For questions about words and phrases chosen in an attempt to avoid violating certain cultural or social taboos and offending certain audiences.

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3
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4answers
4k views

Politically correct synonym for “Indian giver”?

The phrase "Indian giver" means someone who gives a person a gift and then wants it back later. It's occasionally a useful concept, but the dictionary says it's offensive and I also think so. Is there ...
5
votes
1answer
57 views

Is 'folk' a politically correct substitute for 'people'?

Edit: Comments so far have focused on the speech of politicians. While this discussion is interesting, and desired when relevant, I am more concerned with use in activist communities. I believe the ...
3
votes
2answers
132 views

Why have I not heard “radical muslim terrorism” on TV?

In the United States, on TV I have heard much about "radical islamic terrorism" during the republican debates and also in mainstream media. Nearly all these cases involve a male aggressor, or a ...
6
votes
8answers
1k views

Alternatives to the expression “poor man's <noun>”

I'm looking for a more politically correct substitute for the expression "poor man's", meaning an inferior improvised or makeshift substitute. Usage examples: "Guncotton is the poor man's TNT" "Poor ...
13
votes
22answers
7k views

What is a word to describe a statement that seems meaningless

Is there a phrase or word in the English language that describes a statement or a discourse that seems meaningless or so broad it lacks value? For example Society grows best when those who plant ...
0
votes
1answer
44 views

How is the term “African-American” politically correct?

First, a note: This question is meant to have no explicit or implicit political/sociological connotation whatsoever, and is indeed born of actual and deep curiosity as to what is in the author's ...
1
vote
1answer
102 views

Is “maiden speech” regarded as politically incorrect?

Some people use "inaugural speech" instead of maiden speech. For example, from the Twitter account of the Australian Sex Party: From one year ago, the Inaugural Speech of @FionaPattenMLC http://...
72
votes
10answers
11k views

Is “denigrate” a racist word? [duplicate]

A few years ago I was told not to use that word because, in addition to its negative meaning, it comes from Latin denigratus, past participle of denigrare, which means to blacken. Therefore, "to ...
12
votes
6answers
4k views

Is “fair-skinned” politically correct?

I have recently seen "fair-skinned" written to mean the opposite of "dark skin". In other contexts, "fair" usually sounds to me as judgemental, implying it is better. Example: fair weather Is "fair-...
3
votes
8answers
11k views

What is a gender-neutral alternative to the expression “man-days”?

What is a gender-neutral alternative to the expression "man-days"? I thought of "work-days" but am wondering if there might be another term. The use would be, for instance, "This project requires ...
3
votes
6answers
129 views

Politically correct way of saying “perceived by others as better”

I work for a startup and am trying to write a sentence in a professional email along the lines of: We can compete with other/better-known companies like Google and Amazon by appealing to the ...
1
vote
4answers
1k views

Politically correct substitutes for (fe)male and (wo)man

In the English language, the pairs man/woman and male/female both look as if one gender or sex was considered a special case for it is denoted by putting an arbitrary prefix (wo-, fe-) before the ...
19
votes
9answers
7k views

Man-hour vs. person-hour? Is the former now considered politically incorrect?

It's now (often) considered politically incorrect to say 'chairman'. We must now say 'chairperson' or simply 'chair'. Does the same apply to 'man-hour'? Should I instead say 'person-hour'? (On say a ...
8
votes
10answers
5k views

What is a less offensive term for “Christian mythology” that still implies it's non-empirical?

I'm trying to find an alternative term for "Christian mythology" that characterizes it as non-empirical, but isn't quite so caustic towards those sympathetic to Christian beliefs. I've considered "...
2
votes
1answer
74 views

Is “piss poor” apt in this case?

