Definitions

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

  • n. Offensive Slang Used as a disparaging term for a Hispanic person.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A Spanish-speaking person, someone with a Central American or Latino accent.

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

  • n. (ethnic slur) offensive term for persons of Latin American descent
  • adj. completely neat and clean

Etymologies

Alteration of obsolete spig, a Mexican, short for spiggoty, perhaps from an accented pronunciation of (No) speak the (English).
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Possibly imitative of a Hispanic pronunciation of speak. Usually considered a contraction of the earlier used spiggoty. (Wiktionary)

Examples

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Comments

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  • if pronunciation of "speak" is what we're going by, this applies to loads of language groups, though actually, not Spanish speakers, given 's' isn't acceptable word-initially in Spanish.

    though I suppose one can't expect a high standard of linguistics in the field of racial prejudice.

    December 5, 2009

  • Poetry Series Spurs Debate on the Use of an Old Slur Against Latinos (New York Times, November 21, 2009)

    The word sounds retro, but its corrosive power lingers. Once a cruelly common taunt that mocked the way Spanish speakers pronounced “speak,” it set off fights, shattered friendships and trampled feelings.

    Now that word forms the title of a poetry series — “Spic Up/Speak Out” — at, of all places, El Museo del Barrio in East Harlem, on Saturday.

    Organizers say that the provocative title is intended as a postmodern take, inviting dialogue and debate over issues of identity. Some of the participating poets have embraced the title as a symbolic inversion of the word, that neutralizes its sting. But others are not so sure.

    “I guess I get it, but I don’t like the joke,” said Aracelis Girmay, a young poet who declined to participate. “It would be one thing if it were some underground place, but it’s at an institution. El Museo del Barrio is supposed to be the place that I would expect would guard our culture respectfully. This is giving dangerous permission to that word. It’s inviting it through the front door.”

    December 5, 2009

  • My ex-father-in-law was Italian, and he thought it was a slur against Italians.

    July 7, 2009

  • Frisky Dingo:

    Carter (on TV): "Immigration: why not have a massive pedestrian overpass to Canada?"
    Xander (turns TV off): "Man, I was gonna do a pedestrian overpass to Canada. I was gonna call it the "Spic Span."

    August 29, 2008