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When did calling redheads "ginger" get started? Etymology of "ginger"?

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snooper2 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 10:13 AM
Original message
When did calling redheads "ginger" get started? Etymology of "ginger"?
And don't tell me South Park...I heard it back in grade school. Was at the zoo on Saturday and a tall redhead dude came running past a group of folks. Some girl yelled out "slow down ginger", was suprised people still said that-

I couldn't find a whole lot on the googles- but did find this-

http://ask.metafilter.com/83177/Explain-the-ginger

OED shows it going back to 1525:

1552 HULOET, *Gynger coloure, after a whyte russet, melinus.

but more directly, references it to the color of cocks (shush)

b. A cock with reddish plumage; also, a red-haired or sandy-haired person.
1785 GROSE Dict. Vulg. Tongue s.v. Ginger-pated, Red cocks are called gingers. 1797 Sporting Mag. IX. 338 In cocking, I suppose you will not find a better breed of gingers. 1857 H. AINSWORTH Spendthrift xvi. 109 Examining the cocks, and betting with each other..this backing a grey, that a ginger. 1885 in Eng. Illustr. Mag. June 605 There is..Ginger, the red-haired, who .

And certainly for human hair by 1865:

1865 DICKENS Mut. Fr. I. ii, Mature young gentleman; with..too much ginger in his whiskers. 1889 N.W. Linc. Gloss. (ed. 2), Ginger, a light red or yellow colour, applied to the hair.
posted by Rumple at 3:43 PM on February 8, 2008


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dionysus Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 10:15 AM
Response to Original message
1. i thought it was a british thing, i hear it on the BBC often.
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truebrit71 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 10:40 AM
Response to Reply #1
17. It is. Redheads were always knonw as Gingers when I was growing up...
..
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dionysus Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 06:39 PM
Response to Reply #17
36. in one of the latest Dr Who incarnation, he regenerates, and asks "am i ginger?" and is
disappointed when told no...
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tridim Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 10:17 AM
Response to Original message
2. That's a good start. The first I ever heard the term was on South Park
I guess it's because I was never a name-calling type.
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slackmaster Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 10:18 AM
Response to Original message
3. Ahem
Edited on Mon Apr-25-11 10:18 AM by slackmaster
Youth is wasted on the young.

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WatsonT Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 10:19 AM
Response to Reply #3
5. I always prefered Mary Ann
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slackmaster Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 10:20 AM
Response to Reply #5
9. Me too. Mary Ann seemed more real. Mary Ann is the kind of girl I'd introduce to my mom.
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thelordofhell Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 12:07 PM
Response to Reply #5
27. I preferred Mrs. Howell
When she dies and leaves me her money, I can buy all the Gingers and Mary Anns I want.

:rofl:
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WatsonT Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 12:15 PM
Response to Reply #27
30. Ah but all that wealth was useless on the island
their economy seemed to run on coconuts and shenanigans.
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thelordofhell Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 06:40 PM
Response to Reply #30
37. Coconut cream pie was currency on the island
It got Gilligan to do a lot of shit work for Mary Ann
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formernaderite Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 10:20 AM
Response to Reply #3
6. ahhh Ginger
boy do I remember her ;)
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Motown_Johnny Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 12:11 PM
Response to Reply #3
29. you could have used a more flattering photo
It isn't as if there aren't thousands of them out there.



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WatsonT Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 10:18 AM
Response to Original message
4. I heard it was because they tasted gingery
but in fact that is a myth, they taste just like everyone else.
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Snoutport Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 10:20 AM
Response to Reply #4
8. lol...i've been told redheads taste sweet....
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MineralMan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 10:20 AM
Response to Original message
7. I prefer "coppertop."
Ginger's pretty much a British expression.
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Snoutport Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 10:21 AM
Response to Reply #7
10. yeah....my friend's parents had an orange cat a "ginger moggy" as they called it
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surrealAmerican Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 11:40 AM
Response to Reply #10
23. Australians?
I've not heard anyone who wasn't from Australia use the term "moggy".
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muriel_volestrangler Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 12:24 PM
Response to Reply #23
31. It's British too
From the OED:

3. colloq. (chiefly Brit.) A (domestic) cat, esp. a non-pedigree or otherwise unremarkable one.
1911 J. W. Horsley I Remember xi. 254 Cockney slang‥moggies for cats.
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MineralMan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 10:27 AM
Response to Original message
11. When I was in high school, I dated a redhead. She had lots of
freckles on her face, so I asked her if she had freckles everywhere. She did.
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Mariana Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 10:49 AM
Response to Reply #11
18. My husband is like that, redheaded
with freckles everywhere. I think they're incredibly sexy. When the weather's nice, I ask him to take his shirt off outside so he'll grow more freckles.
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secondwind Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 10:28 AM
Response to Original message
12. I have candied ginger, which is of a pinkish-reddish color, LOL!
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Igel Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 11:45 AM
Response to Reply #12
24. The same as gari.
Which is the pickled ginger you eat with sushi. (I've made it from salt, vinegar, and fresh ginger. It turns pink on its own.)
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LeftinOH Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 10:28 AM
Response to Original message
13. British comedienne Catherine Tate is a "ginger". Her vision of a "ginger redhead refuge":
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999998th word Donating Member (555 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 11:00 AM
Response to Reply #13
19. My daughter -shes a 'ginger'
Even when she was 4 yr old I had some people ask me if I dyed her hair :wtf:

My niece-a beautician said red hair was a birth defect.She wasnt being mean

just something she was taught in beauty school-just didnt like the connotation.

