Spic (also known as spick) is an ethnic slur commonly used in the United States for a person of Hispanic background.
Some in the United States believe that the word is a play on their pronunciation of the English "speak". The Oxford English Dictionary takes spic to be a contraction of the earlier form spiggoty. The oldest known use of "spiggoty" is in 1910 by Wilbur Lawton in Boy Aviators in Nicaragua, or, In League with the Insurgents. Stuart Berg Flexner, in I hear America Talking (1976), favored the explanation that it derives from "no spik Ingles" (or "no spika de Ingles"). These theories follow standard naming practices, which include attacking people according to the foods they eat (see Kraut and Frog) and for their failure to speak a language (see Barbarian and Gringo).
- http://kpearson.faculty.tcnj.edu/Dictionary/spic.htm Interactive Dictionary of Language. Accessed April 12, 2007.
- http://www.bartleby.com/61/53/S0635300.html The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language. Accessed April 12, 2007.
- Santiago, Esmeralda. When I Was Puerto Rican. New York: Vintage Books, 1993.
- "spiggoty". Oxford English Dictionary (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press. September 2005. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.) citing as an etymology Amer. Speech XIII. 311/1 (1938) 'Spiggoty' originated in Panama during Construction Days, and is assumed to be a corruption of ‘spikee de’ in the sentence ‘No spikee de English’, which was then the most common response of Panamanians to any question in English.
- Take Our Word for It June 21, 1999, Issue 45 of etymology webzine. Other familiar sources simply say it is a shortened form of the word Hispanic. Accessed January 16, 2007.