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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72
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10answers
12k 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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
18
votes
11answers
2k views

Use of “separation of church and state” in non-Christian countries

Does the term separation of church and state also apply in non-Christian countries, for example Egypt? Can we say separation of mosque and state? Is there a generic, politically correct alternative ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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-...
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 ...
10
votes
5answers
2k views

What does humor-challenged mean?

When describing a person as humor-challenged, what does it mean?
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 "...
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.
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 ...
7
votes
8answers
4k views

Politically correct term for someone who is Internet challenged?

What is the politically correct term for someone who is not very Internet savvy?
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?
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 ...
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 ...
5
votes
1answer
186 views

Why do newspapers use the terms “women voters” and “women candidates”?

I've noticed that when discussing political demographics or candidates, many reporters use the phrases "women voters" and "women candidates". This feels horribly awkward grammatically. It's hard to ...
5
votes
1answer
59 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 ...
4
votes
5answers
2k views

Is there any reason why English doesn’t add respectful words in every sentence? [closed]

My mother tongue, Korean, and its neighbor Japanese have postpositions for expressing honoring the opposite in each sentence when we say to seniors or strangers if these are younger than the speaker. ...
4
votes
5answers
3k views

What is a more politically correct way to call something a “Red-Headed Step-Child”?

I can't use the phrase "second-class citizen" either. This is for a professional blog post, so I'd rather stay away from "red-headed step-child". I can't use "second-class citizen" because I'm ...
4
votes
2answers
580 views

Has “mother” become politically incorrect?

Has mother become politically incorrect? The word mom now seems to have replaced mother throughout popular news articles. Is there some reason besides political correctness, which until now has ...
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. ...
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, ...
4
votes
3answers
3k views

Is 'colorblind' the best word for people with color perception deficiencies? [closed]

I'm creating an application that has a checkbox to assist colorblind users. I'm not so fond of the term because it isn't accurate, but at the same time I don't want to seem overtly politically correct....
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
2answers
4k views

Is the word “queer” an accepted and polite word for lesbian?

I was reading an article on the promulgation of the dental dam as a means of preventing sexually transmitted disease. Article here. The author of the article Arielle Duhaime-Ross consistently refers ...
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 ...
3
votes
2answers
133 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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
3
votes
1answer
375 views

Proper usage of the word “racism”?

It seems that historical definitions of the word "racism" use it to mean something similar to "racial prejudice" and "racial discrimination", without any reference to which race has power or doesn't ...
3
votes
1answer
26 views

Is “executive assistant” still much rarer than “secretary”?

According to Google NGrams, the term "executive assistant" is much less common than "secretary". Even if I try prefixing both with "his", to avoid meanings such as Secretary-General of the UN, the ...
3
votes
4answers
5k 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 ...
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 ...
2
votes
3answers
3k views

Is “Far East” politically incorrect? [closed]

In the United States I think it's considered politically incorrect or culuturally insensitive to refer to China and other Asian countries as the "Far East". That's because calling it East of anything ...
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. ...
2
votes
1answer
144 views

Is “tomfoolery” a gendered word?

I saw a comment of someone refering to tom-and-tanya-foolery as the gender-inclusive version of tomfoolery. I was completely unaware of tomfoolery having any gendered conotation at all. Is this a ...
2
votes
2answers
1k views

Freshman or Freshwoman

Can we use freshwoman to refer to a girl in her first year in college, or is freshman acceptable?
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
2
votes
1answer
527 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 ...
2
votes
6answers
2k views

A Less Offensive Word For Crippled Beggar? [closed]

What would be a nice way of saying a crippled beggar? For example I want to say "I gave some money to a crippled beggar who was begging on the road" but the word crippled and beggar doesn't seem nice ...
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 ...
1
vote
2answers
1k views

Do women tend to use the word “lovely” more often than men?

Do women tend to use the word lovely more often than men do? And also, should men rather avoid using this word when describing something they liked? meta: I hope this question doesn't sound too ...