I found out a few days ago here its something about chromosome 16 .

Yeah she's been called 'ginger' .The phrase I often hear + wonder about is 'treated

-or-beaten like a redheaded stepchild'-yuck.Were did that come from ?

I love my gingers. :loveya:
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rainbow4321 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 12:11 PM
Response to Reply #13
28. LOL!! Love that!
Saving it for my daughter to watch.

The part about the one ginger telling the blonde-ginger she is not a REAL ginger because "look, she has a TAN" as she exposes her arm!

That's my daughter...destined to never be tan. She is either burnt red or pale, pale white. Never anything in between!
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TheKentuckian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 10:35 AM
Response to Original message
14. I thought gingers were a subset of redheads with the light colored hair and freckles.
At least from South Park I get the idea that regular redheads are "day walkers".

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Matt_in_STL Donating Member (150 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 10:38 AM
Response to Original message
15. This is the perfect video for this topic
A song on prejudice from British comedian Tim Minchin

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KVN_0qvuhhw
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CountAllVotes Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 10:40 AM
Response to Original message
16. ask this gal here


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no_hypocrisy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 11:01 AM
Response to Original message
20. While I prefer "Titian" to "Ginger", I also prefer "Ginger" to "Carrot-top" any day.
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Iggo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 12:34 PM
Response to Reply #20
35. My best friend's nick-name was Red-Headed Mop-Top. (Late 1960's).
He didn't like it.
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Marr Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 11:02 AM
Response to Original message
21. First time I ever heard it was from Flight of the Conchords.
"People will call you ginger balls, they call you ginger balls... ginger balls..."
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Edweird Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 11:15 AM
Response to Original message
22. South Park FTW
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rainbow4321 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 12:00 PM
Response to Original message
25. My daughter is a ginger
As are a couple of her friends (they are all in their early 20's). To hear her explain it, you kinda have to be careful randomly calling fellow redheads "ginger" because to some it is an insult. She and her friends have embraced it, though. They even have what they call GNO.."ginger night out" when they all go out together for a night.

And there are times where people kinda tease her about the South Park episode...she's tried to find it online because she has never seen it.
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Igel Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 12:05 PM
Response to Original message
26. Ginger etymology.
mid-14c., from O.E. gingifer, from M.L. gingiber, from L. zingiberi, from Gk. zingiberis, from Prakrit (Middle Indic) singabera, from Skt. srngaveram, from srngam "horn" + vera- "body," so called from the shape of its root. But this may be Sanskrit folk etymology, and the word may be from an ancient Dravidian name that also produced the Malayalam name for the spice, inchi-ver, from inchi "root." Cf. gin (v.). The word apparently was readopted in M.E. from O.Fr. gingibre (Mod.Fr. gingembre). Meaning "spirit, spunk, temper" is from 1843, Amer.Eng. Ginger-ale recorded by 1822; ginger-snap as a type of cookie is from 1855, Amer.Eng.
(etymology.com, I think)

Note that while the usual ginger we use today is more yellow than orange, turmeric was formerly more common and is a ginger--and it's bright brownish-orange inside. There's a range of colors for both ginger and turmeric.

"White russet" is the pale version of a reddish cloth. Malinus is, I think, quince.

It pays to note that "ginger" is a perfectly fine way to mean "orange"--esp. since "orange" dates back to about the same time period. Earliest attested use that I can find reference to for "orange" is 1512, and apparently it wasn't in common usage until the 1540s.

In other words, English speakers suddenly had a need for a word that mean "yellow-red" (the old word for orange) and two popped up from foods: ginger and orange.
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Xithras Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 12:30 PM
Response to Original message
32. No idea, but it's been in general use since I was a kid.
Interestingly, we didn't really have a problem with kids teasing redheads when I was in school. Kids called me ginger, but it wasn't meant as a slur (freckleface, on the other hand, was fighting words). It was just a descriptive term that kids used back then.

That doesn't mean that it was NEVER used as a tease. I remember when we used to play organized Smear The Queer in PE (class vs. class), and the girls who opted out got to be the "cheerleaders". I don't know how it started, but it didn't take long for them to come up with a standard cheer to use when I got the ball..."Run, run, as fast as you can! You can't catch him, he's the GINGER-HEAD man!" They couldn't either...I was a quick SOB ;)
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Iggo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 12:31 PM
Response to Original message
33. Brits have been doing it for a long time.
Edited on Mon Apr-25-11 12:32 PM by Iggo
Only caught on here in the last 10 or 20 (as far as I can remember, anyway).
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librechik Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 12:33 PM
Response to Original message
34. it's a brit thing
small island very homogeneous. but some folks stick out as it were
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Snoutport Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 06:46 PM
Response to Original message
38. I AM A PROUD GINGER!! but I have noticed since that stupid south park
Edited on Mon Apr-25-11 06:46 PM by Snoutport
that people like to tease me about it. I got teased in elem. (carrot top, red-on-the-head-like-a-dick-on-dog, etc) but then nothing but compliments. In fact, I'd been hit on several times as an adult by people who really liked redheads. Then the southpark ginger episode...I've had at least a dozen people tell me I have no soul since that dumb-ass show aired.

I also have a ginger cat. he's very cute and also has a soul. I think.
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