Wog or Pog is a slang
Slang is the use of informal words and expressions that are not considered standard in the speaker's language or dialect but are considered more acceptable when used socially. Slang is often to be found in areas of the lexicon that refer to things considered taboo...

 word with a number of meanings, generally considered derogatory and, in some instances, extremely offensive when used in relation to ethnicity. The term is essentially used differently within the UK and Australian context: in the United Kingdom, historically it referred to "dark skinned" people and in its modern usage is considered overtly racist and is not used in polite conversation; while in Australian English
Australian English
Australian English is the name given to the group of dialects spoken in Australia that form a major variety of the English language....

 the term was originally a pejorative for "Mediterranean" migrants, though in recent decades its offensiveness has been defused in certain contexts by common usage in pop-culture produced by the descendants of Mediterranean migrants.

British English

Wog in the UK is usually regarded as a racially offensive slang word referring to a dark-skinned or olive-skinned person from Africa or Asia. It can be applied to any darker-skinned people, but is particularly applied to Afro-Caribbeans, as well as immigrants from the Middle-East and Mediterranean. Most dictionaries refer to the word as derogatory and offensive.

The origin of the term is unknown, though unsupported folk etymology has much to say. Many dictionaries say "wog" derives from the Golliwogg
The "Golliwogg" was a character in children's books in the late 19th century and depicted as a type of rag doll. It was reproduced, both by commercial and hobby toy-makers as a children's toy called the "golliwog", and had great popularity in North America, the United Kingdom, Europe and...

, a blackface
Blackface is a form of theatrical makeup used in minstrel shows, and later vaudeville, in which performers create a stereotyped caricature of a black person. The practice gained popularity during the 19th century and contributed to the proliferation of stereotypes such as the "happy-go-lucky darky...

Minstrel show
The minstrel show, or minstrelsy, was an American entertainment consisting of comic skits, variety acts, dancing, and music, performed by white people in blackface or, especially after the Civil War, black people in blackface....

 doll character from a children's book published in 1895. An alternative is that "wog" originates from Pollywog
A polliwog is a tadpole, the offspring of an amphibian.Polliwog or pollywog may also refer to:* Binyah Binyah Polliwog, a character on the children's television series Gullah Gullah Island...

, a maritime term for someone who has not crossed the equator
Line-crossing ceremony
The ceremony of Crossing the Line is an initiation rite in the Royal Navy, U.S. Navy, U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Marine Corps, and other navies that commemorates a sailor's first crossing of the Equator. Originally, the tradition was created as a test for seasoned sailors to ensure their new shipmates...

. Various acronymical origins like "worthy/wily oriental gentlemen" have been suggested, although the term appears to predate the regular use of acronyms.
It was first noted by lexicographer F.C. Bowen, who recorded it in 1929 in his Sea slang: a dictionary of the old-timers’ expressions and epithets, where he defines wogs as "lower class Babu
Babu (title)
The term babu, also spelled baboo, is used in modern-day South Asia as a sign of respect towards men. It is a derivation of bapu which means father. The honorific "ji" is sometimes added as a suffix to create the double honorific "babuji" which, in northern and eastern parts of India, is a term of...

 shipping clerks on the Indian coast."

The saying "The wogs begin at Calais
Calais is a town in Northern France in the department of Pas-de-Calais, of which it is a sub-prefecture. Although Calais is by far the largest city in Pas-de-Calais, the department's capital is its third-largest city of Arras....

" was originated by George Wigg, Labour
Labour Party (UK)
The Labour Party is a centre-left democratic socialist party in the United Kingdom. It surpassed the Liberal Party in general elections during the early 1920s, forming minority governments under Ramsay MacDonald in 1924 and 1929-1931. The party was in a wartime coalition from 1940 to 1945, after...

Member of Parliament
A Member of Parliament is a representative of the voters to a :parliament. In many countries with bicameral parliaments, the term applies specifically to members of the lower house, as upper houses often have a different title, such as senate, and thus also have different titles for its members,...

 for Dudley
Dudley is a large town in the West Midlands county of England. At the 2001 census , the Dudley Urban Sub Area had a population of 194,919, making it the 26th largest settlement in England, the second largest town in the United Kingdom behind Reading, and the largest settlement in the UK without...

, in 1949. In a parliamentary debate concerning the Burmese
The Bamar are the dominant ethnic group of Burma , constituting approximately two-thirds of the population. The Bamar live primarily in the Irrawaddy basin, and speak the Burmese language, which is also the official language of Burma. Bamar customs and identity are closely intertwined with general...

