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Why are Italians called WOGs?

Updated on June 20, 2011

The term Wog has been in use in different areas of the world for over 80 years. It's commonly used to refer to Italian people but can also be used as a reference to any dark skinned person, in particular those of Indian or Asian descent.

Please be aware, however, that the term Wog is in fact derogatory and shouldn't be used as a nickname for anyone.

The term WOG has passed into popular culture and even been immortalised in films including The Wog Boy starring Nick Giannopoulos.

Although the first known written reference only dates back to 1929, there are suggestions that it may date back as early as 1895.

The Wog Boy movie immortalised the term in relation to Italians.
The Wog Boy movie immortalised the term in relation to Italians.

Origin of the Word Wog

There are a range of explanations for what and where the term Wog originated. Here are the main suggested origins:

  • A book published in 1895 featured a Golliwogg - a black faced character which could have reminded readers of a dark skinned person, hence the name.
  • The term Pollywog refers to someone who has not crossed the equater - although this explanation is doubtful to explain the term.
  • Acronym for Wily Oriental Gentleman
  • Acronym for Western Oriental Gentleman

Other Uses of the Word Wog

The word Wog also has other meanings:

  • In Australia, the term Wog can refer to a cold or flu.
  • The word Wog can refer to a harmful bug or insect.

Modern Use of the Word Wog

These days it is highly advised to use the word Wog with caution. Why?

  • In most countries it is used as an ethnic slur.
  • In England it refers to Asian and African¬†immigrants.
  • In Australia it refers to post war migrants from southern parts of Europe.
  • It has been adopted by many cultural groups who are happy to use it among themselves but still find it insulting to have it used by someone outside their ethnic group.


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