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Usage of the term Nips in the American cartoon Bugs Bunny Nips the Nips (1944)

Nip is an ethnic slur against people of Japanese descent and origin.[1][2] The word Nip is an abbreviation from Nippon (日本), the Japanese name for Japan.[2][3]


The earliest occurrence of the ethnic slur was probably in the Time magazine of 5 January 1942.[3] The American, British, and Australian entry of the Pacific Ocean theatre of World War II heightened the use of racial slurs against the Japanese, such as Jap and Nip.[3] The word Nip became a frequently-used slang word amongst the British Armed Forces.[3] The 1942 Royal Air Force journal made numerous references to the Japanese as Nips, even making puns such as "there's a nip in the air"[3] (this phrase was later re-used for Hirohito's visit to the UK in 1971 by the satirical magazine Private Eye[4]). As part of American wartime propaganda, caricatures and slurs (including Nip) against the Japanese diffused into entertainment,[5][6] such as exemplified by the Warner Bros.' cartoon Bugs Bunny Nips the Nips (1944).[6] In General Kenney Reports: A Personal History of the Pacific War (1949), George Kenney made racial statements about the Japanese, remarking for example that "Nips are just vermin to be exterminated".[7]


  1. ^ "Definition of Nip in English". Oxford Dictionaries. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 29 August 2013.
  2. ^ a b Savill, Richard (4 October 2006). "Vicar says sorry for 'nip in the air' Japanese joke". The Telegraph.
  3. ^ a b c d e Hughes, Geoffrey (2006). An Encyclopedia of Swearing. New York: M.E. Sharpe. p. 261-261. ISBN 978-0-7656-1231-1.
  4. ^ "Hirohito". The New Yorker. Vol. 69 no. 11–15. New Yorker Magazine, Inc. May 1993. p. 52.
  5. ^ Casey, Steven (2001). Cautious Crusade: Franklin D. Roosevelt, American Public opinion, and the War Against Nazi Germany. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 67. ISBN 0-19-513960-7.
  6. ^ a b Bennett, M. Todd (2012). One World, Big Screen: Hollywood, the Allies, and World War II. University of North Carolina Press. p. 102. ISBN 978-0-8078-3574-6.
  7. ^ Meilinge, Phillip S. (2001). Airmen and Air Theory: A Review of the Sources. Maxwell Air Force Base: Air University Press. p. 38. ISBN 1-58566-101-5.