Mt. Carmel St. Cristina Society

Italian Slang Words

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That any Italian American knows the slang words of dago, guinea, and wap?  There are several ideas about the origins of these offensive words! Start with the Webster Dictionary—dago came from the Spanish word Diego, a common name for Spanish immigrants. The word guinea came from West Africa and was used for Italians because they had black hair, eyes, and complexion. Wap came from the Neapolitan dialect—guappo which meant handsome; focusing on dandy which was over-obsessed. There were other interpretations:  dago – Italians were hired as day laborers; guinea – was referred to the money the Italian lord he was working for “a guinea a day”; guappo – one final interpretation of wap it stood for “without paper” because Italian immigrants would some times come with inadequate papers.