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Wop is a pejorative racial slur used primarily, but not exclusively, to refer to people from Italy.[1]

It originated between 1910 and 1915 in the United States. One famous etymology is that it stands for "without papers" or "without passport" (abbreviated WOP),[2] According to Merriam-Webster, its first known use was in 1908.[3] The commonly accepted etymology is that it originates from a southern Italian dialect term guappo, meaning swagger, derived from the Spanish term guapo, via dialectical French, meaning ruffian or pimp.[4] This also has roots in the Latin vappa, meaning wine gone flat.[3] This theory holds that the term was brought to the U.S. by early Southern Italian immigrants from the region of Campania, who named those suspected to belonging to the Guapparia "Guappi", in a similar fashion Sicilian people used the term "Mafiosi".[citation needed] Widely used in Chicago where most immigrants from Campania settled,[citation needed] it was confused by non-Italian people to indicate Southern Italians in general, like the word "paesano".

Although the history of the word wop is not entirely certain, it can be found in various forms throughout popular culture. One example is the bar fight scene in the film From Here to Eternity.[5] During the Watergate scandal, President Richard Nixon referred to United States District Court Judge John Sirica as a "gol' darn wop."[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Embury, Stuart P. (2006). "Chapter One: The Early Years". The Art and Life of Luigi Lucioni. Embury Publishing Company. pp. 1 -4.
  2. ^ "wop". Urban Dictionary. Retrieved September 4, 2013.
  3. ^ a b http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/wop
  4. ^ http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/wop
  5. ^ Peter Bondanella (2005). Hollywood Italians: Dagos, Palookas, Romeos, Wise Guys, and Sopranos. Continuum International Publishing Group. p. 36. ISBN 978-0-8264-1757-2. 
  6. ^ http://www.newspapers.com/newspage/11978612/