Some sources from the United States believe that the word spic is a play on a Spanish-accented pronunciation of the English word "speak".  The Oxford English Dictionary takes spic to be a contraction of the earlier form spiggoty. The oldest known use of "spiggoty" is in 1910 by Wilbur Lawton in Boy Aviators in Nicaragua, or, In League with the Insurgents. Stuart Berg Flexner, in I Hear America Talking (1976), favored the explanation that it derives from "no spik Ingles" (or "no spika de Ingles").
However, in an earlier publication, the 1960 Dictionary of American Slang, written by Dr. Harold Wentworth, with Flexner as second author, "spic" is first identified as a noun for an Italian or "American of Italian ancestry", along with the words "spick" "spig" and "spiggoty", and confirms that it is shortened from the word "spaghetti" ('spiggoty' being closest in pronunciation). The authors refer to the word's usage in James M. Cain's Mildred Pierce, referring to a "wop or spig", and note that this term was never preferred over "wop", and has been rarely used since 1915. However, the etymology remains.  Other familiar sources simply say it is a shortened form of the word Hispanic. These theories follow standard naming practices, which include attacking people according to the foods they eat, such as spaghetti being eaten by Italians, (see Kraut and Frog) and for their failure to speak a language (see Barbarian and Gringo). Urban Dictionary calls this a "common misconception" but offers no alternative etymology apart from bring short for "Hispanic", which it describes identically.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2008-10-12. Retrieved 2008-11-07.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) Interactive Dictionary of Language. Accessed April 12, 2007.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2007-11-18. Retrieved 2007-04-13.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language. Accessed April 12, 2007.
- Santiago, Esmeralda. When I Was Puerto Rican. New York: Vintage Books, 1993.
- "spiggoty". Oxford English Dictionary (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press. September 2005. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.) citing as an etymology Amer. Speech XIII. 311/1 (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.
- Take Our Word for It June 21, 1999, Issue 45 of etymology webzine.
- Wentworth, Harold, and Flexner, Stuart Berg. The Dictionary of American Slang. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell, 1960, pp. 507.
- https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=spic&page=7 Accessed January 16, 2007.