ABCD / American-Born Confused Desi (Slang)
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ABCD stands for the phrase American-Born Confused Desi, a slang term used to describe second-generation South Asian Americans, typically those of Indian, Pakistani or Bangladeshi origins. An "ABCD" is understood to have been born or raised in the United States in contrast to having been born overseas and later settled in the US. The word "confused" is used to describe the supposed struggle South Asian Americans face in trying to balance traditional values and larger American cultural sentiments that may be at odds with each other.
ABCD was a term originally used to refer to Indian Americans, but the term has since been adopted by other people of South Asian descent. The term "desi" originates from the Hindi word "desh" or homeland, and "desi" is a term generally used to refer to people of South Asian descent as well.
An August 31st, 1989 article by Rekha Basu in India Today is the earliest known use of the phrase "American-Born Confused Desi" on the internet. The article contained anecdotes from writers of Awaaz, a magazine run by and geared towards Indian Americans. The byline reads:
Popularly known as American Born Confused 'Desis' (ABCDs), many Indian children brought up in the US confront the familiar dilemma of being torn between two cultures. Trying to adapt socially but looking foreign, burdened by the contradictory expectations of their Indian parents and American peers, uncertain of which heritage to claim as their own, and without a sense of belonging, they seem destined to be misfits in both cultures. For them, youth is often a time of crisis.
On November 6th, 1999, the movie ABCD, directed by Krutin Patel, was released. On April 19th, 2012, YouTube channel OfficialSheetalSeth posted the earliest known trailer for the film (seen below).
The subreddit /r/ABCDesis has been active since September 7th, 2013, and as of May 2023, it has reached nearly 73 million members.
On March 18th, 2022, TikToker @jay.vakil posted a video using the phrase ABCD, gathering over 11,000 plays and 1,000 likes in a year (seen below, left). On November 3rd, 2022, TikToker @gill.gurvir posted a video captioned, "What It's Like Being ABCD," gathering over 200,000 plays and 19,000 likes in six months (seen below, right).
@jay.vakil Please tell me people can relate to this #fyp #gujju #abcd #fob #indian #desi #bollywood #brownboy #surti ♬ Reading Rainbow Theme Song – Reading Rainbow
@gill.gurvir heard this since day 1 #punjabitiktok #desitok #browntiktok #americanbornconfuseddesi #punjabi #brown #desi #fyp #xyzbca #fypシ ♬ original sound – gurvir
@ashleysr19 what number did you get?? #fyp #desi #obsessedwithit #brown #indian #indiancheck #browngirlvibes #india ♬ brown girl tag
@wabisabi1891 #indianmatchmakingseason3 #abcd #desi ♬ original sound – wabisabi1891
@helloitslamya Reply to @jajahabajuah ♬ original sound – Lamya
@anujmerchant Trying the new #texttospeech feature. 😆 #tiktok #fyp #desi #desikids ♬ kids – Gleek
 India Today – Indian Children Brought Up
 YouTube – OfficialSheetalSeth
 Reddit – /r/ABCDesis
 TikTok – gill.gurvir
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