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"WOP" redirects here. For other uses, see WOP (disambiguation).

Wop is a pejorative slur used to describe Italians, or people descended from Italians.[1]


According to Merriam-Webster its first known use was in the United States in 1908.[2] The dictionary is unambiguous that it originates from a southern Italian dialect term guappo, meaning thug, derived from the Spanish term guapo, meaning handsome, via dialectical French, meaning ruffian or pimp.[3] It also has roots in the Latin vappa, meaning wine gone flat.[2]

A false etymology sometimes promulgated is that "wop" is an acronym that comes from "without passport"[4][5] or "without papers."[5][6] The term has nothing to do with immigration documents which were not required by US immigration officers until 1918, long after the term came into use in the United States.[5] Further, turning acronyms into words did not become common practice until after World War II, with the practice accelerating with the growth of the United States Space Program and the Cold War.[4]

Popular culture[edit]

The term is used in the bar fight scene in the film From Here to Eternity.[7] During the Watergate scandal, President Richard Nixon referred to United States District Court Judge John Sirica as a "gol' darn wop."[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Embury, Stuart P. (2006). "Chapter One: The Early Years". The Art and Life of Luigi Lucioni. Embury Publishing Company. pp. 1-4.
  2. ^ a b Wop. Merriam-webster.com. Retrieved on 2015-10-11.
  3. ^ Wop. Dictionary.reference.com. Retrieved on 2015-10-11.
  4. ^ a b "Ingenious Trifling". Etymoline. Retrieved 1 October 2015. 
  5. ^ a b c O'Conner, Patricia T. (2009). Origins of the Specious: Myths and Misconceptions of the English Language. New York: Random House. p. 145. Retrieved 27 October 2015. 
  6. ^ Will, George (September 23, 2015). "Yogi Berra, an American Story". National Review. Washington Post. Retrieved 1 October 2015. 
  7. ^ Peter Bondanella (2005). Hollywood Italians: Dagos, Palookas, Romeos, Wise Guys, and Sopranos. Continuum International Publishing Group. p. 36. ISBN 978-0-8264-1757-2. 
  8. ^ The Manhattan Mercury from Manhattan, Kansas · Page 5. Newspapers.com (1975-08-27). Retrieved on 2015-10-11.