Questions related to words or phrases that may be considered offensive in English

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When and how do words become offensive?

Disclaimer: Not strictly English language question, but still a question on language use I've just had a discussion with a member, who argued that the word "lunatic" is offensive and therefore should ...
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3answers
1k views

How Offensive is ''Grow a Pair?'' [closed]

What does ''grow a pair'' mean exactly? Is it offensive? Does it bring a man to a level of a girl/woman? Is it more offensive when a woman says it? Thank you for the answers, especially from women. ...
0
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1answer
671 views

Is asking “come again?” to a complete stranger over the phone rude?

My Irish colleague told me that when talking to a customer over the phone asking:"come again?" is considered rude and even offensive since it is very informal and almost demanding. Now I did not ...
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5answers
829 views

Why aren't there any common words for 'defecating' and 'urinating'?

Besides 'poo(p)ing' and 'peeing/weeing' used by and to children, besides 'shitting/crapping' and 'pissing' which are spoken, not polite, says the Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English, besides ...
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1answer
143 views

Looking for a list of “english words” that exist in other languages, but with different meanings

I had a terrible misunderstanding with a semi-conservative Turkish woman who was offended when I said "Let's have brunch, and I'll bring some platonic female friends" I'm told that in Turkey, ...
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3answers
108 views

Is there an expression for only offending the recipient?

Suppose one makes a statement that is likely to be offensive to its recipient, but will not offend most third parties. Is there a word or expression for this type of statement? Example: I see someone ...
13
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3answers
953 views

When and why did the N-word and “negro” go apart?

Both the terms nigger and negro come from the Spanish and Portuguese Negro which denotes "black". But today they have widely different connotations, the former is considered a horrible racial slur, ...
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4answers
600 views

Is 'she-woman' an acceptable counterpart of 'he-man'?

If this is, as it is, a real English example, I wanted to know what role his women played in persuading him that he was this incredible he-man. can this I wanted to know what role her men ...
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4answers
716 views

How accepted is ‘f***ing’ in informal conversation?

I live in Brazil and speak English as a foreign language. For the past twenty years I've heard people use the adjective fucking more often than ever before in the US: in real life, in movies and on ...
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2answers
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Why are promiscuous women known as “slappers”?

Women who aren't interested in much more than sex are referred to as "slappers" in British English. British informal, derogatory a promiscuous or vulgar woman. Why is this? I can't find any ...
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1answer
3k views

How offensive is the expression “I am sick of you”?

Question 1: What is the meaning of "I am sick of you" exactly? Question 2: Does the meaning of this expression change depending on the context? Question 3: How offensive is this expression in ...
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2answers
812 views

Are there religious swear words in English the way there are in French-speaking Québec (like “Câlisse!”)?

Are there in English any cases of using religious words for swear words, most likely in predominantly Christian regions? I ask because in the Canadian province of Québec, which is primarily ...
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1answer
431 views

Where does English get the word “condom” from?

Although once a word that dared not speak its name, thanks to popular-culture references as well as the devastating AIDS tragedy, condom seems to be on everyone’s lips these days. But does anybody ...
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2answers
708 views

Where does the word “sh**” come from?

Once upon a time in America, particularly during the 1970s, if you asked an American whether they ‘fancied a shag’, they might well have thought of this: And therefore declined the offer for fear ...
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7answers
9k views

What does “ratchet” mean and when was it first used?

The word ratchet is all over Twitter. Some real examples from just now: "All these ghetto ass ratchet ass girls at mchi are wearing these Santa hats, and they all claim to be Santa..." "I was ...
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4answers
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Where does the word “jism” come from?

Another word of mysterious origins of jism, in the sense of spunk. The OED mentions it is sometimes spelled jizz, and may even be the precursor word to jazz. But neither the OED nor Etymonline ...
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1answer
4k views

Where does the word “minge” come from?

The slang term minge in the sense of quim dates from the beginning of the 20th century. However, neither the OED nor Etymonline has any idea where it came from. Here are two of the OED’s citations: ...
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1answer
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Where did the word “quim” come from?

Both the OED and Etymonline offer no clue as to origin of the slang term quim, meaning minge. The OED’s earliest citations are from the 18th, which isn’t quite as old as Adam, but has certainly been ...
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2answers
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Where does the word “wankers” come from?

The term wanker is derived from the verb wank in the sense of to masturbate. However, neither the OED nor Etymonline can trace it further back than that: both claim it is of “obscure origin”, which ...
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1answer
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Origin of “Screw the pooch”

Wiktionary says this of "screw the pooch": The term was first documented in the early "Mercury" days of the US space program. It came there from a Yale graduate named John Rawlings who helped ...
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3answers
269k views

What does “thot” mean and when was it first used?

The word thot is all over Twitter. The @lovihatibot Twitterbot routinely finds it in searches for "I love the word [X]" and "I hate the word [X]", in fact it's the most hated word and third most ...
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3answers
218 views

Is “vacuous” offensive? [closed]

I am not an native English speaker and I would like to know if the use of the word "vacuous" is offensive. I am writing a reply to a request where I am asked to do something that has no sense at all ...
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3answers
629 views

Synonym for “call bulls--t”

I am writing a column for publication in a widely circulated newspaper, and would like to use a phrase meaning something like "call bullshit". I can't think of one that captures the meaning so ...
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1answer
252 views

On English Phrases with Essential Changes in Meaning [closed]

In any living language the change in meanings of the words and phrases is a natural phenomenon. But sometimes this change is very essential and a certain word or phrase loses its original meaning ...
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1answer
381 views

Swear words and fricatives/plosives [duplicate]

I've noticed that pretty much all swear words or profane language contains one or more fricatives, and sometimes plosives. Without listing words, if you can think of the first ten swear words that ...
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2answers
317 views

What does the word “s***storm” mean exactly?

