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In the movie Groupers, there's an exchange like so (about 73'55" in).

Now, will you please turn off the spigot?
Ooh, that's racist.
Spigot is not racist.

As I googled spigot, it's a faucet/tap providing a water flow (which is a part of the scene of the conversation). I also googled why is spigot racist but got no relevant hits, as far I could tell.

How is spigot interpreted to be racist? I've never heard the word used in the official sense before, let alone as a bigot and derogatory racist expression.

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  • I haven't seen the movie, but I've never heard "spigot" used in any way that could be construed as racist. There is the expression "turn off the spigot" to tell someone who's talking too much (ranting) to stop. But if you say the scene involves an actual spigot then this probably isn't the intended meaning. Maybe it's a hyperbole on the current societal trend of more and more things being considered racist.
    – TypeIA
    Commented Sep 26, 2020 at 16:45
  • @TypeIA Okay, so at least I'm not the only one baffled at the racist aspect of the word. And to reiterate, yes, there's an actual, empty pool with two guys in it. They're tied up and their genitalia are connected by a Chinese finger traper as a part of the plot to prove that homosexuality is a choice. The pool is slowly being filled, as the conversation takes place. The only minority present in the context is a gay guy but it doesn't seem as the dialogue refers to him. Commented Sep 26, 2020 at 16:51
  • Some people simply look for anything remotely racist. Just ignore it -- there are more important things to worry about, like Covid19.
    – BillJ
    Commented Sep 26, 2020 at 17:38

4 Answers 4

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The interaction was probably intended to be humorous.

The character who claimed the word is racist was probably meant to be confusing spigot with a certain racial slur for a person of Hispanic origins that begins with s.

This may have been meant to deride people who consider the term niggardly to be racist, despite the word having no etymological connection to the highly offensive and racist n-word.

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Like others here I was unfamiliar with the word "spiggoty" and assumed that in the film, the comment about the word "spigot" was a reference to the slightly (but not very) similar-sounding slur "spic".

However, when I checked in the Oxford English Dictionary whether it was true that "spic" was derived from "Hispanic", I found that actually it is derived from an older slur "spiggoty", defined by the OED as "U.S. slang A contemptuous name for a Spanish-speaking native of Central or South America". The OED states that the origin of the word "spiggoty" is unknown (and that it has been largely superseded by "spic") but that it is usually assumed to be a representation of broken English. It cites a publication called American Speech which stated in 1938:

‘Spiggoty’ originated in Panama during Construction Days, and is assumed to be a corruption of ‘spikee de’ in the sentence ‘No spikee de English’, which was then the most common response of Panamanians to any question in English.

Merriam-Webster defines "spiggoty" as follows:

dated slang, disparaging + offensive : spic (M-W)

(Of course, the word "spigot" isn't racist and has no relation to the slur, but it is likely that it is this older term "spiggoty" that the scriptwriters had in mind when devising the dialogue.)

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I consider myself at least halfway well-read, and don't remember EVER having seen this expression (spigotty) in print. Hope that's not presumptuous.

The "assumed" derivation, being a corruption of a corruption, scarcely justifies a dictionary entry. Not sure that appearing once in 1938 really qualifies.

I agree with "Some people simply look for anything remotely racist. Just ignore it" in this context. I guess this is not really an improvement: just a comment.

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It has been used in reference to ranting bigots. According to Ethan Pow on Urban Dictionary:

Slang: A Bigot that Spews out an intolerant message toward those holding different opinions as a means to support an inaccurate or false claim. Supporting the idea the world(or region) would be better without those individuals. Generally, a Spigot is one that can spread their message from their position of power to excel their agenda.

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    Urban Dictionary is a mixed bag of actual slang and nonce words, so it's not particularly trustworthy on its own. Do you have any other examples of "spigot" being used in this sense? I also don't think this fits into the original context, which implies that "spigot" may be some racial slur.
    – Laurel
    Commented Oct 24, 2022 at 12:34

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