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American-Born Confused Desi

American-Born Confused Desi (ABCD) is a term used to refer to South Asian Americans born in the United States, in contrast to those who were born overseas and later settled in the USA.[1]


  • Neologism 1
  • Cultural implications 2
  • Movies 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • Further reading 6


ABCD or American-Born Confused Desi has become a polarizing factor in the South Asian diaspora in the US, with first-generation immigrant parents and young South Asians of second or latter generations.[2] Though the term was originally coined in reference to Indian-Americans, it has been adopted by the South Asian community at large. The term "desi" comes from the word "desh" (homeland) in Sanskrit. In Bengali language (Bangla), des is pronounced as "desh" and desi as "deshi". "Desi" means "of the homeland" and denotes anything or anyone from South Asia. The term has been commonly known since at least the 1980s.

The longer and lesser known form "American Born Confused Desi, Emigrated From Gujarat, House In Jersey" is also occasionally seen; playing on the alphabet theme, it has been expanded for K-Z variously as "Kids Learning Medicine, Now Owning Property, Quite Reasonable Salary, Two Uncles Visiting, White Xenophobia, Yet Zestful" or "Keeping Lotsa Motels, Named Omkarnath Patel, Quickly Reaching Success Through Underhanded Vicious Ways, Xenophobic Yet Zestful".[3] The former version of the A—Z expansion was proposed by South Asian immigrants as a reaction to the latter version that derogated them.[4]

Confused Americanized Desi (CAD) is a related term, which refers to people of South Asian origin who are both born and living in the subcontinent but tend to follow western lifestyle and values. Coconuts is also a term used which basically refers to people who are "white from the inside and brown from the outside".

Cultural implications

Among South Asian Americans, the term may be considered divisive, as first generation South Asian Americans use it to criticize the Americanization and lack of belonging to either Indian Asian or American culture they perceive in their second-generation peers or children.[5] Writer Vijay Prashad describes the term as "ponderous and overused" and notes it as one of the mechanisms by which new immigrants attempt to make second-generation youth feel "culturally inadequate and unfinished.".[6] The second-generation Indians, nonetheless, have treated first-generation Indians as "unpolished" and "villager-types". These segregations on both sides have led to the term ABCD and FOB being used.


The term American-Born Confused Desi first appeared in the movie American Desi (2001).

ABCD: American-Born Confused Desi is also a Malayalam movie released in India, in 2013. The film narrates the journey of two young American Malayalees to their motherland, Kerala, with the title based on the term "American-Born Confused Desi".

See also


  1. ^ Radhakrishnan, Rajagopalan, "Diaspora, Hybridity, Pedagogy", Peripheral Centres, Central Peripheries (ed. Ghosh-Schellhorn, Martina & Alexander, Vera), page 116, LIT Verlag Berlin-Hamburg-Münster, 2006, ISBN 3-8258-9210-7
  2. ^ Airriess, Christopher A., Contemporary Ethnic Geographies in America, page 287, Rowman & Littlefield, 2007, ISBN 0-7425-3772-2
  3. ^ Das, Diya (2007), The Evolution of an Identity: Indian American Immigrants from the Early 20th Century to the Present, Tribute Books, p. 60,  
  4. ^ Mitra Kalita, S., Suburban Sahibs, page 13, Rutgers University Press, 2005, ISBN 0-8135-3665-0
  5. ^ Skop, Emily. Ines Miyares, Christopher A. Airriess, ed. "Contemporary Ethnic Geographies in America". Rowman and Littlefield. p. 287.  
  6. ^ Prashad, Vijay (2000), The Karma of Brown Folk, University of Minnesota Press, p. 131,  

Further reading

  • V., Smitha (2002-03-05), "ABCDs: American Born Confused Desis",, retrieved 2008-04-17 
  • Hidier, Tanuja Desai (2002), Born Confused, New York: Scholastic Press,  
  • Kurella, Vidya (April 2005), "From Confused to Confident: How do you say your name?", ABCDlady: A Magazine for the American Born Confident Desi, retrieved 2008-04-17 
  • Hoque, Maher (Fall 2006), "A Former Coconut's Guide to Getting Cultured", Sapna Magazine Online, archived from the original on September 28, 2007, retrieved 2008-04-17 
  • Ojha, Ajay K., Humor: A distinctive way of speaking that can create cultural identity, Journal of Intercultural Communication Research, p. 161, Vol. 32, No. 3, September 2003. 
  • Souter, Kay; Raja, Ira (January 2008), "Mothering Siblings: Diaspora, Desire and Identity in American Born Confused Desi", Narrative (The Ohio State University Press) 16 (1): 16–28,  
  • George, Sam (May 2006), Understanding the Coconut Generation 
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