My friend and I (yes, it's the same friend) were chatting the other day about how some people are too poor to afford even drinking water, so much so that they don't urinate every day. The root of the ...
0
votes
1answer
75 views

Clarify an idiom in a political text

Please carefully read the text below: On 24 November, 1993, a meeting of Leftist intellectuals occurred in London under the auspices of the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), which ...
23
votes
11answers
3k views

Is it okay to use the word “Negro” in a historical context? [closed]

In a few days, I have to do a class presentation project about the 1920s Harlem Renaissance. I want to say that the movement's original name was the "New Negro Movement," but I'm not sure if that's ...
1
vote
2answers
312 views

What's an alternative term to “politically correct”/“political correctness” that liberals can use? [closed]

This may be a fairly controversial question, but ... I have known several people on the left (liberals, even radicals) who use the term "politically correct." I also know a lot of people on the ...
3
votes
2answers
151 views

Does the word “midget” have any negative connotations? What would be a non-offensive term today?

Midget is a word that is usually not said because it is offensive to the "Little People". In no way am I trying to offend anyone. But my question is, is it official that the word midget has negative ...
2
votes
3answers
115 views

Has the phrase “holiday season” been around for a long while?

In American English, has the phrase "holiday season", to refer to the Christmas season, been around for a long while? I assumed it was a recent politically correct invention to avoid mentioning the ...
14
votes
8answers
45k views

If a person holds prejudice against people because of their nationality, would that be considered racist?

Would it be considered racist if a store owner believes all Canadians are thieves and does not let any Canadians into his store? Racism pertains to discriminating based on race, and (correct me if I'm ...
46
votes
13answers
11k views

Does the term “white lie” have racist connotations?

In his book Overcoming our Racism, psychology professor Derald Wing Sue talks about "unconscious racial oppression" that leads well-meaning White people to say and do things that are harmful to people ...
0
votes
1answer
101 views

Transgendered vs. Transgender

In the 1990s the preferred umbrella term used by and about people who weren't in alignment with their birth gender was "transgendered." Despite the fact this was grammatically correct and didn't have ...
12
votes
4answers
19k views

Is “jipped” a politically incorrect word?

I recently read a line of chat conversation, where somebody said: … get jipped by some guy … A different user construed this as "casual racism", even though the whole conversation ...
1
vote
3answers
125 views

Including gender diversity in a survey [closed]

I'm about to run a very large survey of Canadians, and I'm wondering how I should identify gender. Currently, I'm asking: Are you ...? () Male () Female What word would you use to capture people ...
3
votes
2answers
247 views

Concise term for Native Americans of California

I'm trying to figure out what the concise, non-offensive term is for Native Americans from the area that became California (like Ohlone or Chumash people). California Natives doesn't work, since it ...
2
votes
6answers
2k views

Is there a politically correct term for illiterate people?

The question says it all. What is the standard, compassionate/politically-correct term for those who lack a literacy education? I'm looking for something a little higher in register and more accurate ...
0
votes
3answers
450 views

Mentally challenged as differently abled [closed]

Can we politely refer to somebody who is mentally challenged but leading an almost normal life upon professional support as differently abled?
7
votes
9answers
5k views

Is saying 'who cares' rude or maybe even disrespectful?

Two people are talking about what tasks should be finished on time, and what tasks should be put off until later. The conversation was like below: A: I don't think those tasks are important. We ...
3
votes
3answers
220 views

In cricket and football is it alright to refer to women as men?

I noticed when I was watching the match between England and Mexico in the Women's Football World Cup the other night, that the commentator would refer to a situation where the attacking side 'had a ...
7
votes
2answers
25k views

Are white and black ever capitalized when referring to people

What is the accepted custom regarding capitalization when it comes to "White" and "Black" when referring to race, whether they are being used as nouns or adjectives?
19
votes
2answers
1k views

When did we stop translating proper names?

It used to be that one would just translate a proper name that was in another language into English when referring to that entity. For example, William the Conqueror, Christopher Columbus, King ...
2
votes
1answer
525 views

What is the history of “partner” being used to refer to boyfriend–girlfriend relationships?

In North America (especially Canada and the United States), the word partner is more and more commonly used to describe someone who would otherwise traditionally have been called a boyfriend or a ...
1
vote
1answer
401 views

Necromancy and nigromancy

Necromancy and nigromancy descibe the act of black magic/ spiritualism. It comes from Greek originally and laterly Latin, according to Wikipedia. The question is, is this the ancient source of the ...
13
votes
5answers
9k views

Is using “he” for a gender-neutral third-person correct?

