12 September, 2006

Know Your Epithets: ‘Kike’

Posted by alex in epithets, White vocabulary at 1:45 am | Permanent Link

kike (kaIk) slang. Also kyke.

1. n. An offensive name for a Jew.

2. adj. Something Jewish in origin or ownership (also kikey).

3. n. A grasping, dishonest if also shrewd person (irrespective of race).

The etymology of kike is hotly contested, although it is commonly agreed that the word dates back to the late 19th century. Many plausible theories have been advanced:

a) To borrow from Leo Rosten’s The Joys of Yiddish, “The word kike was born on Ellis Island, when Jewish immigrants who were illiterate (or could not use Roman-English letters), when asked to sign the entry-forms with the customary ‘X,’ refused — and instead made a circle. The Yiddish word for ‘circle’ is kikel (pronounced KY – kel), and for ‘little circle,’ kikeleh. Before long the immigration inspectors were calling anyone who signed with an ‘O’ instead of an ‘X’ a kikel or kikeleh or kikee or, finally and succinctly, kike.”

Rosten explains that for the Jewish immigrants, an ‘X’ was an evil sign, representing both the horrors of crucifixion and the sign of their (Christian) oppressors. Jewish – American merchants continued to sign with an ‘O’ instead of an ‘X’ for several decades, spreading the nickname kike wherever they went as a natural result. At that time kike was more of an affectionate term, or used by Jews to describe other Jews, and only developed into a racial slur later on.

b) Due to the commonality of the Jewish forename “Isaac,” some have advanced the theory that kike descends from the abbreviation “Ike.” This theory lacks the evidence supporting the kikel derivation, but is not preposterous, given that it is well known that the slur Hymie is descended from the Jewish forename “Hyman” (originally “Chaim”). Furthermore, Ikey Mo is a British nickname for Jews that clearly descends from Isaac.

c) Others argue that kike derives from a rhyme off of the last syllable of many Ashkenazi Jews’ last name, -sky or -ski. “Ki-ki” would have given way over time to kike, it is supposed. This theory is a bit counter-intuitive, however, since the syllables -sky or -ski are universally pronounced to rhyme with “key,” as opposed to “fly.” Hence one would assume, were this theory correct, that kike would be pronounced KEEK, which it most certainly is not.

d) Still others believe that kike derives from the German kieken, which means “to peep.” P. Tamony, quoted in Cassell’s Dictionary, claims that Jewish clothing manufacturers “peeped” at fancy European haute couture, and then made cheap knock-offs.

Although any of these explanations could be truthful, only Rosten’s (theory “a”) has the weight of strong oral history in its favor. All parties agree that the term was originally used by German Jews who had emigrated to the United States earlier in the 19th century to describe their later-arriving Ashkenazi counterparts. In its origins, kike was used by Jews to describe other Jews who they felt were vulgar, and from there it became appropriated as part of the American vocabulary of slang. Kike is still used to this day by Jews to describe other Jews who they feel are low in character. www.jtf.org/why.use.term.kike.htm

The following examples can only begin to tell the tale of one of the most widespread racial slurs of American origin. Kike is certainly the king of the pejorative terms for Jews, beating out yid, hymie, sheeny, and hebe hands down. Unlike yid, for instance, kike has never lost its bite, and is not considered funny by contemporary Jews. Although Jewish authors will use the term in their writing in order to accurately represent the hateful speech of others, they would not jokingly refer to themselves by that moniker. Kike has spread all over the English-speaking world, and can be heard in Great Britain and Australia.

1904 R. L. MCCARDELL Show Girl & her Friends 49 And what do you think? He had the impudence to tell me that Louie Zinsheimer was a kike!

1905 O. HENRY Works 1449 Judas . . . I always thought that Kike’s squeal on his boss was about the lowest-down play that ever happened.

1911 BRONSON-HOWARD Enemy to Society 290 You keep yer tongue for them as needs it, you kike!

1912 McClure’s Mag. XXXIX. 230/2 ‘It’s a mascot, be-dad! Jam it, ye kike!’ screeched Tracy.

1914 GRAHAM Poor Immigrants 126 I should say for the benefit of English readers that illiterate Russians and Russian Jews are called “Kikes,” illiterate Italians are “Wops,” Hungarians are “Hunkies.” These are rather terms of contempt.

1917 CAHAN D. Levinsky 407 And now go for him, young ladies! You know who Mr. Levinsky is, don’t you? It isn’t some kike. It’s David Levinsky, the cloak-manufacturer.

1917 DREISER Diaries 232 Former kikes all, raised to ridiculous heights by wealth!

1919 F. HURST Humoresque 211 A little red-haired kike like her!

1919 MENCKEN Amer. Lang. 115 An Englishman . . . knows nothing of our common terms of disparagement, such as kike . . and rube.

1924 P. MARKS Plastic Age xviii. 201 You go chasing around with kikes and micks.

1927 HEMINGWAY Men Without Women 213 George is a kike just like the rest of them.

1929-31 FARRELL Young Lonigan 110 He’d break his kike neck.

1932 J. DOS PASSOS 1919 164 The little kike behind the desk had never been to sea.

1940 R. STOUT Over my Dead Body vi. 84 I don’t care if the background is wop or mick or kike . . . so long as it’s American.

1945 S. LEWIS Can’t Happen Here 204 Why don’t you kikes take a tumble to yourselves and get out, beat it . . . and start a real Zion, say in South America?

