Etymology of Phrase Ugly American

Etymology of Phrase Ugly American
Mark says, the term “Ugly American” should be against the rules of acceptable use, I do not know, maybe they call it the TOS, terms of service. I was telling him on a call that I am going to write something again about the Book and Movie called
“The Ugly American.”

The quandary of whether this term should be included in now has my attention first, is it fair game to use this term in Wiki? There are two links on the Encyclopedia site, one of for the book and the other is for the term.

Mark says,
“The term “Ugly American” should not be in Wiki.”
I laugh,
“The Wiki is full of Germans who want to get back at the USA.”

Well, this is good; the Wiki does have Euro Trash.

It does not have “Brits Abroad.” or “Canadian Flag Wavers,” or the best yet, “Germans in Rubber Pants.” Gee, it should include for sure the “Brits Abroad.”

All these phrases are analogous to the “Ugly American,” in usage, I use them all the time, I for sure use Euro Trash, I enjoy stereotypes, it dis-enables the power the European mental midgets believe they have over me… People call you a name, you defend yourself, but the only true way is quid pro quo, you need to give them back the same.

I more or less decided about five years ago, I had enough of my what I call my “Mean Older Brother.” I truly have no need to associate with the “Brits Abroad,” who have a chronic case of “Take the Piss,” truly an annoying idiosyncrasy and prevalent in “Brits Abroad.”



The Encarta dictionary defines "Ugly American" as stereotypical offensive American: a loud, boorish, nationalistic American, especially one traveling abroad, who is regarded as conforming to a stereotype that gives Americans a bad reputation.

In contrast, defines "the Ugly American" as: Pejorative term for Americans traveling or living abroad who remain ignorant of local culture and judge everything by American standards.

Fun stuff this “Ugly American” term and closely related to racism, but not the same. Anyone who uses the terms the “Ugly American” needs to take great care, or they will expose just how stupid they are, I can tell instantly whether they have read the book.

Why am I talking about this, well, the stereotype of loud, boorish Americans does exist. There are archetypes for this behavior in a few major groups.

1. US Military Abroad
2. United States Embassy People.
3. Non Governmental Agencies
4. Missionaries from USA
5. The lovely youth of the USA going to Europe as Backpackers.

The Etymology of the Archetypes that created these stereotypes is my muse; I need to visit more and more countries until I know how the world works… Hehehe.

TMI - Too Much Information

Use this phrase the “Ugly American” with great care, if you are going to use it, please read the book and watch the movie first. I just purchased the Movie on, I have been waiting for years to see this movie by accident, and I am forcing the issue.

I feel and believe “a truly ugly person” is a person who does not know, who thinks they know, more or less they talk in an authoritative voice when it should be passive. (Probably describes me.)

Hmm, note that is truly bad manners to make generalized stereotypical comments directly at one person. This implies that the person encapsulates the stereotype. It is not acceptable to sit around with Brits talking about “Brits Abroad.” On the other hand, I am not prone to sitting around with Brits unless they can be proper, have some good form and stop “Taking the Piss.”

Someday, I will understand more about the Stereotype of Germans in Rubber pants, and why this is a stereotype. I will wait until Wiki decides to include, all if fair game when we start down this slippery path.

Jack a Canadian told me the best advice,
“Andy, remember, many countries lost wars to the USA, they want payback.”

I am going to watch the movie on about October 25, I will then revisit this subject with more zest, armed with more and more stereotypes misuse, abuse and provoke you brain from sleep mode to run, many of you are sleeping, wake up, feel the flowers.

There is nothing better to wake a sleeping brain than to use words in a twisted manner, truly a joy to a person who wants to talk. Truly an annoyance when the PC Police - "Politically Correct Police" catch us. Heaven forbid I misspell a word, that would be a sin, or include a sentence fragment, you would have to take your mind of cruise, step on the brake, wake up!

Etymology of Phrase Ugly American


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Ever read the book (or see the movie(s) ) The Quiet American by Graham Greene? About a "quiet" American in 19Saigon who we eventually find is an "Ugly" American.

I watch half one time, sort of slow movie "The Quiet American." I also purchased it on Amazon, and have now included in in the Amazon story so people can buy.

Truly this store is expensive, but a great way of showing products. I suppose on the books it is cheap, but the gear is normally double or triple what I pay.

I am going to add movies, books, etc as I remember.

Truly the phrase the Ugly American is cliche, truly is just an insult, used by non-Americans to try to make a clever insult. 99 percent of the people who use it are just copying others.

However, when I revisit the phrase, after I watch the movie. I want to explore who helps to give us this phrase and why. I realized the other day, Soldiers or Military people, or anyone traveling and not paying the tab or bill can be problems. I never feel safe, I always know I can run out of money if I make a mistake. I have no big brother with unlimited money to bail me out. The soldiers have this, they truly are under the wing of protection, they are traveling or with training wheels.

Creates a bad formula for culture, a bunch of 20 year old men, drunk, paid, and read to cause a headache. Same for Embasssy, Missionaries, etc.

HOZ you beat me too it.

Too bad "Quiet American" did not become the catch phrase. Instead of a copy cat of the Quiet American book was rewrote/stolen "The Ugly American" just as the tensions in Vietnam where taking off and they threw a bucket of money at Marlin Brando so as to attract a worldwide audience. Can't sell a movie starring Brando as "QUIET"......... The rest is history.

