Greaser (derogatory)

Greaser (derogatory)

Greaser was a derogatory term for a Mexican in what is now the US Southwest in the 19th century. It most likely derived from what was considered one of the lowliest occupations typically held by Mexicans in what is now the US Southwest, the greasing of the axles of mule carts. It was a common usage among US troops during the Mexican-American War. The term was actually incorporated into an early California statute, the Greaser Act (1855), an expression of a virulent form of anti-Mexican sentiment among many Anglo Californians.

The term persisted in use through the silent film era, as evidenced by films such as "Ah Sing and the Greasers" (1910), "The Greaser’s Gauntlet" (1908), "Tony the Greaser" (1911), "The Greaser and the Weakling" (1912), "The Girl and the Greaser" (1913), "The Greaser’s Revenge" (1914), "Bronco Billy and the Greaser" (1914), and "The Greaser" (1915) [] . Subsequently, however, Hollywood began to cut its usage of this particular derogatory term to improve its distribution in Mexican and Latin American markets.

The racist eugenicist Madison Grant made mention of the term with respect to the Mexican of mixed ancestry in his notorious work, "The Passing of the Great Race", published in 1916 ( [,M1 pp.76-77, 1921 edition online at Google] ).

The term has also been used as a shortened form of "greaseball", an ethnic slur for someone of Italian origin.

The term was used in 1978 by rock critic Robert Christgau who called Willy DeVille "the songpoet of greaser nostalgia,." [Christgau, Robert (1978) [ Mink DeVille] Consumer Reviews.] although it isn't clear that this usage had anything to do with Mexicans or other Latinos rather than an allusion to the 1950's teenage style.

ee also

*List of ethnic slurs


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  • Greaser — or Greasers can refer to: * Greaser (derogatory), a derogatory term for a Mexican. * Greaser (subculture), a subculture that developed in the United States in the 1950s. * A device to apply grease (lubricant). * Someone who uses vegetable oil as… …   Wikipedia

  • greaser — [grēs′ər] n. 1. a person or thing that greases ☆ 2. Slang a poor or working class youth, esp. in the 1950s, often characterized as being rough in manner, wearing a leather jacket, having oily hair, riding a motorcycle, etc.: usually a somewhat… …   English World dictionary

  • Greaser — Greas er, n. 1. One who, or that which, greases; specifically, a person employed to lubricate the working parts of machinery, engines, carriages, etc. [1913 Webster] 2. A nickname sometimes applied in contempt to a Mexican or other Latin American …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • greaser — (n.) early 14c. (as a surname), one who smears salve on a sheep, agent noun from from GREASE (Cf. grease). As derogatory American English slang for native Mexican or Latin American, first attested 1849, so called from appearance. Greaseball in… …   Etymology dictionary

  • greaser — greas·er || grɪːsÉ™(r) n. person or thing which applies grease; person from South America (Derogatory Slang); flatterer (Slang); member of a gang or group (Slang) …   English contemporary dictionary

  • greaser — /ˈgrizə/ (say greezuh) noun 1. someone who greases. 2. Also, greasespot. Colloquial (derogatory) (racist) a Latin American person, especially a Mexican. 3. Also, greasespot. Colloquial a toadying, sycophantic person …   Australian English dictionary

  • List of ethnic slurs — The following is a list of ethnic slurs (ethnophaulisms) that are, or have been, used as insinuations or allegations about members of a given ethnicity or to refer to them in a derogatory (critical or disrespectful), pejorative (disapproving or… …   Wikipedia

  • List of ethnic slurs by ethnicity — This list of ethnic slurs by ethnicity compiles ethnic slurs that are, or have been, used in the English language. For the purposes of this list, ethnicity can be defined by either race, nationality or ethnicity. Contents 1 Broader ethnic… …   Wikipedia

  • Yankee — This article is about the term. For other uses, see Yankee (disambiguation). The term Yankee (sometimes shortened to Yank) has several interrelated and often pejorative meanings, usually referring to people originating in the northeastern United… …   Wikipedia

  • Chinaman (term) — Chinaman is a contentious English language term that denotes a Chinese man or person, whether by Han Chinese ethnicity, or as a Chinese national, or, in some cases, an indiscriminate term for a person native to geographical East Asia or of… …   Wikipedia

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