Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. Offensive Slang Used as a disparaging term for an Italian, Spaniard, or Portuguese.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A person of Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, or other Mediterranean descent.
  • n. A person of Italian descent.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A nickname given to a person of Spanish (or, by extension, Portuguese or Italian) descent.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. Originally, one born of Spanish parents, especially in Louisiana: used as a proper name, and now extended to Spaniards, Portuguese, and Italians in general.
  • n. In the island of Guam, the square-stemmed yam, Dioscorea alata, and other species of Dioscorea resembling it.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. (ethnic slur) offensive term for a person of Italian descent

Etymologies

Alteration of Spanish Diego, a given name, from Latin Iacōbus, Jacob.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Alteration of diego ("Spaniard"), from Spanish Diego ("common Spanish name") by law of Hobson-Jobson. See Johnnie and Jock for similar epithets. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • But they will accuse you of being a Persian because you are an Indian, as I have heard a man called a dago because he was born somewhere south of a certain line.

    The Lion of Petra

  • "Sh.cabka Soomaaliyeed hadii ay iga dalbadaan inaan xilkayga ka dago waan ka dagayaa, anigoo u daneynaya shacbka, balse si kale ugama tagayo shaqadayda" ayuu yiri Sh. Aadan Madoobe.

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  • I spent my growing up years fighting mostly for my "dago" friends, not my black friends because they were good friends and went to school and were harassed and were in a minority.

    Oral History Interview with Eula McGill, December 12, 1974. Interview G-0039. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)

  • Against this surging forward of Irish and German, of Russian Jew, Slav and "dago" her social bars have not availed, but against Negroes she can and does take her unflinching and immovable stand, backed by this new public policy of

    Darkwater Voices from Within the Veil

  • Africa, the religion and empire-building of yellow Asia, the art and science of the "dago" Mediterranean shore, east, south, and west, as well as north.

    Darkwater Voices from Within the Veil

  • Italian, though he spoke the vernacular of the country, was the god of the "dago" quarter, the friend of those who had gotten entangled with the law.

    Judith of Blue Lake Ranch

  • Milder forms of antagonism consist in sending the immigrant workers "to Coventry," using contemptuous language of or to them, as we hear every day in "dago" or "sheeny," and in objections by the elders to the young people associating together, while the shameful use that is continually made of the immigrants as strike-breakers may rouse such mutual indignation that there are riots and pitched battles as a consequence.

    The Trade Union Woman

  • You will never win an Italian as long as you call him or think of him as "dago," nor a Jew while you nickname him "sheeny."

    Aliens or Americans?

  • CHAPTER V. Bennett's "dago," when halted by Number Four, was as limp a specimen of humanity as that drowsy young trooper had seen in all his soldier days.

    Tonio, Son of the Sierras A Story of the Apache War

  • None the less was Muñoz called into requisition as interpreter, for between peril, exhaustion and defective English the "dago" could only splutter an unintelligible jargon that might have been Sicilian, Maltese, or Calabrian, but could not be Spanish.

    Tonio, Son of the Sierras A Story of the Apache War

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Comments

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  • I know him for a shovel man,
    A dago working for a dollar six bits a day
    And a dark-eyed woman in the old country dreams of him for one of the world’s ready men with a pair of fresh lips and a kiss better than all the wild grapes that ever grew in Tuscany.

    - Carl Sandburg, 'The Shovel Man'.

    September 8, 2009

  • in fact, the term encompasses many other 'swarthy southerners' (in the British imagination), including Arabs, Levantines, Turks, Cypriots, Spaniards and Portuguese.

    April 11, 2009