"Wop" in 1908?

Charles Doyle cdoyle at UGA.EDU
Thu Apr 29 16:32:42 UTC 2010

Joseph Wiengarten, _American Dictionary of Slang_ (1954), gives as a second sense of of the term 'the Italian language', with the date (arrived at how?) 1915.


---- Original message ----
>Date: Thu, 29 Apr 2010 12:05:03 -0400
>From: American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU> (on behalf of Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM>)
>Subject: Re: "Wop" in 1908?-------------------------------------------------------
>Great work, Doug.
>You've noticed that none of these early exx. (or later ones for decades) say
>anything like, "so called from the phrase 'Without Papers/Passport.'"
>Opinion: the ety. from It. dial _guappo_ is correct. Its orig. aplication by
>Italian-Americans to other Italian-Americans led non-Italians to refocus the
>meaning. Hence the rapid demise of the more general English sense.
>However, the unpub. HDAS files show the word occasionally being applied to
>various European nationalities (incl. Poles and Germans) into
>the 1990s.
>Jack London wrote in 1913 (with ref. to 1898): "I was trying to get work as
>wop, lumper, and roustabout."
>Berry & Van den Bark (1942) list "wop" as a 'section hand.'" The
>meaning fits superficially, but I believe it to be an error. (Track it on GB
>and see what I'm talking about.) London seems to be referring to
>day-laborers' jobs: the kind, of course, often filled at the time by Italian
>On Thu, Apr 29, 2010 at 3:23 AM, Douglas G. Wilson <douglas at nb.net> wrote:
>> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
>> -----------------------
>> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>> Poster:       "Douglas G. Wilson" <douglas at NB.NET>
>> Subject:      Re: "Wop" in 1908?
>> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>> Probably related to "Wop" and/or to its etymon:
>> ----------
>> _The Evening World_ (New York NY), 9 May 1907: p. 3:
>> <<Maybe Roberto Fiaza Nobi thought that he could impress the Magistrate
>> in Ewen Street Police Court by claiming to be a count. Nevertheless he
>> was charged with following and annoying a young girl on the street, and
>> his name might as well have been Tony Woppo for all the good his title
>> did him.>>
>> ----------
>> _The Sun_ (New York NY), 28 Aug. 1906: p. 5:
>> <<[title] SNITCHER IN THE WAPPO GANG / .... / If Blinky Loretto, leader
>> of the Wappo gang, down on Cherry Hill, had only been wise to the
>> snitcher he wouldn't be doing his latest "bit" in the Catholic
>> Protectory. .... / .... When Dago Pete Bascino was admitted to
>> membership in the gang early in the summer nobody had the faintest idea
>> that he would ever squeal on the mob. Although Blinky is only 10 years
>> old, ....>>
>> [some miscellanous slang in this item, including "spiel off yer best
>> Ginnie" which I suppose means "speak your best Italian" (when selling
>> stolen books to Italian-speaking locals)]
>> ----------
>> -- Doug Wilson

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

More information about the Ads-l mailing list