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See also: Göök


Etymology 1[edit]

The word was used by U.S. Marines in the early 20th century;[1][2] the earliest written example is dated 1920.[3]

Folk etymology suggests that during the Korean War, young Korean children would point at U.S. soldiers and shout in Korean 美國 (Miguk, America). Soldiers heard the word as “me gook”, as if the children were defining themselves as “gooks”. The soldiers proceeded to use that term to refer to the Koreans. The word (, guk) itself simply means “country”. This explanation ignores the fact that there are many examples of the word's use that pre-date the Korean War.


  • IPA(key): /ɡuk/;[1] IPA(key): /ɡʊk/ (less common)
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -uk, -ʊk


gook (plural gooks)

  1. (slang, vulgar, derogatory, offensive, ethnic slur) A person of Far Eastern or Oceanian descent, especially a Vietnamese, Filipino, Chinese, Japanese or Korean person.
    1. (US, derogatory) A Vietnamese insurgent in the Vietnam War, particularly a member of the Viet Cong.
  2. (dated) A foreigner, especially an enemy soldier in wartime.
    1. (Rhodesia, derogatory) A black insurgent in the Rhodesian Bush War.
      • 1997, Dick Gledhill, One Commando: Rhodesia's Last Years & the Guerilla War it Never Lost, p. 55:
        "But shit, man, don't we do a fucking good job of it. Jesus, we slew long gooks this last trip," quipped Mark.
Usage notes[edit]
  • In the US, gook refers especially to a Vietnamese person in the context of the Vietnam War, and particularly to the Viet Cong. It is generally considered to be highly offensive, on par with nigger.
Derived terms[edit]

Etymology 2[edit]

Possible blend of goop +‎ gunk.



gook (plural gooks)

  1. (informal) Grime or mud.
    • 1983, Len O'Connor, A Reporter in Sweet Chicago[1], →ISBN, page 351:
      "Roost No More" was a yellow gook that Joe's people would spread around, for a fee, on the ledges of houses and commercial buildings plagued by pigeons.
Derived terms[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 gook” in Unabridged,, LLC, 1995–present.
  2. ^ Pearson, Kim, “Gook”.
  3. ^ Seligman, Herbert J., “The Conquest of Haiti”, in The Nation, July 10, 1920.