Ofaginzy redux

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at YAHOO.COM
Fri Mar 30 18:18:57 UTC 2007

I'm away from HDAS today, but surely the cited remark about "literary distribution" should refer to the baroque "ofaginzy" rather than the once common "ofay."

  My impression is that "ofaginzy," like so many exotic-looking slang terms, was never much used by anybody. In this case, IIRC, NY and Chicago jazz musicians of the '40s were the primary culprits.

  I wonder of the word was partially based on "guinzo, ginzo," an Italian.


  "Douglas G. Wilson" <douglas at NB.NET> wrote:
  ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
Sender: American Dialect Society
Poster: "Douglas G. Wilson"
Subject: Re: Ofaginzy redux

I have found one reference which gives a pronunciation for "ofaginzy". It
is an English-Chinese on-line dictionary apparently produced by and for


The pronunciation is given as "OH-fuh-jinzy" OR "oh-FAY-jinzy". Took me a
while to decipher the weird phonetic symbols.

How did the authors of the site find these pronunciations? Are they
reliable at all? I don't know.

[The translation seems reasonable: something like "American slang (black
persons' word): white person(s)" according to my primitive understanding.]

-- Doug Wilson

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