensive because they judge people by their skin colour, but you still might hear them in the UK:

Chink or ching chong – used about Chinese people, or who look Chinese.

Nigger – used about Black people.

Paki – used about people from Pakistan or the Indian sub-continent.

Towel head or raghead – often used about Arab, Muslim or Sikh people, or people who traditionally wear a head scarf or covering.

Coloured – these days it’s more common to say A person of colour.

Nicknames that are used about other nationalities, these are not so offensive, but are impolite to use.

Paddy – used about Irish people.

Jock or Jimmy – used about Scottish people.

Taffy – used about Welsh people.

Frog – used about French people

Kraut – used about German people

Yank – used about people from the USA.


Published by Abbie

English teacher, coach and writer. Helping English learners and teachers get more confident in their skills.

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