BUT ask any dirt poor person in Asia or most of the world except the lunatic Arab parts and ask them how they feel about Americans and you get a overwhelming "very Nice" ,kind,handsome,generous etc on and on. You do not get the same response about other nationalities. You will get the word "Cheap,British,
Funny Irish,
Bad Arabs
Angry Germans,
Rude Israels,No Good Indians,Drink to much Australians,Chinese cheap,Africans Bad Danger..,
Swedish. handsome,pretty, good . French not nice.

your not going to get a detailed report but you can tell from a few simple words good bad cheap and there facial expressions what they think and they mostly think were a good crew. Not so much of the rest of the world. Although everyone does seems to love the Irish, except the Brits but that's another story.

Why would the third world risk their lives to come to America ? So we can mistreat them like we do when we travel ? ?????

Well, I personally never claimed to be that cute, but I think ugly is a little over the top :)


too many americans (usa variety) are loud mouthed and obnoxious.

this is not to say that all are like this but too many fall into this category.

recently i met a buinessman from north carolina.
he was a gentleman in the true sense.
head of a large manufacturing concern and a humble man into the bargain.

pity other americans (usa variety) could not follow suit.

then you would have less ugly americans.


Geoff I could write books on my beliefs why Tourist or Travelers act the way they do. If you want to judge people of a country, you need to go visit the country.

I do not like Americans in Europe.
I like Americans normally in Guatemala.
I do not like Americans in Philippines.
I do not like Americans in Thailand.
I like Americans in Laos.

I like Americans in the state of Indiana, I am not sure in New York or California.

I love stereotypes and I in a way agree people should not stereotype. By me describing the Ugly American I create more people who wil use this stereotype.

A stereotype is a slice of culture. Geoff you wrote,
"recently i met a buinessman from north carolina.he was a gentleman in the true sense.head of a large manufacturing concern and a humble man into the bargain."

THIS is a stereotype, however what you consider a good stereotype, another person can see this person as a completely different person. People need to recognize the "Stereotype" they like.

Please try to recognize the CULTURES you like, try to recognize the CULTURES you love, avoid one and go visit the other. He is a funny, Americans will follow the leader and make horrible comments about the French, however France is one of the first place people want to visit from the USA.

Geoff from Australia you also are showing your great love for Americans, generally known as USA type, you do not need to qualify unless in Central or South America.

by typing with no capital letters, fragments, you create a stereotype

In the end Travelers and Tourist go to tourist destinations they are pointed at, they truly do not know why generally, they are just following some idea told to them. A person must know themselves.

I have just spent another 3 months in the Philippines, it is obvious to me that I have a love/ hate relationship with this country.

I can honestly say I HATE about half the culture in this country.

I can honestly say I LOVE about half the culture in this country.

I truly wish it was 50 percent love and 50 percent mildly annoyed, but in reality there is some true crap in this country. That is my opinion, that is not the opinion of people who live here, unless they would happen to listen to themselves talking about the Filipino people.

I will never write clearly about a culture, it just is not real, it would be a lie, any writer that explains a country as loving, fun and wonderful is a liar, this places is nirvana and it does not exist.

On the other hand, there are Alcoholicy dysfunctional minds that are so sick they live in the land of delusion so far, there will never escape. A person does not need to drink to be dysfuntional... hehehe

All through the mid 80s to the mid 90s maybe 80 of our Manila guests were Europeans, 50 of whom were German speaking ( Austrian German or Swiss ). So occasionally a guest would make some complimentary comment about our guesthouse or my wife and I so I would counter with something like "No I'm just a typical dumb, fat, lazy, loud mouth American" and these somewhat sheepish introverts would burst out laughing as I verbalized their inner opinions of Americans.

American individual's "CAN DO" attitude, their emotional excitability and open sharing attitude is refreshing compared to many peoples on this earth. But the American military's 18 to 22 year olds stationed around the world living in American "island" bases in prime areas around the world getting drunk and roudy on the twice a month paydays have done alot to give this "ugly American" opinion of Americans abroad. Don't forget the Europeans consider our American gene pool is made up of the world's rejects, former criminals, debtors and "serfs" many of whom after prospering in the States felt the need to go back to "the old country" of their origin to flaunt their successes.

Americans are the best tourists bare none period, You know it. You know it the third world knows it.

God Bless the USA

Yes, the American youth in the military forget that they are leaving first impressions about America to others who have never been to this continent. Perhaps the US miltary should istill an ethics class in basic training?lol

I like your other suggested term you think Wiki should also include.

I read the book "The Ugly American" when t first came out, though I haven't read it since or seen the movie. As I recall, the truly obnoxious Americans in foreign countries -- NGOs, Military, Foreign Service, etc. -- were generally well educated and physically beautiful or handsome (at lest in their own eyes). They generally also thought they were (are) better than the local population, primarily because America is technologically more advanced.

The really decent and helpful American is a farmer from the U.S. who goes to a third world country (more or less on his own) and treats the locals as equals -- they engage on the same level. The farmer helps the locals by showing them improved farming techniques, to increase their crop yields and thus reduce hunger. This man, among all the Americans in the country, is about the only one the locals like and approve of, and he is decidedly ugly -- at lest by American standards.

So, the phrase refers to persons who are unattractive on the outside, but very warm-hearted on the inside, not vice-versa. Please correct me if I am wrong.

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