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

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7
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3answers
15k views

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 ...
8
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6answers
4k views

Why does swearing 'turn the air blue'?

Why do we say that the air is blue when someone has been swearing a lot?
3
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1answer
550 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 ...
4
votes
8answers
596 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 ...
50
votes
8answers
12k views

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" ...
1
vote
1answer
253 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 ...
2
votes
1answer
325 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 ...
8
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7answers
4k views

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 ...
1
vote
3answers
263 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 ...
9
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5answers
9k views

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 ...
5
votes
4answers
6k views

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 ...
42
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5answers
13k views

“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 ...
20
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4answers
1k views

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 ...
0
votes
3answers
3k 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
votes
1answer
138 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 ...
10
votes
3answers
2k views

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 ...
16
votes
7answers
3k views

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 ...
7
votes
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 ...
0
votes
2answers
189 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 ...
5
votes
3answers
195 views

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 ...
0
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1answer
2k views

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?
1
vote
6answers
14k 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 ...
3
votes
0answers
2k views

What is the precise meaning of “f***” in the context of the hip hop mantra, “F*** bitches, get money”? [closed]

I've been hearing the line "Fuck bitches / Get money" in hip hop songs recently. I mostly noticed it lately in a couple of notable songs by Lil Wayne and other Young Money affiliated artists, but ...
4
votes
2answers
1k 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 ...
6
votes
5answers
20k views

Where does the term Cracker come from, and how disparaging is it?

My grandmother from Georgia openly refers to herself and other white southerners as "Crackers", and sometimes adds a state as in "Georgia Cracker" or "Florida Cracker". She says it means simple folks ...
1
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2answers
437 views

Meaning and usage of the swear word pronounced /ˈkʰʌnt/? [closed]

I’ve been hearing the word cunt used several times now. What kind of situations do you usually use this word, and what sort of person does this swear word usually describe?
2
votes
2answers
898 views

Question about likely vulgar expressions

The terms "screw up" and "crap" are frequently used on American TV that I'm not sure whether they're euphemisms, my first assumption, or just vulgar. I don't want to make mistakes, especially when ...
5
votes
2answers
798 views

What's a useful replacement idiom for “money shot?”

I'm afraid I have been somewhat innocently causing offense by using the term "money shot" in its general, non-pornographic sense. My coworkers either have dirty minds or lack awareness of the other ...
3
votes
3answers
842 views

How offensive is a word f**k in English? [duplicate]

I hear it quite often in movies, radio , books, songs even in some interviews with actors .In my native language is a word like that very strong and awfully offensive but I think it is not that strong ...
6
votes
2answers
9k views

Why are the “donkey” and the “butt” both named “ass”? [closed]

Is there any similarity between them that they have the same name, or is the reason something different of having a physical similarity? I found different meanings for both, but none of them ...
0
votes
1answer
543 views

How should I use the phrasal verb “to d**k around”?

To waste time Stop dicking me around and get to the point. Would you please stop dicking around with her? To take advantage of You're dicking him around, you know? Don't ...
1
vote
1answer
342 views

Polish your mug idiom

Recently I've heard couple of interesting idioms one of which was "Make yourself scarce or I'll polish your mug". So, I was wondering is it really used like that? I've heard of "Make yourself scarce" ...
14
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3answers
5k views

Is “Dutch wife” one of those “Dutch words”?

The term "Dutch wife" is listed as having several somewhat related meanings. Wiktionary describes it as meaning 1) a body-length pillow, 2) a wicker or bamboo tube that someone sleeps in (also called ...
-3
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1answer
635 views

Do nonsense and bull**** have corresponding plural forms?

For example, I've heard nonsenses, but I've never heard bullshits. Why one is plural and the other is singular? They mean the same thing.
2
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2answers
350 views

How bad is the use of “n***er” today?

If I call a black people of "nigger", how bad is this today? If a black call another black with this word, it is wrong?
6
votes
2answers
3k views

Is it derogatory or offensive to call a detective a dick?

The word dick is generally considered offensive and is marked so in dictionaries. But there is also a meaning of detective that it carries. I usually find no derog indication for this meaning. Is it ...
6
votes
5answers
9k views

Is there a clean version of “no sh*t, Sherlock”?

The phrase "no shit, Sherlock" or just "no shit" is a reply used when someone else points out something obvious. I was thinking about it the other day and I realized I don't know if there is a clean ...
4
votes
3answers
4k views

Is schmuck really an obscene word?

Schmuck is supposedly an obscene Yiddish term for the male sex organ, yet it appears all of the time in the media as an American idiom for a jerk. Can one use it in polite company?
5
votes
4answers
686 views

Is “ass-wise” an acceptable English word? Is it a noun, or adverb?

I was surprised to see the New Yorker’s (February 26) article titled, “Boehner defends decision to remain on ass,” which was chockablock with the word, “Ass.” “Minutes after telling the United ...
9
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3answers
7k views

Etymology of “half-assed” [closed]

The term "half-assed" is used to refer to something being sloppy or partially completed. For example, "You really did a half-assed job on those TPS reports, Bob." What is the etymology of this phrase? ...
13
votes
2answers
1k views

What is the origin / reason for adding asterisks within swear words like f**k?

Several variants of this topic have already been covered here, such as: What name for bowdlerisation with asterisks (e.g., “f*ck”)? What the #$@&%*! is that called? However, these deal with the ...
2
votes
3answers
392 views

Is “I'm not racist, but …” more common in Australian English than other dialects? [closed]

Is the phrase "I'm not racist, but ..." more common in Australian English than other dialects? The phrase is used as a prefix to something that's likely to be interpreted as racist, probably because ...
9
votes
3answers
514 views

Meaning of abbreviated vulgarity

Preface: Despite the fact that this question includes vulgar language, it is not intended to be offensive, unprofessional, or humorous, but rather is a serious question. In the statement, "F**king ...
5
votes
3answers
234 views

Is it safe to use “old” to mean “previous” for a person?

Is it safe to use "old" to mean "previous" or "former" for something like "my old teacher"? Or is it a bit risky, because "old" also has a meaning with respect to age (i.e., chronologically gifted)? ...
3
votes
2answers
3k views

Shut your mouth

I’m confused regarding these expressions: Shut up Shut your mouth Shut your mouth up Shut up your mouth After some research, I’ve come to believe they are all correct except “Shut ...
12
votes
6answers
1k views

Vulgar way of saying “he killed himself”

I'm trying to translate my acquaintance's cartoon to cite it in an article written in English. For the subject of the article it is important that the translation will be direct, thus very vulgar ...
4
votes
3answers
441 views

Isn't “dummy” in “HTML Parser for Dummies” considered offensive?

What does "dummy" mean here (in the section Getting Started)? Getting Started For novice users, an introductory guide on how to set up your environment to use the HTML Parser is provided in ...
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3answers
2k views

What drives the usage of 'God', 'Jesus', and 'Jesus Christ' as expletives? [closed]

I grew up in a conservative Christian home, and was taught that we do not 'take God's name in vain'. Interestingly, among some churches I grew up in, the consensus was that the common usage of God or ...
12
votes
1answer
564 views

Is “tidbits” Bowdlerized or original?

Our American English local paper insisted on changing a title from titbits to tidbits for a column on minor local events and stories. I, a British English speaker, have always pronounced and spelled ...
0
votes
2answers
257 views

Can “fornicate” be used as a transitive verb? [closed]

(I’m asking this for someone else who doesn’t know about this site (yet).) Could fornicate be used as a transitive verb, as in We have to keep A from fornicating B. I don’t believe it can.