, Wigg shouted at the Conservative
Conservative Party (UK)
The Conservative Party, formally the Conservative and Unionist Party, is a centre-right political party in the United Kingdom that adheres to the philosophies of conservatism and British unionism. It is the largest political party in the UK, and is currently the largest single party in the House...

 benches, "The Honourable Gentleman and his friends think they are all 'wogs'. Indeed, the Right Honourable Member for Woodford
Woodford (UK Parliament constituency)
Woodford was a parliamentary constituency in Essex which returned one Member of Parliament to the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom from 1945 until it was renamed for the 1964 general election...

 [i.e. Winston Churchill
Winston Churchill
Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill, was a predominantly Conservative British politician and statesman known for his leadership of the United Kingdom during the Second World War. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest wartime leaders of the century and served as Prime Minister twice...

] thinks that the 'wogs' begin at Calais." Wigg's coinage, sometimes paraphrased as "Wogs start at the Channel
English Channel
The English Channel , often referred to simply as the Channel, is an arm of the Atlantic Ocean that separates southern England from northern France, and joins the North Sea to the Atlantic. It is about long and varies in width from at its widest to in the Strait of Dover...

" or "Wogs start at Dover
Dover is a town and major ferry port in the home county of Kent, in South East England. It faces France across the narrowest part of the English Channel, and lies south-east of Canterbury; east of Kent's administrative capital Maidstone; and north-east along the coastline from Dungeness and Hastings...

", is used to characterise a "stodgy Europhobic" viewpoint, and more generally the view that Britain (more so England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

) is inherently separate from and superior to the Continent
Continental Europe
Continental Europe, also referred to as mainland Europe or simply the Continent, is the continent of Europe, explicitly excluding European islands....

. In this case, "wog" is used to compare any foreign, non-British person to those more traditionally labelled "wogs".

American English

In the United States, "Wog" is simply short for Pollywog, the navy term for sailors who have yet to cross the equator in the line-crossing ceremony
Line-crossing ceremony
The ceremony of Crossing the Line is an initiation rite in the Royal Navy, U.S. Navy, U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Marine Corps, and other navies that commemorates a sailor's first crossing of the Equator. Originally, the tradition was created as a test for seasoned sailors to ensure their new shipmates...

, and has no racial associations.

Australian English

In older, unrelated usage, 'wog' in Australian English
Australian English
Australian English is the name given to the group of dialects spoken in Australia that form a major variety of the English language....

 was used to refer to an illnesses such as the flu or malaria
Malaria is a mosquito-borne infectious disease of humans and other animals caused by eukaryotic protists of the genus Plasmodium. The disease results from the multiplication of Plasmodium parasites within red blood cells, causing symptoms that typically include fever and headache, in severe cases...

 or to unpleasant insects , but the "ethnic slur" meaning has now largely driven these out.

However, as with other slang and prima-facie profanity used in contemporary Australian English
Australian English
Australian English is the name given to the group of dialects spoken in Australia that form a major variety of the English language....

, the ethnic term "wog" may be employed either aggressively or affectionately within differing contexts.

In Australia, the term was applied to Post World War II migrants from the Mediterranean region, North Africa
North Africa
North Africa or Northern Africa is the northernmost region of the African continent, linked by the Sahara to Sub-Saharan Africa. Geopolitically, the United Nations definition of Northern Africa includes eight countries or territories; Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, South Sudan, Sudan, Tunisia, and...

 and Southeastern Europe, particularly the Albanian, Egyptian, Greek, Irish, Italian, Lebanese, Maltese, Scottish, Yugoslav and Welsh communities in Melbourne and Sydney - contrasted with the dominant Anglo-Saxon stock of the Australian population.
More recently Mediterranean-Australian performing artists have taken ownership of the term "wog", defusing its original pejorative nature - the popular early 1990s stage show Wogs Out of Work created by Nick Giannopoulos
Nick Giannopoulos
Nick Giannopoulos is a Australian stand-up comedian, film and TV actor. He is best known for his comedy stage show Wogs Out of Work alongside George Kapiniaris and the television sitcom Acropolis Now and is an exponent of wog comedy.-Early life:Nick is an actor/writer/producer/director...

 and Simon Palomares
Simon Palomares
Simon Palomares is a Spanish-Australian comedian and actor, best known for his character "Ricky" in Acropolis Now.-Biography:...

 was an early example. The production was followed on television with Acropolis Now
Acropolis Now
Acropolis Now was an Australian sitcom set in a Greek bar of the same name that ran for 63 episodes from 1989 to 1992 on the Seven Network. It was created by Nick Giannopoulos, George Kapiniaris and Simon Palomares, who also starred in the series. They were already quite well known for their comedy...

