[Ads-l] instance of "gook" 1907

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM
Thu Nov 14 14:47:25 UTC 2019

I'd very much like to see MW's 1901 ex. as an ethnic slur. The earliest
HDAS ex. (applied to Haitians by U.S. Marines) is from 1921:

1921 _Brooklyn Daily Eagle_ (May 1) 22: “The Marines keep the bandits on
the hop. The gooks only venture into the plains now when their spies tell
them that the Marines are not in the neighborhood,” said Sergeant

The word had some currency early in the 20th century as a synonym of
"freakish person" or "dolt." (Cf. "geek."):

1911 _Charlotte News_ (Jan. 20) 1: Have you noticed this is the same gook
who asked last summer "Is it hot enough for you?”

Filipinos were referred to as "googoos" during the 1899-1902 war, and later
as "googs." Ethnic "gook" presumably conflates freakish "gook" with
dark-skinned "googoo." (Cf. also pop hit, "Just Because She Made Dem
Goo-Goo Eyes" [1901].")


On Thu, Nov 14, 2019 at 8:08 AM Amy West <medievalist at w-sts.com> wrote:

> This is probably a distractor/nonce usage, but today's Upside Down World
> of Gustave Verbeek on Go Comics shows a strip of his from 1907 where
> there's an imaginary creature called a "gook" and limerick describing it:
> https://www.gocomics.com/upside-down-world-of-gustave-verbeek/2019/11/14
> Don't know if this is already in someone's files somewhere.
> MW gives 1901 as the date for the ethnic slur, and OED gives 1935
> (citing American Speech), so while it may not be an interdating because
> of the different referent, it may still be of interest, showing that the
> referent wasn't as fixed yet, still susceptible of taking other
> referents? I dunno . . .
> ---Amy West
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

"If the truth is half as bad as I think it is, you can't handle the truth."

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

More information about the Ads-l mailing list