List of religious slurs

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The following is a list of religious slurs in the English language that are, or have been, used as insinuations or allegations about adherents of a given religion or to refer to them in a derogatory (critical or disrespectful), pejorative (disapproving or contemptuous), or insulting manner.


Bible beater 
A dysphemism for Christian fundamentalists[1] It is also a slang term for an evangelizing Christian fundamentalist.[2]
Bible thumper (also "Bible basher"; mainly US)
Someone perceived as aggressively imposing their Christian beliefs upon others. The term derives from preachers thumping their hands down on the Bible, or thumping the Bible itself, to emphasize a point during a sermon. The term's target domain is broad and can often extend to anyone engaged in a public show of religion, fundamentalist or not. The term is most commonly used in English-speaking countries.[3]
(US) Shortening of fundamentalist. Usually used to mean a Christian fundamentalist.[4]
God botherer (Australia, UK, New Zealand)
Predominantly tagged to a Christian, usually one who openly declares their faith,[5] even when unwelcome.


Bible basher 
(UK, Australia & New Zealand) a Protestant, particularly one from a Pentecostal or fundamentalist denomination, who believes in the fundamentalist authority of the Bible; also commonly used universally against Christians who are perceived to go out of their way to force their faith upon others.[6]
Holy Roller 
(US) an enthusiastic Protestant prone to rolling on the floor, suffering from fits or "speaking in tongues" (Pentecostals during worship or prayer). The term holy roller, however, is applied to some Evangelical Protestants, especially charismatics, if they are vocal about their own religious views or critical of individuals who do not meet their moral standards. Similar to Bible thumper.[7]
(Ireland/UK) a pro-British Ulster Protestant, referring to supporters of the Orange Order.[8]
Prod, proddy dog 
(Australian Catholics; Scottish and Irish Catholics (particularly school kids)) a Protestant, particularly a rival kid from a Protestant school. "Proddywhoddy" and "proddywoddy" are used in children's school rhymes in Cork.[9]
a Jehovah's Witness, from American religious leader Charles Taze Russell.[10][11]
(US) A member of the United Society of Believers in Christ's Second Appearing. Originated as "Shaking Quakers", in reference to their similarity to Quakers as well as their charismatic worship practices, which involved dancing, shouting, and speaking in tongues. The term was originally derogatory,[12][13] but very early on was embraced and used by the Shakers themselves.[14]
(Ireland) a person who has sold out their beliefs, referring to the Irish potato famine when some Catholics converted to a Protestant faith in order to gain access to a free meal.[15]
a very High Church Anglican or Anglo-Catholic.[16]
(US) White Anglo-Saxon Protestant, refers to an elite social class of powerful white Americans of British Protestant ancestry. Often used as a pejorative to attack WASP historical dominance over the financial, cultural, academic, and legal institutions of the United States

Roman Catholics[edit]

Creeping Jesus 
a derogative Hiberno-English term to describe a Roman Catholic seeking to make a public display of religiosity in a manner which seems hypocritical and simply for show.
(chiefly in Northern Ireland) a derogatory term to denote Catholics or Irish Nationalists.
(Especially Ireland and Scotland) an informal phrase for a Roman Catholic.[17]
Mackerel Snapper 
a Roman Catholic; the term originated in the U.S. in the 1850s and refers to the custom of Friday abstinence.[18] The Friday abstinence from meat (red meat and poultry) distinguishes Catholics from other Christians, especially in North America.[19]
(Australia; UK; USA) a Roman Catholic — usually Irish Catholic (a reference to the common "Mc'" patronymic of Irish surnames, or a hypocorism of Michael)[20]
(Northern Ireland and Scottish Protestants) a Roman Catholic person — usually Irish Catholic.[21]
A derogatory Northern English term for a Roman Catholic, nowadays somewhat dated.[22]
(Northern Ireland Protestants) a Catholic; from tadhg, Irish for "Timothy.".[23]


Abbie, Abe, and Abie
(North America) a Jewish male. From the proper name Abraham. Originated before the 1950s.[24]
Heeb, Hebe
(U.S.) offensive term for a Jew, derived from the word "Hebrew".[25][26]
A Jew, from the Hebrew Chaim ("life"). Also used in the term "Hymietown," a reference to New York, and in particular, Brooklyn, popularized by Jesse Jackson.[27]
Ikey, ike, ik
a Jew [from Isaac][28]
Ikey-mo, ikeymo
a Jew [from Isaac and Moses][28]
The Yiddish word for "circle" is kikel (/ˈkkəl/ KY-kəl)—Illiterate Jews who entered the United States at Ellis Island signed their names with a circle instead of a cross because they associated the cross with Christianity.[29][30]
Mocky,[31] moky, moxy, mockey, mockie, mocky
(U.S.) a Jew. First used in the 1930s, possibly from the Yiddish word makeh meaning "plague".[32]
(U.S.) a Jew [first used in the 1960s as an abbreviated form of mocky (q.v.)][28]
Red Sea pedestrian
(mainly Australian) a Jew, from the story of Moses leading the Jewish people out of Egypt.[33]
From Yiddish "shaine" or German "schön" meaning "beautiful."[34]
Comes from Shakespeare's play "Merchant of Venice".[35]
Yiddish word for Jew.[36]


