phrases, sayings, idioms and expressions at

Phrases, Sayings and Idioms Home > Discussion Forum

Re: Redskin

Posted by ESC on April 02, 2002

In Reply to: Re: Redskin posted by R. Berg on April 02, 2002

: : I think it is the political correct answer, did you notice "genocidal practice". If you look up scalping, you will see several sites trying to make the argument it was Europe that originated the practice and the tribes just innocently got caught up into the action. Here is a good site that dispels that, http://thecowshed.tripod.com/native/cutting.htm "Finally, the words that are used to describe "scalp" and "scalping" had no set vocabulary and no universal translation in European languages, but Indians of different backgrounds and languages had nouns and verbs to refer to the specific use of the terminology."

: : I can't help but think red=blood and because it is a negative English word for American Indians, I think it might have something to do with Indians taking scalps, because it would be a bloody mess, leaving them with redskinds.

: But did you come to this forum to get information about the origin of "redskin" or to promote a hypothesis about it? The reference books that the regulars here rely on say the word came from a supposed reddish hue to Indians' skin. They say nothing about blood or scalping. The origin of a word isn't established just by finding that one or another idea is intuitively appealing. You need historical support, too; and we presume that the compilers of the reference books have researched the phrases they explain. As an example, look at "the Whole nine yards" as tossed around in the archives on this site. Many people have "decided" what the "true" origin of that phrase is--but they have proposed DIFFERENT origins.

RED INDIAN - "An offensive name for Native Americans, but a historical term applied by the British to North American Indians, apparently because of 'their copper-colored skin' and to distinguish them semantically from the Indians of India. From 'Red Indian' came the derogatory word redskin." From "Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins" by Robert Hendrickson (Facts on File, New York, 1997).

"redskin, 1699; red man, 1725; red devil, 1834." From "I Hear America Talking" by Stuart Berg Flexner (Von Nostrand Reinhold Co., New York, 1976).

Hey! Let's blame the British for the term.

BTW. When my children were small, they noticed hair color over skin color. Their grandmother was a short (5 ft.), plump white lady. A family friend was a tall (6 ft.), slender black woman. My kids told her, "You look like Grandma." Both women had gray hair.