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

learn more… | top users | synonyms (8)

2
votes
1answer
81 views

Racist and offensive term for a black person during the Civil War

Is there a word like "colored" or "darkie" that would be offensive to a white southerner during the Civil War? I don't think the N word would work here. I'm working on a screenplay and want a southern ...
4
votes
3answers
4k views

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 ...
7
votes
4answers
303k 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 ...
2
votes
1answer
274 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 ...
3
votes
2answers
10k views

Origin and meaning of “damn straight”

The phrase "damn straight" is now used as a way to emphatically agree with a statement, but where does it come from, and what did it mean originally?
7
votes
3answers
245 views

Was the BrEng term “coloured” derogatory in the 1970s?

SAM Look... I owe it to myself to say this to you, okay? Leave Tony Crane. Just go far away from him. He's gonna ask you to marry him and he's gonna make you a business partner. EVE Is ...
4
votes
3answers
405 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 ...
18
votes
6answers
113k 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?
11
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 ...
5
votes
8answers
2k views

What's a word to describe topics that would be impolite to talk about?

What's a word for this? I thought of taboo (or from MW - taboo). But I'm not sure that this is the right word. Examples of this kind of topic include: money sex other people not present Is there a ...
5
votes
2answers
134 views

Is it offensive to say that somone “fell pregnant”?

That's my question in the headline. It implies that it was an accident, and/or that the pregnancy, so therefore the unborn child, is a burden, like an illness. Seems offensive, yet I hear it all the ...
5
votes
2answers
4k views

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 ...
1
vote
2answers
88 views

'Ass' (“fool”): vulgar?

My kid heard the word ass somewhere and asked what it meant. My wife said not to use it as it's not a nice word. (She meant that it's vulgar or obscene.) Later (when the kid wasn't around), I objected ...
10
votes
2answers
3k views

Where does the pejorative meaning of “shower” come from?

shower British informal a group of people perceived as incompetent or worthless I think this term is becoming obsolete. It's certainly not something I've heard in the street recently. The ...
1
vote
1answer
95 views
0
votes
1answer
5k 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 ...
17
votes
9answers
4k views

Is “layman” an offensive term?

Is it offensive to use the term layman nowadays? Does it insinuate that the people to whom you are referring are uneducated? I am wanting to say This is just one of the ways that CERN's research ...
3
votes
3answers
3k 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?
2
votes
2answers
225 views

“Homosexual” or “Gay and Lesbian”?

I have faced a problem with my writing which I could really do with some clarification on. My question applies to both British and American English (which is fairly standard on the internet). ...
19
votes
5answers
34k views

“Hooker”, “whore”, “prostitute”, when to use which?

"Hooker", "whore", and "prostitute" all mean whore; what are the differences between them?
2
votes
1answer
202 views

What is origin of the phrase “tits up”

I like this phrase a lot but wonder where it comes from.
26
votes
12answers
4k views

Just how offensive are the terms “retarded” and “gay”?

My college-age son and his friends use the terms "retarded" and "gay" pretty much interchangeably to mean substandard, bad, lame (in the sense of ineffectual or weak) or just plain wrong. I've ...
-1
votes
1answer
67 views

A chink in the English language [closed]

The idiom "chink in one's armor" refers to an area of vulnerability Wikipedia Unfortunately, while a 'chink' can be a weakness, in recent times it has become a derogatory statement. This makes ...
14
votes
4answers
1k views

What is the past tense form of s--t [closed]

Are shit, shat, and shitted all correct and fine to use as the past tense of shit? After a little bit of searching it seems that they are, with shat being Old English. Is any form more common in ...
5
votes
1answer
142 views

Martini, Extra Dirty

This expression is from the show "True Detective" (Session 1 Episode 6) A guy buys a woman a drink when they have just met, then she asks waiter to "martini, extra dirty". This is the first time I've ...
0
votes
1answer
71 views

Is “root access” acceptable in a professional setting in Australian English?

In Australian English, which has a slang meaning of "root" which is best avoided in a professional setting, is "root access" acceptable in a professional setting? If not, what synonyms, preferably ...
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 ...
-5
votes
1answer
147 views

Tolerance in English for names with vulgar everyday meaning? [closed]

Why does English (and perhaps other languages) allow collisions between names and nouns with vulgar/offensive meanings? I'm thinking of course of Dick vs. dick. Possible explanations (in no ...
9
votes
2answers
254k views

“Dammit” vs. “damnit” [closed]

What is the correct spelling, dammit or damnit? And what is the difference? Just writing this question brings up a red squiggly underneath damnit and the suggestions include dammit and damn it.
4
votes
3answers
480 views

What does “talk to the hand” mean?

