In 1964 the book
The Protestant Establishment: Aristocracy and Caste in
America by E. Digby Baltzell was published and a new acronym entered
common discourse. What was it?
Etymology, Etymology, and more Etymology
as well as grammar, usage, euphemism, slang, jargon, semantics (meaning), linguistics, neologism, idiom, word origin, syntax, dialect, lexicon (vocabulary), diction, pidgin, synonym, antonym, homonym, cant, argot, lingo, and redundancy.
The critically-acclaimed board game
consists of tough questions about the nuances of the English language.
The acronym WASP stands for White
According to the American Heritage
Dictionary, it denotes "a white, usually Protestant member of the
American upper social class." Baltzell, a University of Pennsylvania
sociologist, popularized the word.
Online Etymology Dictionary claims that he also
coined it. But other sources state that it was coined in 1962 by Erdman Palmore
[another sociology professor, I believe].
If anyone has further information about this
etymology, please let me know.
Please note that these are draft questions for the board game MooT.
If you spot an error or disagree with anything I've said here,
please let me know and I'll fix it.
Since anglo-saxons are necessarily white (or
at least sort of beige) maybe a better acronym would be
Yes, we've all been stung by this one before...
Aren't all anglo-saxons white? it should be
ASP, which is fairly apt as well - at least in its common
usage, don't mean to offend..
Use of the term WASP has broadened significantly
since its coinage.
Today any English-speaking Protestant
of European descent may be called a "WASP", though most are
not descended from Angles, Saxons, or members of closely-related tribes. Jews,
Catholics, and Orthodox Christians are excluded.
usage is ahistoric, simplistic, and trite: white Protestants in the U.S.
comprise myriad national backgrounds and denominations. WASP
was also the acroynm used to describe female pilots during World War II: The
acroynm was also used to describe A member of Women's Airforce Service Pilots,
organized during World War II as part of the U.S. Army Air Forces to ferry
aircraft and to test new aircraft. The organization was disbanded in
Here's what I found in
A member of the American white
Protestant middle or upper class descended from early European settlers in the
U.S. Freq. derog.
1962 E. B. PALMORE in Amer.
Jrnl. Sociol. LXVII. 442/2: For the sake of brevity we will use the
nickname 'Wasp' for this group, from the initial letters of 'White Anglo-Saxon
1963 Times 2 May 15/5:
There is such a thing as a 'Human Engineering Laboratory'; whether a man is a
Wasp (white Anglo-Saxon Protestant) can decide his career.
1963 New Statesman 10 May 716/2: This year's
executive model will be over six feet tall, clean-shaven, lean, and with large
fleshy ears... He should try to be or pretend to be a WASP (White Anglo-Saxon
Protestant) and ought to have gone to an Ivy League college, preferably
1964 E. D. BALTZELL Protestant
Establishment (1965) i. 9,: I should first like to show how the
aristocratic process still worked quite well in the case of the family of
Abraham Lincoln, and especially how the WASP establishment authoritatively
retained the leadership of American society in the generation of Robert Todd
1968 Times Lit. Suppl. 4 Apr. 329/1
: The Jew can choose to leave his ghetto by 'passing' or by breaking
the more and more flimsy barriers put up by Wasp (and non-Wasp) anti-Semitism,
but the Negro cannot....
Assistant Professor Department of English Kent State
Copyright 1998-2008 Blair Arts Ltd. All rights reserved.