Boston City Council President Says Calling Little Alcohol Bottles ‘Nips’ Is Offensive

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Should Boston ban nips?

It’s a question the city council is exploring.

However, Boston city council president Ed Flynn of South Boston does not want people to use the term “nip.”

His reason? He says it is offensive to Japanese-Americans.

“Please note that it a common word referring to miniature alcohol bottles is also used as a slur against a person of Japanese descent, and must not be used,” Flynn said in a written statement he emailed to his media list. “I ask that we refer to these alcohol types as ‘miniature alcohol bottles,’ or ‘singles’ instead. At a time when there are increasing levels of anti-AAPI hate, it is even more critical that we ensure our words are not used for harm and discrimination. Words matter, and they should never be used to add to the flames of racism, sexism, and division.”

“AAPI” stands for “Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders.”

As Flynn points out, the term “nip” has a few different meanings.

However, the terms have different origins.

The racial slur “nip,” used against Japanese people, is an abbreviation of Nippon, the Japanese name of the country Japan, according to The London Telegraph.

Meanwhile, “nip,” in the sense of alcohol, is short for “nipperkin.”

“Nipperkin” is a term that was used in the English and Dutch languages in the 1600s and 1700s to describe a “quantity of beer or liquor of a half pint or less,” according to the Online Etymology Dictionary.

In its current usage, “nips” are 50- and 100-milliliter bottles of liquor. The term is mostly used in New England, according to Mel Magazine. Outside of New England, “singles” is the more common term to describe these small liquor bottles.

City Councilor Ricardo Arroyo of Hyde Park plans to submit a proposal that would ban nips in the city. However, the exact proposal has not yet been made public.

Ricardo’s main concern? People litter nip bottles.

“In the Hyde Park neighborhood of Boston, residents in efforts of reducing litter collected 10,000 nips in less than two months, highlighting the impact littering has on our communities,” Arroyo told WCVB.

Opponents of banning nips argue that it would lead to increased alcohol consumption as people would instead purchase larger containers of liquor.

Flynn and Arroyo could not be reached for comment on Tuesday or Wednesday.

Flynn has not yet said whether or not he would support a nip ban in Boston.


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