from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun An ethnic or racial slur typically caricaturing some identifiable (often physical) feature of the group being derided. For example, "nigger", an offensive word for those of African ancestry, refers to their black skin.


from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From prefix ethno- and phaulism; phaulism is derived from the Greek word φαύλισμα from φαυλίζειν "to vilify" from φαῦλος "bad, unjust."



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  • A disparaging name for an ethnic group (Gk phaul- "cheap, light, mean"). Term invented by A. A. Roback.

    Mencken used the extraordinary term 'achthronym' for the same meaning; a subsequent (1963) edition combined the two in this extraordinary sentence:

    The English have fewer strangers within their gates, and hence their native armamentarium is smaller, and not a few of the achthronyms (or ethnophaulisms) they use come from the United States.

    'Achthronym' seems to be both non-existent apart from this use of Mencken's, and unetymologizable. There is no Greek achthr- in Liddell & Scott; the nearest is achth- "burden", possibly intended figuratively; nor is there a chthr- for it to be the privative of.

    February 12, 2009

  • I wonder if Mencken coined achthronym from "anthronym" + the German sigh of exasperation Ach!

    February 12, 2009