, starring Giannopoulos, Palomares, George Kapiniaris, Alan Dyepoulos and Mary Coustas, and films The Wog Boy
The Wog Boy
The Wog Boy is a 2000 Australian motion picture comedy starring Nick Giannopoulos, Vince Colosimo, Lucy Bell, Abi Tucker, John Barresi, Stephen Curry, Hung Le, Geraldine Turner, Tony Nikolakopoulos and Derryn Hinch. -Plot:...

and Wog Boy 2: Kings of Mykonos
Wog Boy 2: Kings of Mykonos
The Wog Boy 2: Kings of Mykonos is a 2010 Australian motion picture comedy sequel to the 2000 film The Wog Boy, starring Nick Giannopoulos, Vince Colosimo and Costas Kilias. It was released in Australia on 20 May 2010 and UK on 7 January 2011.-Plot:...

and parodies such as those of Santo Cilauro
Santo Cilauro
Santo Cilauro is an Australian television and feature film producer, screenwriter, actor, author, comedian and cameraman, a co-founder of The D-Generation...

, Eric Bana
Eric Bana
Eric Bana is an Australian film and television actor. He began his career as a comedian in the sketch comedy series Full Frontal before gaining critical recognition in the biopic Chopper...

, Vince Colosimo
Vince Colosimo
Vincenzo Colosimo is an Australian AFI Award winning stage, television and screen actor. He has worked in both Australia and the United States.-Personal life:...

, Nick Giannopoulos, Mary Coustas
Mary Coustas
Mary Coustas is an Australian television personality. Originally from Melbourne, Coustas often performs as the character "Effie": a stereotypical second-generation Greek Australian...

 and SBS Television's offbeat Pizza
Pizza (TV series)
Pizza is an Australian black comedy television series on the Australian television network, SBS. It has also spun off a feature length movie in 2003, and in 2004 released a highlights video/DVD which also included previously unshown footage and a schoolies exposé theatre show entitled "Fat Pizza"...

 TV series have continued this change in Australian cultural history - with some even classifying a genre of wogsploitation (akin to blacksploitation in the United States) of pop-culture products being created by and for a proudly "wog" market. Recent works of the genre have been used by Australians of non-English speaking backgrounds to assert ethnic identity, rather than succumb to ethnic stereotype. Upon the release of Wog Boy 2, Giannopoulos discussed the contemporary use of the term "wog" in the Australian context:

I think by defusing the word 'wog' we've shown our maturity and our great ability to adapt and just laugh things off, you know... When I first came [to Greece] and I started trying to explain to them why we got called 'wog' they'd get really angry about it, you know. They were, "Why? Why they say this about the Greek people?" You know? But then when they see what we've done with it - and this is the twist - that we've turned it into a term of endearment, they actually really get into that...

Thus, in contemporary Australia, the term "wog" may, in certain contexts, be viewed as a "nickname
A nickname is "a usually familiar or humorous but sometimes pointed or cruel name given to a person or place, as a supposedly appropriate replacement for or addition to the proper name.", or a name similar in origin and pronunciation from the original name....

" rather than a pejorative term - akin to the nicknames ascribed within Australian English to other historically significant cultural groupings such as the English (nicknamed Poms
POMS or Poms may refer to:* Pom-pons, a hand-held decoration used in cheerleading or a related sport also called "poms" or "pom-pons"* A slang term for British people...

), the Americans (nicknamed Yanks
The term Yankee has several interrelated and often pejorative meanings, usually referring to people originating in the northeastern United States, or still more narrowly New England, where application of the term is largely restricted to descendants of the English settlers of the region.The...

) and New Zealanders (nicknamed Kiwis
Kiwi (people)
Kiwi is the nickname used internationally for people from New Zealand, as well as being a relatively common self-reference. The name derives from the kiwi, a flightless bird, which is native to, and the national symbol of, New Zealand...



Amongst Scientologists
Scientology is a body of beliefs and related practices created by science fiction and fantasy author L. Ron Hubbard , starting in 1952, as a successor to his earlier self-help system, Dianetics...

, wog is used as a disparaging word for non-scientologists. Scientology's founder L. Ron Hubbard
L. Ron Hubbard
Lafayette Ronald Hubbard , better known as L. Ron Hubbard , was an American pulp fiction author and religious leader who founded the Church of Scientology...

 defined wog as a "common, everyday garden-variety humanoid ... He 'is' a body. [He] doesn't know he's there, etc. He isn't there as a spirit at all. He is not operating as a thetan
In Scientology, the concept of thetan is similar to the concept of spirit or soul found in other belief systems. The term is derived from the Greek letter theta, which in Scientology represents "the source of life, or life itself." In Scientology it is believed that it is the Thetan, not the...


