Craig White's Literature Courses

Terms / Themes


WASP = acronym for White Anglo-Saxon Protestant

W = White

A + S = Anglo-Saxon (i.e., of English-Germanic descent)

P = Protestant

"WASP" in mid-20th century speech became shorthand for the USA's dominant culture to which other ethnic groups were expected to assimilate.

The "Anglo-Saxon" component may be the most complicated or troublesome part, because it may partly exclude the Scotch-Irish, many of whom are of Celtic ethnicity.

Historical backgrounds:


Around the time of Christ, most of western Europe, especially France and Great Britain, were populated by Celts. The word "Celtic" is now mostly associated with "Celtic music" (fiddles, dulcimers; ballads of love, war, and loss, etc.) and Irish and Scottish peoples. The NBA's Boston Celtics took their name from Boston's large Irish population. Celtic people may often be identified by red or auburn hair, light eyes, and pink cheeks.

Around and after the time of Christ, the Romans colonized southern England, intermarrying with Celtic peoples and pushing exclusively Celtic peoples to the North (Scotland) and West (Ireland).

As the Roman Empire declined, in the 5th & 6th centuries CE the southern half of England was invaded by Germanic peoples from the continent.

These peoples were the Angles, the Saxons, and the Jutes.

Angles + Saxons = Anglo-Saxons

"English" < "Angles"

(These Germanic peoples also intermarried with Celts and Roman descendants.)



English is a Germanic language, though it has many other influences esp. re words < French, Latin, colonized languages

The English people are genetically and historically related to the German people.

Ideas of racial or linguistic purity are mostly myths or fantasies. Throughout and before history, human populations have migrated and mixed.

See TV Tropes: White Anglo-Saxon Protestant