This morning as I'm sure we all have, I was called by "Microsoft Tech Support". I wasted a half hour of their time saying I couldn't log in before they hung up.

Later I had told my Dad, as he asked if anyone called while he was gone. I replied with "Yeah, an Indian scammer working for Microsoft".

He got very angry with me for calling the man "Indian". He went on about how native Americans were classified as Indians untill the start of "Aboriginal" and that I was being extremely racist calling the man Indian.

He told me to look up why I can't, and so I did but what I had found all said it was fine, and to compare it to calling someone who's origin resides in Canada "Canadian".

So, I had told my dad what I'd found and he said it's different in Canada, specifically in BC because Aboriginals were classified as Indians. And saying "indian" people are going to assume I was talking about Aboriginals even in a context where I clearly refer to someone who's origin resides in India as "Indian".

So, assuming he is right, what do I call someone who was born, raised and resides in India?

closed as primarily opinion-based by sumelic, David, Chris H, AndyT, alwayslearning Jul 19 '17 at 17:03

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • It's not in the US - by the way that scam you are referring to is very nasty. It's extremely similar to the Cryptolocker scam which ransoms you for money by ciphering all your data and forcing you to pay money to unlock decipher it (there is simply no way to get it back without a reformat). Never ever give out info, personal details, etc... to someone who solicits you. That's the key rule. If you call that's different. If they call. Don't do it. – Kace36 Jul 19 '17 at 4:19
  • 6
    You call them Indian because that is what they are. They are from India so they are Indian. I can't, for the life of me, understand your father's point and he is definitely wrong. The only reason I can think up for him getting angry is that he thought the man you called Indian was native American. – Phil14 Jul 19 '17 at 5:11
  • 1
    @Phil14 Ya that's kinda what I thought too. – Kace36 Jul 19 '17 at 5:44
  • What is the correct term according to your dad? – dangph Jul 19 '17 at 7:45
  • 1
    As to Native Americans (as distinct from natives and inhabitants of Bharat), the term "Indian" is not commonly felt by them to be a slur or otherwise inappropriate: at the university where I teach, there is an Indian Studies program, an American Indian Resource Center, and a Council of Indian Students. "Native American" has its own problems as a term, as seemingly applicable to anyone born within the U.S.A. When possible, the most preferred terminology (if, again, an ethnic signifier is warranted at all) refers to the specific tribe or nation, as Ojibwe/Chippewa/Anishinaabe. – Brian Donovan Jul 19 '17 at 13:31

In the US, those who are residents of the nation of India can be called "Indian". Those whose ancestors lived in the Americas prior to Columbus are called "Native American". It can be considered a slur to call a Native American "Indian", but not a slur to call those from the nation of India "Indian". Americans who have ancestry from the Indian subcontinent may be called "Indian Americans".



Indian people are the people of India, the second most populous nation containing 17.50% of the world's population. "Indian" refers to nationality, but not ethnicity or language.

Indian Americans

Indian Americans or Indo-Americans are Americans whose ancestry belongs to any of the many ethnic groups of the Republic of India.

Native Americans

Native Americans are more commonly known as Indians or American Indians. The term Native American was introduced in the United States in preference to the older term Indian to distinguish the indigenous peoples of the Americas from the people of India, and to avoid negative stereotypes associated with the term Indian. Some academics believe that the term Indian should be considered outdated or offensive.

  • 2
    Good answer. Got a reference? – marcellothearcane Jul 19 '17 at 16:52
  • Great answer if credible sources are listed. – Davo Jul 19 '17 at 17:07
  • All because Christopher Columbus couldn't safely admit to his backers (Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella I of Castile) that he didn't reach his intended target the Indian subcontinent. – MikeJRamsey56 Jul 19 '17 at 20:42
  • I added sources as per comments. – afeygin Jul 19 '17 at 20:53
  • I bet you were a real party pooper whenever the other kids tried to play Cowboys and Autochthonous Peoples of the Americas, now weren't you? :) – tchrist Jul 16 at 4:10

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.