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What are Ginger Jokes?

By Lee Johnson
Updated May 16, 2024
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The term "ginger" is used in British English to describe people with red hair. Ginger jokes are jokes told at the expense of individuals with red hair. These jokes can play on many different perceived stereotypes, but largely make use of the idea that ginger-haired people are either aggressive or sexually deviant. Ginger jokes have been reported to cause offense and have led to the term “gingerism,” which is defined as racism against people with ginger hair.

Most ginger jokes are based on the idea that ginger people are angry. This likely comes from the association between the color red and fiery behavior. Examples of these jokes include “What is the difference between a terrorist and a redhead? You can negotiate with a terrorist,” and “How do you know when a redhead has been using a computer? There is a hammer embedded in the monitor."

Other ginger jokes are harsher in nature, implying that ginger-haired people are undesirable. One such joke tells the story of a father, nervously pacing outside a delivery room and waiting for news of his baby. The midwife comes out to tell him that his baby has been delivered, but adding that there is good news and bad news. Panicked, the father inquires as to the nature of the bad news. The midwife tells him that his baby has been born ginger haired. The father emits a shriek of horror and asks what the good news is. The midwife says, “Your baby was also born dead.” This joke could easily also play as a slur against a race of people or a physical difference.

Another stereotype has emerged regarding ginger-haired people, which has also spawned a slew of ginger jokes. The idea is that ginger-haired people are particularly sexually forceful or deviant. This notion has prompted jokes such as “How do you know when you’ve satisfied a redhead? She unties you” and “What’s the difference between a lawyer and a redhead? There are some things even a lawyer won’t do to people.”

Ginger jokes have appeared on television and in the movies, and was the basis of an entire episode of the cartoon comedy South Park. The prejudice against red-haired people tends to be a U.K.-based phenomenon. Famous ginger-haired people include Winston Churchill, Queen Elizabeth the First, Carrot Top, and Henry the Eighth.

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Discussion Comments

By AnswerMan — On Dec 28, 2014

I think there is a difference between a redhead and a "ginger". I have been around a lot of natural and unnatural redheads in my life, and most of them have the same personalities as blondes or brunettes. Their hair color didn't automatically change them into violence-prone, temperamental hotheads, like those ginger jokes would suggest. I would say that most of my redheaded friends enjoy telling funny ginger jokes themselves, and aren't especially offended if others tell them.

I will say that there are some people who definitely qualify as "gingers", though. They do get highly offended at ginger jokes that make them sound stupid or volatile or mean. If I had red hair, I'd probably be offended by those jokes, too. I've seen those videos @mrwormy described, and that guy is definitely acting like a "ginger", which I think is actually part of the joke.

By mrwormy — On Dec 28, 2014

It always seems like these kinds of jokes run in cycles. First there were blonde jokes, then redneck jokes and now ginger jokes. I grew up hearing ethnic jokes about Polish and Irish immigrants, too. I have to admit some of these "stupid" jokes are actually pretty funny, but I also feel bad for the group they ridicule.

I remember there was a guy on the Internet a few years ago who posted rants against anyone who told funny ginger jokes. He had red hair and pale skin himself, and he would work himself into a lather while he delivered a screaming, obscenity-filled monologue about the plight of gingers. I think it started out as a real response from the butt of a lot of ginger jokes, but then he became more of an Internet celebrity because of those videos.

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