L. Ron Hubbard employed the term frequently in his lectures and writings.

Since wog is not in general use in American English, Hubbard may have picked it up during his period of service as a US naval officer during World War II (1941–1945), or in England, where he lived from 1953 to 1966.

Scientologists claim the term wog has no racist overtones, even in the UK where that meaning is prevalent. From a 2004 Church of Scientology magazine: "I arrived at Saint Hill shy, introverted and somewhat out of valence. I had been working at a wog job, and I knew my priorities had to change ..."

The term has also been associated with the general demeaning of people who are outside of Scientology due to their lack of knowledge or belief in various aspects of the religion. It is implied that these people are essentially lost causes or not worth saving in the case of catastrophe or prophesied event. This has caused many modern survivalists to embrace the term "Wog" in spite, as they feel they are knowledgeable and trained enough to survive such events regardless of their religious beliefs.

Other meanings

  • "Wog", short for "wogglebug", extraterrestrial
    Extraterrestrial life
    Extraterrestrial life is defined as life that does not originate from Earth...

    s in Philip Jose Farmer
    Philip José Farmer
    Philip José Farmer was an American author, principally known for his award-winning science fiction and fantasy novels and short stories....

    's celebrated 1952 novella
    A novella is a written, fictional, prose narrative usually longer than a novelette but shorter than a novel. The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America Nebula Awards for science fiction define the novella as having a word count between 17,500 and 40,000...

    , The Lovers. (This name is in turn derived from Professor Woggle-Bug, a character in L. Frank Baum
    L. Frank Baum
    Lyman Frank Baum was an American author of children's books, best known for writing The Wonderful Wizard of Oz...

    's Oz book series.)
  • In David Drake
    David Drake
    David Drake is an American author of science fiction and fantasy literature. A Vietnam War veteran who has worked as a lawyer, he is now one of the premier authors of the military science fiction subgenre.-Biography:...

    's RCN Series
    RCN Series
    The RCN Series is a sequence of stand-alone science fiction novels by David Drake. They center around Daniel Leary, an officer in the Republic of Cinnabar Navy , and Adele Mundy, a librarian and spy...

    , wog is used by citizens of the Republic of Cinnabar as a derogatory term for anyone not from Cinnabar, paralleling the British use of the term to describe non-Britons.
  • WOG, is also used as slang in the Canadian Army, meaning "Without Guts", or "Without Guns". Used as a derogitory term by the infantry towards support trades.

Non-slang acronym

Various acronymical uses are recorded, for example, WithOut Guarantee, Weight On Ground (aviation).
WOG or "W.O.G." appears, always in capitals, on certain types or models of block or check valve
A valve is a device that regulates, directs or controls the flow of a fluid by opening, closing, or partially obstructing various passageways. Valves are technically pipe fittings, but are usually discussed as a separate category...

s, indicating they are suitable for "water-oil-gas" service, where gas normally means natural gas
Natural gas
Natural gas is a naturally occurring gas mixture consisting primarily of methane, typically with 0–20% higher hydrocarbons . It is found associated with other hydrocarbon fuel, in coal beds, as methane clathrates, and is an important fuel source and a major feedstock for fertilizers.Most natural...

 or propane
Propane is a three-carbon alkane with the molecular formula , normally a gas, but compressible to a transportable liquid. A by-product of natural gas processing and petroleum refining, it is commonly used as a fuel for engines, oxy-gas torches, barbecues, portable stoves, and residential central...

. The letters are usually raised, having been cast with the valve body. 'WoG.com' stands for 'World of Goals', which many consider to be a poor choice of words for the first World Cup to be held in Africa, hosted by a country who in the relatively recent past employed a system of government that divided its citizens based on the colour of their skin.

Folk etymology

The term wog is often given a folk etymology as an acronym for various phrases:
  • Whole Of Government. Used to describe Australian Government-wide outsourcing contracts
  • Working On Government Service, referring to Indians working for the British Raj
    British Raj
    British Raj was the British rule in the Indian subcontinent between 1858 and 1947; The term can also refer to the period of dominion...

    , or referring to Egyptian labourers working on the Suez Canal during the British Occupation in the early 20th Century.
  • Western/Westernized/Wild/Wily/Worthy Oriental Gentleman.

Evidence for these putative explanations is generally anecdotal. They may be considered backronyms.

External links

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