1947 MOTLEY Knock on Any Door 26 Tony didn’t like the Jews and called them kikes.

1956 D. KARP All Honorable Men 74 If you repeat that lie, I’ll wring that skinny kike neck of yours with my own hands!

1959 MORRILL Dark Sea 66 All my troubles began when I signed on a stinking tanker under that Kyke Bosun, Hymie Gunzinger.

1963 V. NABOKOV Gift iii. 179 My better half . . . was for twenty years the wife of a kike and got mixed up with a whole rabble of Jew in-laws.

1963 Spectator 21 June 815 He knocks down Stern’s wife, calls her a kike.

1972 National Observer (U.S.) 27 May 17/3 When kikes are shrewd and dagos or wops are sly and murderous, it is only one step from the epithet to contempt.

1989 P. BENCHLEY Rummies 18 Her father had launched into one of his litanies of kike jokes . . . and Preston had called him a troglodyte asshole.

1991 B.E. ELLIS American Psycho 152 You retarded cocksucking kike.

1995 New Republic (April 24) 46 Almost everybody he meets that day calls him a yid or a kike.

In his 1995 album HIStory: Past, Present and Future, Book I, Michael Jackson drew criticism for the lyrics to the song “They Don’t Care About Us.” The offensive lyric was “Jew me, sue me, everybody do me / Kick me, kike me, don’t you black or white me.” Jackson claimed the song was an anti-racist protest, but the lyrics angered Jewish leaders such as David Lehrer of the Anti Defamation League and Rabbi Marvin Hier, dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center. Jackson defended himself, claiming that his closest friends were Jews, naming Steven Spielberg, for example, who had been quoted in the album’s liner notes. But Spielberg distanced himself from Jackson, claiming that his comments in the liner notes were based on his appraisal of Jackson’s earlier work, and that he had not heard the songs in HIStory prior to its release. http://maisha.com/mjj/lyrics/history/02.html

Finally, a joke from Leo Rosten’s Hooray for Yiddish:

“Meyer Levinsky entered a certain tony restaurant in a certain persnickety suburb. As he started for a table, the maitre d’ glared, “Wait! We don’t serve kikes!”

“That’s all right,” said Levinsky, “I don’t eat them.”

Bibliography

Allen, Irving Lewis. The Language of Ethnic Conflict: Social Organization and Lexical Culture. New York: Columbia University Press, 1983.

Green, Jonathan. Cassell’s Dictionary of Slang. London: Cassell and Company, 1998.

Harap, Louis. Dramatic Encounters. The Jewish Presence in Twentieth-Century American Drama, Poetry, and Humor and the Black-Jewish Literary Relationship. New York: Greenwood Press, 1987.

LA Sentinel, 6-28-95. Vol. LXI, no. 12, p. A-4.

Lighter, J.E. ed. Random House Historical Dictionary of American Slang. New York: Random House, 1997.

Liptzin, Sol. The Jew in American Literature. New York: Bloch Publishing Company, 1966.

Oxford English Dictionary, Second Edition. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1989.

Partridge, Eric. Slang, To-Day and Yesterday. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul Ltd, 1972.

Rosten, Leo. Hooray For Yiddish! A Book About English. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1982.

Rosten, Leo. The Joys of Yiddish. New York: Pocket Books, 1968.

Selzer,Michael. Kike! A documentary history of anti-Semitism in America. New York: World Pub., 1972.

Spears, Richard A. Slang and Euphemisms. New York: Middle Village, 1981.

Thorne, Tony. The Bloomsbury Dictionary of Contemporary Slang. New York: Pantheon Books, 1990.

Wentworth, Harold and Flexner, Stuart Berg editors, Dictionary of American Slang. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell Company, 1975.


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  6. 5 Responses to “Know Your Epithets: ‘Kike’”

    1. predator2prey Says:

      I think that’s the word which got Marlon Brando in trouble with the chosen people…

    2. Carpenter Says:

      Funny that it comes from “kikel,” meaning circle, since Ku Klux Klan comes from the Greek “kyklos,” meaning circle.

      Oh yeah, they refused to sign with an X because the cross represented their “Christian oppressors”. Typical Jewish bs. It couldn’t be that they hated and despised Christianity; it couldn’t be that their Talmud says Jesus was the son of a whore and a Roman soldier, and is now boiling in a pit of feces in hell. Oh no, it’s because they have been so oppressed. Then why move from one Christian country in Europe, to another in America, if they so feared Christianity that they couldn’t even draw its symbol?

      The Israeli kikes don’t even use the plus sign in mathematics. They use a plus sign lacking the upper part.

      Suppose Christians would demand that the Star of David never be printed in newspapers or magazines? Suppose they would demand its removal and the ban of Christian-Jewish marriages? Suppose they would declare their nation a “Christian nation” with special rights for Christians, not for Jews? No, that would be hate. One standard for Israel, another for the rest of us.

    3. alex Says:

      Important point here is that kike was first used by jews to describe jews!

    4. Scipio Americanus Says:

      I’ve always preferred the term “Sheenies”. That’s the epithet Revilo P. Oliver seemed to like too. You could always bust out the name “Shylock” for a change of pace.

    5. van helsing Says:

      White men have been using the X for a signature longer than 2000 years.

      Crichton’s cross!

      Jews have avoided the sign since before then.

      There is a LOT of history that is buried, and it is starting to be dredged up.

      A whole lot of these backasswards middle eastern societies… have seethed with rage for well over 1000 years, some for much longer. They used to be a lot whiter, but they got screwed over by the jews, and that subconscious knowledge would propel them even if israel wasnt there!

      Organized Kikery – 5700 years and counting!