Corruption of the word "Muslim".[37]
Quran thumper 
An excessively zealous Muslim.[38]
Hajji, Haji or Hodgie
Originated as military slang, now commonly used by non-military personnel to refer to Muslims or Middle Easterners in general. Originating from the word Hajji, an honorific title for Muslims who successfully completed the Hajj to Mecca.[39]
A term once frequently used in English, but nowadays considered by Muslims to be offensive because of the suggestion that they worship Mohammed rather than Allah.[40]
Raghead, Towelhead
From Islamic wearing of turbans.[41]
From Osama bin Laden.[41]


Towelhead, Raghead
(US) In reference to Sikh headgear (usually turbans), often used in the mistaken belief Sihks are connected to Islamic terrorism.[42] Also used against anyone wearing turbans or keffiyehs.[43]


Majoos (Magi)

Arabs and Muslims, especially Sunni Muslims, use slurs against Persians and Shiites by calling them "majoos" or "majus" (Arabic: مجوس) which means "fire worshippers", Zoroastrians or Magi.


a Scientologist, referring to a passage about clam engrams in L. Ron Hubbard's 1952 book, What To Audit, later renamed The History Of Man.[44][unreliable source?]

General non-believers[edit]

a term used by Muslims for non-Muslims. Also historically used by the Roman Catholic Church for any non-believer. [45]
Jack Mormon 
(Western U.S.) either a non-faithful LDS person or a non-Mormon altogether. Jack Mormon is usually used by non-Mormons to describe Mormons that do not follow the Word of Wisdom (dietary and health practices that exclude the use of tobacco or alcohol) and by Mormons to describe members that do not sufficiently follow practices. It is also used by Mormons to describe those who were Mormon but remain friendly to the Church. It may be applied to ex-Mormons who have repudiated the Church and its teachings but that is a rare usage.[46]
term used by the Muslims for unbelievers and disbelievers of Islamic monotheism.
A person who does not belong to a widely held religion (especially one who is not a Christian, Jewish, or Muslim) as regarded by those who do. Heathen is a term usually used to refer to Pagans, particularly those practicing Aboriginal or old European spiritualities.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Garner's Modern American Usage (3rd ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press, USA. 2009. p. 286. ISBN 0199888779. Retrieved 12 February 2015. 
  2. ^ Eble, Connie (1996). Slang & sociability in-group language among college students. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press. p. 157. ISBN 1469610574. Retrieved 12 February 2015. 
  3. ^ Gilbert, Robert E. (1 October 2008). "Ronald Reagan's Presidency: The Impact of an Alcoholic Parent". Political Psychology. 29 (5): 737–765. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9221.2008.00662.x. 
  4. ^ Shuy, Roger W. (2009). The Language of Defamation Cases. Oxford University Press. p. 81. ISBN 9780199742318. 
  5. ^ Green, Jonathon (2005). Cassel Dictionary of Slang. Sterling Publishing Company, Inc. p. 614. ISBN 978-0-304-36636-1. Retrieved 28 March 2013. 
  6. ^ Dalzell, Tom (2007). The Concise New Partridge Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English. London: Routledge. p. 51. ISBN 9780203962114. 
  7. ^ "roller, n1", definition 17b,[dead link] The Oxford English Dictionary (account required for online access). See also the sermon "Why I Am a Holy-Roller" by William Marrion Branham, August 1953.
  8. ^ Share, op. cit. p. 231.
  9. ^ Share, op. cit. p. 253.
  10. ^ "Russellite - Academic Dictionaries and Encyclopedias". Retrieved 12 February 2015. Russellite /rus"euh luyt'/, n. Offensive. a member of the Jehovah's Witnesses. [1875-80, Amer.; after C. T. Russell; see -ITE1] 
  11. ^ "russellite - Useful English Dictionary". Retrieved 12 February 2015. russellite \\ˈrəsəˌlīt\ noun (-s) Usage: usually capitalized Etymology: Charles Taze Russell died 1916 American religious leader + English -ite : one of the Jehovah's Witnesses — often taken to be offensive 
  12. ^ "Shaker Farms Country Club - Westfield, MA". Retrieved 2016-04-28. 
  13. ^ Paterwic, Stephen J. (2008-08-11). Historical Dictionary of the Shakers. Scarecrow Press. ISBN 9780810862555. 
  14. ^ ""Let us labor": The Evolution of Shaker Dance". Shaker Heritage Society. 2012-04-04. Retrieved 2016-04-28. 
  15. ^ Hughes, "Ireland" p. 78
