Is "Hebe" a racial slur?

After seeing this thread: For the Hebes (sp) - Miscellaneous and Personal Stuff I Must Share - Straight Dope Message Board closed because it used a “racial slur” I asked my wife and she disagreed and so do I. FWIW, we are both Jewish else I wouldn’t have brought it up.

In fact, there are some people who seem reluctant to use “Jew” as though that were a racial slur too. So they use periphrastic descriptions such as “a Jewish man/woman”.

The cited post was a friendly “Shana Tova” (Happy New Year) greeting and clearly not intended as anything nasty and I think that Twikster over reacted.

I’d put it in the “not fucking wise or classy” category at the very least.

I grew up in an area with a fair portion of Jews. I don’t remember hearing anyone use “Hebe” there, and first remember hearing it on TV from Archie Bunker. It came across as a bit crude and impolite, but not mean and derogatory like “kike.”

I’d never heard of it until about 5 minutes ago.

I was under the impression it was a racial slur. The first time I heard it used was in the film Die Hard when Ellis is talking to Hans about who he was mad at, “Maybe you’re pissed at the camel Jockeys, maybe it’s the Hebes, Northern Ireland, that’s none of my business.”

In context, I figured it was a racial slur at worst, at best something not used in even semi-polite company.

Since it seems to me to be based off of “Hebrew,” I’d say it’s a religious slur.

I don’t how the term ‘slur’ has been applied here on the board. For instance is ‘Mick’ a slur for an Irish person? In this case it’s been derelevanced by the mods, but maybe this thread should be in ATMB for future reference.

If it’s based of them being Hebrew, I’d say ethnic slur. If it’s based off being Jewish, and thus speaking Hebrew, I would say religious slur.

I think Mick is an ethnic slur.

Hebe to me is a word like fag or nigger. Ok for members of the group to use among themselves, but usually a horrid insult when coming from people from outside. I would look askance at a non-Jew who called me “hebe” unless we were really tight friends; though I’ve heard worse it’s not at all nice.

Basically the thread struck me as not exactly offensive but, coming from a person I don’t know? Presumptuous at best.

ETA: its more of an ethnic slur than a racial slur, since as far as I know “jewish” is not a “race” that our culture agrees exists.

Yeah, I think it is.

I’m a white Christian girl so maybe I don’t know. But I’d never say it.

Is “Mick” used in a derogatory manner.

I’ve never heard “Hebe” used in any manner other than derogatory. But I’m not Jewish and I haven’t heard it very often.

Merriam Webster:

Urban dictionary:


Even if not a slur it’s not a term that everyone can be expected to have heard before; I had to google it.

Since this is mainly related to a moderating decision, it’s more appropriate to ATMB than IMHO.

Yes, it’s a slur. You could call it a religious or ethnic slur instead of racial, but a slur it is.

The person who used it knew what it meant, and so did the mods and many of the other people who read it.

You are correct, it is a religious slur or an ethnic slur – I misspoke when I called it a racial slur.

It is, however, a slur – I certainly have never heard it used in any other way.

Well, I once saw a Jewish friend of mine launch himself, fists flying, at another friend who called him a “f**kin’ Hebe” in a moment of pique, so yeah, it gets used as a slur, and evokes the response you would expect.

In almost any other context I would think its short for hebrew, in the context relevant here it’s a slur.

Okay, I’ll clarify my previous… I have always heard it used to refer to people because of their religion (I don’t know anybody here in the states who speaks Hebrew who isn’t Jewish), so, religious slur.

I agree with **HelloAgain **- it’s OK if Jews call each other hebes, but not ok for people outside the group to use.

I don’t get any ‘in-group’ free passes. Except nerd. Feh.