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

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2answers
1k views

Use of “brother” in non-family and non-religious contexts

I think the word brother (sometimes spelled brotha or bro) has been used for a long time among African Americans when talking to one another with the meaning of "pal" and not in a family context. ...
3
votes
2answers
2k views

How long have people been swearing in English?

I was looking through my old A-Level English set books from 1989 at the weekend. We had to study the Canterbury Tales and I can still remember our delight when we discovered that 'queynte' was the ...
11
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4answers
32k views

Difference between “smart” and “clever”

What is the difference between smart and clever? As far as I understand the latter is offensive. But the Cambrige Dictionary gives similar definitions of smart and clever.
4
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1answer
2k views

How to mock the French? [closed]

I have recently started playing a board game (A Few Acres of Snow) that pits the British against the French in 18th century New England. I know how to mock others in general, but in order that ...
35
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6answers
4k views

How did “Jew” become pejorative?

For some reason, the word Jew often carries a pejorative or offensive connotation, which the related adjective Jewish does not carry. This is most obvious when either word is used as an attributive: ...
10
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6answers
2k views

Synonym of “s--t eating grin” suitable for polite company

Can anyone think of a synonym for "shit eating grin" that would be usable in polite company? This definition from the OED captures the meaning I'm looking for perfectly: A broad grin expressing ...
5
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1answer
3k views

What is the etymology of the word “dinlo”?

dinlo n. stupid person; idiot Suggested etymology from urban dictionary a Romany (gypsy language) word that has been adopted widely by the east coast. Sorry if this language offends but I ...
6
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1answer
231 views

Origin of “c**p”

I've heard some far-fetched stories of the origin of the word crap. What is its real origin?
9
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6answers
43k views

Madam vs. Ma'am

I suspect that the answer to this depends on region, so insights from multiple areas would be beneficial: It has been my impression that in the US addressing a woman as "Madam" is considered ...
10
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4answers
64k views

Where did the phrase “batsh*t crazy” come from?

I am curious how this term came to be. I've found this question on various forums, but none of them seem to agree where the term came from. The most popular explanation seems to come from "bat in the ...
2
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1answer
197 views

Is there a pejorative word for an ethnic appeal?

When ultra-conservative Jesse Helms ran against Congressman Nick Galifianakis in 1972, he is considered to have gained ground with the slogan, "Jesse Helms: He's One of Us," presumably referring to ...
2
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3answers
864 views

What is the origin of “cr*p on a crutch”?

Where did the saying "Crap on a crutch" originate? My mother used to use it a lot and I find myself using it also.
0
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1answer
284 views

Etymology of sh*tfaced?

Where does the term shitfaced come from? I'm aware that it means to be totally drunk, but I'm not sure how shitfaced describes being drunk.
9
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2answers
43k views

Correct usage of replacing cuss words with symbols

I've noticed that symbols (i.e. #, $, %, !, *, etc.) are commonly used to filter profanity/foul language. Just out of curiosity, is there a specific way to do this. I've noticed sometimes there ...
3
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3answers
366 views

Is “senility” pejorative?

Could you please give your opinion on whether or not "senility" is a pejorative term? My sentence is: Although there wasn't any real upper age limit, elders who seemed to be affected by senility ...
5
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3answers
1k views

Is the phrase “all to c**k” considered profane?

I occasionally use the colloquialism "all to cock" to mean "disastrously wrong". I've always thought it a benign phrase, but recently I've wondered whether the use of the word "cock" in this situation ...
14
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6answers
18k views

Non-offensive substitute for a swear word

What term describes a non-offensive substitute for a swear word? For example, Battlestar Galactica used frack instead of fuck. Another example is the use of snap instead of shit. I think I may have ...
4
votes
3answers
1k views

Is “gaijin” considered offensive?

Is gaijin a term that's only acceptable when it's a non-Japanese person using it self-referentially (similar to n-word privileges in TV Tropes), or is it considered ok to use in normal conversation ...
3
votes
3answers
713 views

What does “[expletive] it up” mean?

When I was in San Diego, I asked to a girl "how can I get to the freeway?" She answered me, "Go straight on, you can't fuck it up." What does it mean? Is this a usable phrase or it is too vulgar? Is ...
16
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4answers
18k views

What's the difference between “informal”, “colloquial”, “slang”, and “vulgar”?

It seems many people get confused about the differences (and similarities) between "colloquial" and "slang", so what exactly does each term apply to? But to be even more thorough it seems to me we ...
7
votes
4answers
351 views

General term for muggle-type terms?

Is there a general term to refer to "a semi-denigrating term used by a minority social group (not necessarily a racial group) to refer to the majority". Examples would be "muggle", "gentile", ...
5
votes
4answers
1k views

Were “devil” and “damned” really offensive words in Victorian times?

I've been reading Trollope's The Way We Live Now, and have noticed a little stylistic quirk; that the words devil and damned appear blanked out, as d----- and d------. They appear in sentences like... ...
16
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6answers
81k views

Meaning and usage of “bite me”

I often come across the phrase bite me in many TV shows. What does it mean and is there a specific context in which this phrase can be used?
0
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5answers
585 views

“Sl*t” term for males

"Slut" can have two meanings: an immoral woman, or prostitute a dirty and slovenly woman I would like a term for men that is the equivalent of the second meaning. Is there a term for describing a ...
7
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5answers
818 views

Is the adjective “vain” considered offensive when applied to a person?

I am given to understand by the Chambers Dictionary and Webster's that vain can be understood as thoughtless, empty-headed, useless, which all sound rather strong to me. Is it likely that a native ...
10
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5answers
42k views

What is the origin and history of the word “motherf---er”?