  16. ^ The Chambers Dictionary, Edinburgh 1993, p. 1662
  17. ^ "Left-footer definition and meaning - Collins English Dictionary". Retrieved 23 September 2017. 
  18. ^ The New Partridge Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English p. 1250 (2005 Taylor & Francis)
  19. ^ Morrow, Maria C. (2016). "To Eat Meat or Not?: Paenitemini, The NCCB's Pastoral Statement, and the Decline of Penance". Sin in the Sixties: Catholics and Confession, 1955-1975. Washington DC: Catholic University of America Press. p. 182. ISBN 978-0-8132-2898-3. Retrieved 4 August 2017. So finally abstinence from meat on Friday became just a kind of badge of the fact we were Catholics 
  20. ^ Dalzell, Tom; Victor, Terry (2014). The Concise New Partridge Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English. Routledge. p. 514. ISBN 9781317625124. Retrieved 16 February 2015. 
  21. ^ Simpson, "papist" op. cit.; Share, op. cit. p. 237.
  22. ^ Bridgman, George Frederick Leslie (1962), The All England Law Reports Reprint: Being a Selection from the Law Times Reports, 1843-1935, retrieved 16 December 2013, At the meeting the appellant called Roman Catholics "rednecks," a name most insulting to them, and challenged them to get up. 
  23. ^ Simpson, "teague"
  24. ^ Spears, p. 1.
  25. ^ Madresh, Marjorie (28 May 2004). "Founder of 'Hip to be Heeb' magazine speaks to students". The Triangle Online. Archived from the original on 8 December 2010. Retrieved 14 February 2007. 
  26. ^ "Merriam-Webster Online definition of hebe". Retrieved 14 February 2007. 
  27. ^ Hymie, Eric Wolarsky, Rhetoric of Race Dictionary Project, College of New Jersey. Retrieved 6 November 2007.
  28. ^ a b c John A. Simpson, Oxford Dictionary Of Modern Slang ISBN 0-19-861052-1. "ikey", "ikeymo", "mock"
  29. ^ Encyclopedia of Swearing: Social History of Oaths, Profanity, Foul Language, and Ethnic Slurs in the English Speaking World/ Geoffrey Hughes. Armonk, N.Y. : M.E. Sharpe, c2006
  30. ^ Leo Rosten: The Joys of Yiddish, cited in Kim Pearson's Rhetoric of Race by Eric Wolarsky. The College of New Jersey.
  31. ^ "English contemporary dictionary - Mocky". Retrieved 12 February 2015. mocky adj. (Offensive slang) Jewish, of or pertaining to the Jewish religion or race in a derogatory manner 
  32. ^ Stevenson, Angus (2010). Oxford Dictionary of English. Oxford University Press. p. 1137. ISBN 9780199571123. Retrieved 12 February 2015. ORIGIN 1930S: perhaps from Yiddish makeh, 'a plague'. 
  33. ^ "Red Sea pedestrian - Green's Dictionary of Slang". Oxford Reference. Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/acref/9780199829941.001.0001/acref-9780199829941-e-38265 (inactive 2017-09-23). Retrieved 18 December 2016. 
  34. ^ Rockaway, Robert A. (2000), But He Was Good to His Mother: The Lives and Crimes of Jewish Gangsters, Gefen Publishing House Ltd., p. 95, ISBN 965-229-249-4 
  35. ^ Rothman, Lily (17 September 2014). "When Did 'Shylock' Become a Slur?". TIME Magazine. Retrieved 11 February 2015. The word "shylock," [...] is an eponym from a Jewish character in Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice. [...] Today, "shylock" is considered an antisemitic slur. 
  36. ^ "Yid - Origin and history of Yid by Online Etymology Dictionary". Retrieved 23 September 2017. 
  37. ^ "Australian television personality defends calling Muslim MP a 'Mussie'". 10 August 2015. 
  38. ^ 2008, Alum Bati, Harem Secrets, page 130
  39. ^ Bay, Austin (28 January 2007). "Iraq's battlefield slang". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 16 March 2016. 
  40. ^ "Mohammedan Definition in the Cambridge English Dictionary". Retrieved 2017-06-05. 
  41. ^ a b Peek, Lori (2011). Behind the Backlash: Muslim Americans After 9/11. Temple University Press. p. 64. ISBN 978-1-59213-984-2. Retrieved 2 December 2017. 
  42. ^ Sidhu, Dawinder S.; Gohil, Neha Singh (23 May 2016). Civil Rights in Wartime: The Post-9/11 Sikh Experience. Taylor & Francis. pp. 104–107. ISBN 978-1-317-16560-6. Retrieved 18 December 2016. 
  43. ^ Stevenson, Angus (19 August 2010). Oxford Dictionary of English. OUP Oxford. p. 1881. ISBN 978-0-19-957112-3. Retrieved 18 December 2016. 
  44. ^ Operation Clambake clam FAQ
  45. ^ "Infidel". The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (5th ed.). Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 2014. 
  46. ^ Spears (2001), "Jack"