Green’s Dictionary of Slang

rag-head n.

[the cloth that each wears as a head-covering]

1. (US) a gypsy.

[US]J. Mitchell McSorley’s Wonderful Saloon (2001) 177: The Boyaschutza call the nomad women rag-heads.

2. (US) a Hindu labourer; also attrib.

H.M. Rideout Key of the Fields 261: Your raghead friend Ghanda Singh [Ibid.] 340: Call yourself an Amurrican, and go pickin’ up raghead niggers and Chinks and Britishers?
[US]P. & T. Casey Gay-cat 70: They were brown men [... ] with heads wrapped in red, black, yellow and white turbans! [...] ‘It’s the Ragheads, all right — a whole army of Hindoo laborers.’.
[Aus]Central Qld Herald (Rockhampton, Qld) 9 Apr. 50/2: Not long past, Chowder Lal had been a ‘raghead’ up the Scaramento [ibid.] 50/4: The Swami and his two helpers — nee ‘ragheads’ — pulled aside a curtain.
[US]J. Steinbeck Wayward Bus 107: Edgar was still trying to make out where the Hindus wanted to go. ‘The god-damned rag heads,’ he said to himself.

3. (Aus./US) an Arab native of the Middle East.

[US]Irwin Amer. Tramp and Und. Sl. 154: Rag Head.–An Oriental, one who wears a turban.
[Aus]Advertiser (Adelaide) 28 Jan. 2/5: I was talking to the head of one of the oldest Arab families in Morocco [...] One of the top constructioners [...] walked by. ‘Hi, Ruark,’ he said, ‘who’s the rag-head’.
[US]Ragen & Finston World’s Toughest Prison 814: rag head – An Oriental, one who wears a turban.
[US]W. Kotzwinkle Midnight Examiner (1990) 41: Bunch of ragheads. They don’t drive a civilized cab.
[US]R. Marcinko Rogue Warrior (1993) 327: Then they’ll be ready for those ragheads in the Med.
[UK]L. Theroux Call of the Weird (2006) 168: If it was the ragheads, they knew exactly what they were after.
[US]Simon & Burns ‘Bomb in the Garden’ Generation Kill ep. 7 [TV script] Fuckin’ Iraqi cigarettes. Next I’ll be eating raghead pussy.
[US]Wash. Post 15 OCt. [Internet] Stein, at various times, yelled at Somali women dressed in traditional garb, calling them ‘f—– raghead b——,’ the complaint says.

4. (UK/US) a Sikh; also attrib.

[US]C. Hiaasen Tourist Season (1987) 183: A raghead Indian or a Tonto Indian?
[UK]R. Puxley Fresh Rabbit 86: In ordinary slang a Sikh is known as a ‘raghead’.

5. (US black) with ref. to the bandanna or do-rag n. worn by old ladies and latterly gang members.

(a) one who wears a scarf or bandanna tied round the head; also attrib.

[US]C. Cooper Jr ‘Yet Princes Follow’ in Black! (1996) 190: The young ‘ragheads,’ as he called them by dint of their habit of tying kerchiefs about their marcels to keep down sweat and protect the sheens.
[US]J. Wambaugh Glitter Dome (1982) 67: The brother was one of those dumb old raghead niggers.

(b) anyone who is not absolutely up to date with current information, gossip, style etc.

[US]R. Klein Jailhouse Jargon and Street Sl. [unpub. ms.].