The definition of shitstorm in New Oxford American Dictionary: a situation marked by violent controversy. The definition in Wikipedia: a vulgar dysphemism for a chaotic and unpleasant ...
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2answers
333 views

Does the etymology of the phrase “Pardon my French” mean that it is an ethnic slur? [closed]

I've long thought that the phrase "Pardon my French" is an unintentional ethnic slur. This other question doesn't discuss whether it is or not. I'm looking for historical references that could provide ...
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3answers
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Why is 'hell' considered a curse word?

Given the Wikipedia's list of profanities, you will see that it's somehow detached from the rest of curse words. The most commonly recognized profanities usually describe a body part, person or an ...
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4answers
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Why does swearing 'turn the air blue'?

Why do we say that the air is blue when someone has been swearing a lot?
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1answer
405 views

A vague definition in a dictionary, “shag:a sexual partner of a specified ability”. Is there any better or plainer explanation?

I'm not a native English-reader, I'm Chinese. So mostly I get meanings of words by consulting dictionaries. I read this in a dictionary about the word shag: a sexual partner of a specified ...
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8answers
454 views

Using the word “coon” as part of a company name

I'd like you to ask if it's ok to use the word "coon" as part of a company name? The website isn't related to racoons at all, but has a racoon head in the logo. Will it offend visitors? As a foreigner ...
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8answers
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Polite alternative to the term “bitch” when referring to a female dog

I'm writing an example of constructing logic, and I need to differentiate between an adult female dog, an adult male dog and a puppy and am searching for polite terms. Unfortunately, the word "bitch" ...
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1answer
213 views

Is “specialness” a mock euphemistic noun form of “mentally retarded”?

In https://gist.github.com/brixen/6705046, there's I recommend monkey patching Symbol#name in MRI. You can even do this with refinements for extra specialness. (As background, refinements is a ...
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1answer
213 views

Does “Japanese tourist” have any meaning other than a tourist from Japan?

I was under the impression that "Japanese tourist" had a meaning more than just a tourist who happens to be from Japan. For example, TV Tropes has an entry on Japanese Tourist, and French fashion ...
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7answers
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How to refer to people of mixed race?

As is commonly known, one of the most delicate question is how to refer to people of mixed race, which can be a matter of condemnation. Some words may have fueled the problem and I never would have ...
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3answers
244 views

What does “in s****” mean in the following context?

I was reading a short story when I stumbled across the following sentence. "[H]e overheard his dad say it wasn’t worth its price in shit." I was a bit surprised with the negation. I'm used to ...
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5answers
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What is the origin of “Indian Summer” and is it offensive?

I am discussing San Francisco's "Indian Summer" and happen to be surrounded by people from India (the country). As I was speaking I got terribly uncomfortable thinking I was offending someone, (there ...
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4answers
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Does “This blows!” (it's bad) derive from “This sucks!”?

The origin of blow = suck, be bad/unpleasant recently came up in comments to this ELL question. I'd always assumed it was a standard slang "meaning reversal" from suck. But a few minutes on Google ...
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“Screwed” vs. “nailed”: why is the slang so different?

While the two names nail and screw have similar shapes and functions, why do the verbs differ so much? Someone has screwed something sounds like they have ruined something to me, while someone has ...
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4answers
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How was sexual intercourse referred to before 'sex'?

It seems that the word "sex" in the context of sexual intercourse is a fairly recent development. How would sexual intercourse have been referred to before the 1920's? Coitus? Is there a more casual ...
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3answers
2k views

invalid vs handicap vs disabled [closed]

When is it appropriate to describe a person as an invalid versus handicap versus disabled? My friend broke his leg and could hardly do anything physical. I guess invalid would be the most appropriate ...
0
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1answer
136 views

Is there a word for this behaviour?

Well I use a lot of.. I'm vulgar.. very very perverse (just the language!) at that.. But I value the feelings inclusive of that I honour my enemies (I don't suck up but I value them) whose feelings I ...
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3answers
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Should the phrase “Man up” be considered offensive?

Liverpool Football Club have recently released a list of banned phrases, that they want the fans to avoid using. (Read the story) One of these phrases is "Man up". Why is this phrase considered ...
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7answers
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Why are you a plonker?

The idiom, plonk (something/someone) down means to slap something down; to plop something down to sit or lie down on something in a careless or noisy way to leave someone somewhere to do ...
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4answers
2k views

Is calling a homosexual person “gay” offensive?

My native language is German but I’ve been watching a lot of TV in English. During a conversation about the English language, a question about the term gay came up. Is calling a homosexual person gay ...
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2answers
171 views

If we use “fairy” in our band name, will people think of sprites or gay men?

Seems like a really weird question but here's what it's about: Me and my band are currently searching for a bandname which seems to be very hard. We recently (finally) found one name that we all ...
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3answers
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that's some good sh*t

I found a web site called http://shitformakingwebsites.com/ to find excellent-quality materials for work. I started wondering why "sh*t" can be used so positively here. I have a similar question ...
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1answer
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Is it offensive to refer to someone as a bird? [closed]

Is it offensive to refer to someone as a bird? Is it similar to calling someone a chick in the US? What's the difference?
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6answers
6k views

What is a polite substitute for badass (used as a noun)? [closed]

Badass and BAMF are both modern words with approximately the same meaning: "Someone who is awesome to an extreme level, thereby leveraging unquestionable authority." Is there another noun or title ...
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2answers
814 views

Origin of phrase “no shit” [closed]

So today I was having a conversation with one of my friends and he used the term "no shit" to mean that I was stating the obvious. Now I am interested to know the origin of such a phrase. Is it ...