I saw the phrase "talk to the hand" on many funny stickers which seems like expressing the idea that you want to stop the topic or conversation which you feel uncomfortable or not interested in. But ...
4
votes
4answers
265 views

American word for commode

I know several words for the toilet, i.e. bathroom. However I want to know the colloquial word for the seat on which one sits while defecating. I have read john somewhere but never heard an American ...
8
votes
3answers
5k 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?
8
votes
5answers
5k views

What does “If she smokes, she pokes” exactly mean?

What does part she pokes of phrase If she smokes, she pokes exactly mean?
8
votes
3answers
26k views

Is “I'm screwed” a rude expression?

Is "I'm screwed" a rude expression, or can it be used when someone tries to say they made a mistake? I overheard it from someone who seemed to have failed at his task.
5
votes
2answers
317 views

What's the origin of the phrase “men are pigs”?

I believe every man and woman has either read about or heard this phrase been spoken at least once in their lifetime. Besides the obvious connotation ascribing men to pigs, what is the reasoning ...
0
votes
1answer
96 views

Removing offensiveness from swear word [closed]

Is there a consensus in terms of the ranking of offensiveness given by the word "damn" and its derivatives? Damn Darn Dang Ding (as in ding-busted) I assume that the less a word sounds like the ...
0
votes
1answer
779 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 ...
7
votes
4answers
5k views

Why is the term “touched” no longer commonly used?

I’ve heard the term touched used to refer to someone who is “not quite right”. I’m curious as to where this term came from, what it really means, and why it doesn’t tend to be used often anymore. Is ...
1
vote
7answers
204 views

Adjective for someone who is an a-hole?

I'm trying to identify an effective adjective for someone who is unpleasant to others, mean spirited, and self-centered enough to qualify as a colloquial "a$$hole". I've looked at this question, ...
11
votes
7answers
12k 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 ...
2
votes
5answers
12k views

Synonym for “half-ass”

As in: Don't half-ass this project or I'll fire you. I don't want to half-ass this project or I'll be fired. I half-assed this project and was fired.
2
votes
1answer
192 views

Why do people pronounce “f***ing” like “f***en”? [duplicate]

I'm not a native English speaker so I might not be exactly accurate with this, but whenever people (e.g. in films) say fucking, it sounds something like fucken. There's no "g" at the end and instead ...
-1
votes
3answers
2k views

What is an alternative to “f— someone's brains out”? [closed]

In Persian, we use a sentence,مخ کسی را زدن [pron.:Mokh-e Kasi Ra Zadan], literally meaning "to hit someone's mind", to mean attracting someone and making them interested for dating, or stealing ...
7
votes
2answers
641 views

Etymology of “sh**hole” [closed]

What is the etymology of shithole? Did it originate from A) the orifice through which excrement is passed, or B) the hole in the ground intended for the disposal of such excrement? (This is a serious ...
14
votes
10answers
24k views

Is it offensive to call a redhead a “ginger”?

So I just re-watched this great comedy by Tim Minchin, and here are the questions: How bad/offensive is the g-word really (other than being an anagram of the n-word)? What are alternatives? Is ...
12
votes
3answers
2k views

Why the opposite meanings of the word “bollocks”?

The phrases the dog’s bollocks, the bee’s bollocks, and golden bollocks are used to mean something or someone excellent, fine, or well thought of. But if one were to say a load of bollocks, or ...
9
votes
5answers
8k 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 ...
41
votes
5answers
10k 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 ...
0
votes
1answer
81 views

Is “German measles” regarded as offensive?

Google NGrams indicates that "rubella" has been more commonly used than "German measles" since approximately the end of the WWII, and that it isn't because people have used "liberty measles" instead. ...
1
vote
4answers
142 views

Alternate phrase for “be damned” to avoid profanity

How could you rephrase something like this usage of "be damned" to avoid profanity, but without losing the emphasis conveyed by the idiom itself? I'm going to ask this question on StackExchange, ...