I'm not a native English speaker, but I would like to know how and why people started using mother fucker. Today it seems it has lost its meaning because people use it all the time, but was there a ...
8
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5answers
3k views

That which is vulgar, obscene, or profane (title reflects contents)

When I look up the word "fuck" in the dictionary, I see that it is listed as a vulgar term. However, if I use it in church, I might be scolded for speaking profanity in the Lord's house. If I use it ...
7
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5answers
853 views

How rude is “naff”?

"Naff" is a word I infrequently use as a mild version of "shit". If something is a little bit bad or dull, it is "naff". I have just come across (via The Slate Gabfest podcast) one of the alleged ...
2
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5answers
8k views

Synonym for “half-ass”

As in: I don't want to half-ass this project or I'll be fired. Don't half-ass this project or I'll fire you. I half-assed this project and was fired.
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7answers
25k views

Is it true that “tuppence” refers to a woman's vagina in British English slang? If so, why?

I was looking up a definition online, as I often do, in this case the British slang word tuppence; I got the standard "a slang reference to a coin denomination" definition from Wikipedia, but stumbled ...
40
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4answers
3k views

Who is Jesus H. Christ?

When used as an expletive, the name Jesus Christ often gets an H inserted into the middle of it for some reason. I've heard lots of guesses about what the H stands for, the most popular one being ...
9
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4answers
926 views

Does using the word “crony” necessitate a negative connotation?

I have always heard the word "crony" in the context of acquaintanceships between people exploiting their closeness for less than noble means. Despite its definitions in the usual places as simply ...
12
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4answers
926 views

How to ask a knowledge question without causing offence?

By "knowledge question", I mean any sort of question intended to check whether the listener already knows the answer or not. For example: Are you familiar with how an operating system works? Do you ...
6
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2answers
8k views

What is the origin of the word “wog”?

Some friend of mine told me it was an acronym for "western oriental gentleman" and was a form of sarcastic politeness. Is this true, and is it offensive to use this word?
9
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9answers
2k views

What is a good word for a person who doesn't masturbate?

Is there a word for a person who doesn't masturbate? If so, what would he/she/it be known as?
8
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3answers
3k views

What does “it’s not going to suck itself ” mean?

In Goa, I see tourists wearing t-shirts that have the following text on them, along with a red arrow: It’s not going to suck itself What does this mean?
12
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5answers
44k views

What is the etymology of “cornhole”?

Since being introduced to the bean bag-toss game of the same name, I've wondered about this word. The old farm game, similar to horseshoes, has recently gained such popularity that Googling cornhole ...
13
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7answers
2k views

Is “Canuck” offensive?

I was criticized the other day for using this word. It never occurred to me that it was offensive, but Wikipedia says it "may" be derogatory. Given Vancouver's hockey team, I tend to think it's ...
15
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4answers
2k views

Is there anything wrong with the word “denigrate”?

A few years ago there was a controversy over the word niggardly — a perfectly innocent word that unfortunately sounds like a racial slur. Given that controversy, is it safe to use denigrate, which ...
4
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1answer
5k views

What is the meaning of “I'm a wiener”?

I have scoured out dictionaries searching for the word wiener without success. As you can notice I am not a native speaker. I usually see the this phrase as a demeaning joke on animations when some ...
3
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3answers
416 views

Someone told me “fair” is the “F” word, they don't like it in their house. Should I avoid using it?

I used "It's not fair", but someone told me "fair" is the "F" word, and they don't like it in their house. Should I avoid using it? ps: sorry if my question offended someone, I didn't mean to it.
3
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8answers
927 views

What's the more appropriate substitution for “give a f**k/d**n/s**t”

I want a more appropriate phrase that has the same form ("give a **") and meaning as the offensive "give a f**k/d**n/s**t". Is there any?
2
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3answers
2k views

Is it better to be “hung like a pike” or “hung like a stickleback”?

More from the British movie The Football Factory. The background is that the main character and his best friend have picked up these two girls at a bar; things proceed swimmingly, and the two head ...
7
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5answers
13k views

How serious an insult is “wanker” in British English? [NSFW]

In the spirit of this question, "How profane is it to call someone a 'slag' in British English", how insulting is "wanker" in British English on the spectrum of profanities and vulgarities? What's ...
5
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4answers
50k views

What exactly does “fap” mean? [NSFW]

Sorry for the ridiculous question, but I can't understand the difference between fap and masturbation. Does fap mean the whole progress?
7
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3answers
72k views

How offensive is it to call someone a “slag” in British English? (NSFW)

One more colorful slang term I gleaned from the British movie I recently watched is slag. In the movie, it was used in curses like, "Fuck-ing dogs! Slags." "Right slag, that one." Now I know via ...
20
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7answers
16k views

How derogatory is “chicks” when used to refer to women?

A comment in “What is a feminine version of guys?” got me wondering: how derogatory is the use of chicks to refer to women (either in general, or to a specific group). To me (I'm a man), it was quite ...
8
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6answers
3k views

Why did the descriptive “Orientals” shift into a pejorative?

It seems as if a shift occurred and the descriptive "Oriental" was replaced by "Asian" as the accepted term in polite society — what caused this shift?
13
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9answers
3k views

What is the pejorative for people who only practice their faith while at the place of worship?

What is the phrase or word for person that are very faithful in their place of worship (the pejorative usually applies to persons who are showy to the point of hypocrisy), but that are anything but ...
3
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3answers
933 views

In the movie “Meet the Fockers” does the word “Focker” really sound different?

In the movie "Meet the Fockers" does the word "Focker" sound really different from the four-letter word? I don't hear any difference. Do all the actors pronounce this word really differently from ...