Why are redheads called gingers?

+52 votes
asked Jul 30, 2015 in Culture & Society by DaciaRingros (270 points)
One of my best friend’s has red hair, pale skin, and freckles like the typical “ginger” stereotype and she hates when people call her this. Not everyone uses it in a mean way, but it’s definitely known as a negative slang word. I’ve never understood where this word came from. Why are redheads called gingers?

6 Answers

+29 votes
answered Oct 9, 2015 by Kelsea (1,000 points)
One of the very earliest uses of the word “ginger” as a relation to color was in reference to chickens of a sandy coloring. The outside of raw ginger root was very similar to the color of these chickens, so it’s easy to see where this idea came from. So originally light redheads were called gingers because of this relation, and eventually it stuck for all redheads.
+10 votes
answered Oct 5, 2015 by DaisyWicks6 (380 points)
A lot of ginger-flavored food has a reddish tint and might be why are redheads called gingers. Consider ginger cake, gingerbread, and ginger snap cookies. All of these foods have a rusty, red color to them.
+8 votes
answered Sep 29, 2015 by Emily (940 points)
One of the biggest stereotypes about redheads is that they have a fiery, aggressive temper. So redheads being called gingers might come from the fact that the ginger root is also known for being used give some kick to the food it’s cooked with. Both are considered to “pack a punch” so to speak.
+4 votes
answered Oct 11, 2015 by MiloOswalt53 (270 points)
Sometimes slang words come from popular icons. One of the first redheaded celebrities during the time of color photography was named Ginger Rogers, and she could be part of the reason why redheads started being called gingers. Redheads have always been considered exotic, and a redheaded actress at this time when color photography was getting big could have had a big impact on this word.
commented Oct 18, 2015 by HeleneMcGarv (130 points)
I think this is why are redheads called gingers.
+4 votes
answered Oct 14, 2015 by RoxanneBurd7 (240 points)
Particularly in America, I think people started calling redheads gingers because of the TV show South Park. The character Cartman constantly shows distaste for redheads and calls them gingers frequently. I noticed a big increase of people using this word after the show got popular, and there’s even an episode dedicated to the ginger stereotype.
0 votes
answered Oct 24, 2015 by BridgettScar (160 points)
Sitcoms and TV are notorious for starting trends, and nicknames are no different. The 60’s sitcom Gilligan’s Island had two female characters, Mary Ann and Ginger. The character Ginger happened to have red hair and pale skin. So people might have started calling redheads gingers during this time because of the association with the popular Ginger on TV.
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