The word is formed by taking the last four letters of Filipino and adding the diminutive suffix -y in the Tagalog language (the suffix is commonly used in Filipino nicknames: e.g. Although Pinoy and Pinay are regarded as derogatory by some younger Filipino-Americans, the terms have been widely used and have recently gained mainstream usage particularly among members of the Filipino masses and the Filipino-American sector. Pinoy was used for self-identification by the first wave of Filipinos going to the continental United States before World War II and has been used both in a pejorative sense and as a term of endearment, similar to Chicano.
As of 2016, the term has been extensively used by the government of the Philippines itself with apparently no derogatory connotations.
According to Filipino American historian Dawn Mabalon, the earliest appearance of the terms "Pinoy" and "Pinay" was in a 1926 issue of the Filipino Student Bulletin.
The article that featured the terms is titled "Filipino Women in U. Excel in Their Courses: Invade Business, Politics." The desire to self-identify can likely be attributed to the diverse and independent history of the archipelagic country - comprising 7,107 islands in the western Pacific Ocean - which trace back 30,000 years before becoming a Spanish colony in the 16th century and later occupied by the United States, which led to the outbreak of the Philippine–American War (1899–1902).
The Philippines have over 170 languages indigenous to the area, most of which belong to the Malayo-Polynesian branch of the Austronesian language family. Quezon renamed the Tagalog language as the Wikang Pambansa ("national language").
The language was further renamed in 1959 as Filipino by Secretary of Education Jose Romero.
The 1973 constitution declared the Filipino language to be co-official, along with English, and mandated the development of a national language to be known as Filipino.
Since then, the two official languages are Filipino and English.
The earliest known usages of Pinoy/Pinay in magazines and newspapers date to the 1920s include taking on social issues facing Pinoy, casual mentions of Pinoys at events, while some are advertisements from Hawaii from Filipinos themselves.
The following are the more notable earliest usages: In the United States, the earliest published usage known is a Philippine Republic article written in January 1924 by Dr. Juliano, a member of the faculty of the Schurz school in Chicago - "Why does a Pinoy take it as an insult to be taken for a Shintoist or a Confucian?