I know there are different opinions on this issue. My question: Is using "he" for a general, gender-neutral third person still in common use for formal writing? By common use I mean, can I expect my ...
-4
votes
2answers
2k views

Since the Latin for 'manus' is 'hand' - does that make 'mankind' a non-sexist expression? [closed]

I heard the following view expressed today: Mankind is not a sexist expression, because it comes from the latin manus, which means hand, as in [genderless] means of action. Is this a false ...
-3
votes
1answer
344 views

Is there a non-transphobic alternative to “he or she”? [duplicate]

For instance, "A politician must be able to think quickly on the spot. He or she must also have no qualms about lying." I know some people who use "they", but as that both sounds and is ungrammatical,...
12
votes
11answers
6k views

What do you call a woman who's feeling “emotional”?

It's that time of the month, your female partner has begun to fault pick you, for no explicable reason she becomes weepy, and anything you say or do will be criticized or misinterpreted. Is there a ...
4
votes
5answers
2k views

Is “European Peninsula” a common name for Europe?

In this article, Europe was called the “European Peninsula”. Is that a common name for Europe? Here is the whole sentence from the article: We have seen that Ukraine’s fate is not yet settled, ...
1
vote
3answers
1k views

What is an appropriate replacement for the term “oriental” when used as an ethnicity? [duplicate]

When I was a child I remember frequently hearing references to "oriental" people. Of course "oriental" now has a pejorative connotation, and generally "asian" is preferred. However, I can't help but ...
2
votes
7answers
7k views

“Died in an accident” or “killed in an accident”?

When speaking of someone who lost their life as a result of accidental circumstances are the two phrases below interchangeable? He was killed in an accident.   She died in an accident. ...
0
votes
3answers
6k views

How to unambiguously refer to someone from India [duplicate]

One can refer to an American Indian as a Native American, but I cannot come up with an unambiguous term for an Indian from the Indian subcontinent. How can I refer to someone who is from the country ...
0
votes
2answers
87 views

Is phrase “wheeled his way somewhere” neutral?

To put the things into perspective, I am no native speaker. I've learnt English in a variety of places, school being one of them. My English tutor presented a phrase to descibe a movement of a ...
1
vote
2answers
359 views

British Isles - Acceptable? [closed]

Is the term British Isles still acceptable, or is it considered offensive to Irish people who may not consider their island legitimately connected to Great Britain?
5
votes
1answer
1k views

How do words become derogatory or politically incorrect?

I know how words can become racist but I'm not sure how a word becomes derogatory or politically incorrect. If seems as though once one does, a new term is created to replace it that is not derogatory ...
4
votes
3answers
2k views

Has the suffix “-trix” acquired a pejorative meaning in recent years?

A couple days ago I needed the correct word for a female aviator, which I figured was aviatress. A dictionary.com search provided aviatress, aviatrice and aviatrix as acceptable choices. ...
2
votes
4answers
2k views

Is there a more tactful way to tell someone they are “difficult to work with”?

I want to tell someone they have been “difficult to work with” in writing, but I don’t want to put it quite so directly. Is there another way to write it so that doesn’t sound as if it were some ...
7
votes
6answers
10k views

Short, Politically Correct word for Native Americans [closed]

No more than four syllables, more PC than Indians. EDIT: I arbitrarily chose four syllables because any more seemed like a mouthful. I like to be PC and not have to stumble over 6+ syllables.
0
votes
2answers
404 views

Politically correct way to refer to a French individual

What is currently accepted as the proper title for a person from France? Is it still the gender-specific Frenchman/Frenchwoman, or is Frenchperson the new term? (I use French as just an example, ...
-1
votes
4answers
1k views

Are terms like “policeman” still gender-exclusive if they refer to one specific man?

I'm reading a news article about a male police officer and the author calls him a "policeman." This word seems unsophisticated to me, but is it still sexist if it refers to a man?