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ELL Guide

A guide for ELL (English Language Learners) at the University of Maine at Augusta

Ugly American Definition & Explanation

The term "Ugly American" refers to a stereotype American travelers abroad acting pedantic and condescending, often loud and annoying.  In other words, the term refers to personality rather than physical appearance.   

The term was gained traction from a popular 1958 novel The Ugly American that was made into a film in 1963 with the same name.  Though the book centers on criticisms of American foreign policy and diplomacy, the term "Ugly American" usually refers to American travelers or tourists who are acting arrogantly or obnoxiously. 

A negative term, it is best advised to avoid usage.  

Accessibility Statement
The University provides reasonable accommodations to individuals with disabilities upon request. Any person with a disability who needs accommodations for a workshop should contact UMA Libraries at to submit a request. Due to the lead-time needed to arrange certain accommodations, individuals should submit their request no later 1 week before the event.