Back to Index

National Insults

Raúl Escalante says:

"The word "gabacho" which was traditionally used in Mexico to refer to Frenchmen (I suppose since the French intervention in the mid 1800s) has now been adopted to refer to Americans (although sometimes to foreigners in general). Do you know of other uses of the word? "

My answer: The word "gabacho" has a long history. Joan Corominas, who devotes almost two pages to it, says it comes from a word meaning "a crude mountain person" (the French came across the Pyrenees), and quotes its use by Góngora in 1610. It became a common word for French after the invasion of Spain in 1808, like calling the Germans "huns" in England or "boches" in France. I actually do not recall hearing it in conversation anywhere, but then I was very young in 1808. Now don't get me started on the history of the word "boches"...

Ronald Hilton - 5/3/01