Zipperhead – Meaning, Origin and Usage

Did a 70-year-old man just call you a “zipperhead”? What does it mean? IS it some sort of sexual innuendo? This post unpacks the meaning and origin of this expression.


The term “zipperhead” is a derogatory racial slur against someone of Asian descent. Specifically, it refers to Korean and Vietnamese people. During the Korean and Vietnamese wars, American soldiers developed a range of racial slurs describing their enemy.

While these phrases and slurs were acceptable at the time, they are no longer tolerated in modern society. Society now values tolerance and freedom more than prejudice. Using the term “zipperhead” in the United States or Canada may land you with hate speech charges filed against you.

If you’re found guilty of hate speech, it’s possible for the court to sentence you to jail time. Therefore, using the language on social media platforms like Twitter could land you in a lot of trouble with people.

If you hear people using “zipperhead” when they are yelling at Asian people, they are racists, and you should walk away from them and call the police. Don’t engage hateful people as it may land you in trouble.

Example Usage

“Did you hear Clint Eastwood in that movie where he was a grumpy old man? He used so many racial slurs in the film that I’m surprised people sided with him as the hero. He was a terrible human being.”

“Did you know those racist American soldiers would refer to Vietnamese people as ‘zipperheads?’ You won’t believe me if I told you why.”

“Vietnam was a shameful period in American history. The government so many young Americans to die at the hands of those gooks and zipperheads.”

“A zipperhead almost took out Frank and me at the last base. We turned the tables on him and ran over him with the jeep.”

“There is no reason for anyone to ever refer to a Vietnamese person as a ‘zipperhead’ again. The war is over, and society moved on from hate.”

“The only good zipperhead is a dead one. When we were in the war, the gooks would try and kill us every night. If we didn’t keep watch 24/7, we would never have made it through the night.”


The expression “zipperhead” originates from the Vietnamese and Korean wars of the 60s and 70s. There are several supposed origins of this racial slur, and both of them are nothing short of horrific.

The first is that American soldiers would aim for the forehead, and the machine-gun fire would elevate the rifle barrel as they fired, resulting in a zipper-like opening of the forehead.

The second origin comes from Vietnamese and Korean soldiers on the frontlines that would be run over by American troops in jeeps. The tire pattern imprinted on the soldier would lead to the creation of the term because it looked like a zipper pattern.

Phrases Similar to Zipperhead

  • Other racial slurs towards Asian people.

Phrases Opposite to Zipperhead

  • Vietnamese person.

What is the Correct Saying?

  • Zipperhead.

Ways People May Say Zipperhead Incorrectly

Some people may think it's acceptable to use a racist slur like "zipperhead” in modern society. However, racism is unacceptable in any form towards any race. If you hear someone use the term against someone else, it means that they are emotionally unstable and hateful human beings.

Acceptable Ways to Phrase Zipperhead

The phrase "zipperhead” is a racist slur against Asian people. Therefore it is not suitable for use in any conversation, ever. If you're using "zipperhead” in reference to someone from Vietnam, you're telling them that you would crush their skull with a jeep tire as you ran over them.

It's a very hateful moniker and should remain in the past rather than have a place in the future. So, using it in conversation is a no-go. If you use "zipperhead” in comments online, you could face charges for hate speech crimes.

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