I'm not a native English speaker and I'm puzzled where the use of grammar nazi would be appropriate.

I have seen it numerous times around the SE network and was wondering when the use would be appropriate and whether it is likely that someone might get offended.

  • 3
    Related meta questions: “Grammar Nazis”, What is the opposite of Grammar Nazi?
    – RegDwigнt
    Commented Apr 20, 2011 at 18:38
  • @RegDwight: Thanks, The accepted answer to the first questions gives an interesting point of view.
    – Trufa
    Commented Apr 20, 2011 at 18:41
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    It seems hardly right not to link to this video
    – F'x
    Commented Apr 20, 2011 at 18:49
  • Another alternative is David Foster Wallace's SNOOT. Commented Apr 21, 2011 at 0:40
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    I'm not clear, and reading through the answerd I don't think the answerers are clear either: are you asking if it would be offensive to the person you're calling a grammar nazi, or if it would be offensive to others who heard you use the term in some sort of politically incorrect or taboo sense?
    – DCShannon
    Commented Dec 21, 2015 at 19:20

8 Answers 8


For whatever reason, x Nazi is not as offensive as you'd expect in the US. There was a recurring character on Seinfeld known as the "soup Nazi" and nobody got bent out of shape.

That said, substituting the phrase "The Grammar Police" doesn't even put you at risk and may be more accurate (since the complaint is that the person is officiously interfering in the affairs of others, not that he or she is a racist genocidal maniac).

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    I don'r really like "The Grammar Police", it sounds goofy, but clearly it's use is quite spread.
    – Trufa
    Commented Apr 20, 2011 at 18:57
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    @Trufa - Your dislike of The Grammar Police is nothing compared to mine of the apostrophe in its ! -- The Spelling Police Commented Apr 20, 2011 at 19:01
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    fair enough you grammar nazi!
    – Trufa
    Commented Apr 20, 2011 at 21:02
  • I feel grammar nazi funny rather than offensive.
    – user4951
    Commented Sep 17, 2012 at 2:36
  • @JimThio True, although it may be recommended to avoid the use of "x Nazi" if even only to avoid fulfilling Godwin's Law.
    – localhost
    Commented May 28, 2015 at 21:55

As everyone else has said, the use of "X Nazi" (soup Nazi, grammar Nazi, etc.) is surprisingly common in the US. However, I once met a person who got very upset at the use of such a term, saying that it made light of the experience of anyone in the Holocaust by trivializing the use of the term Nazi. Since then, I have personally steered clear of its use. So take it for what it's worth.

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    I agree entirely with the view you heard expressed. Those who use the term lightly can know nothing of what happened in Europe in the 1930s and 1940s. Commented Jan 2, 2012 at 17:09
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    @BarrieEngland With all due respect, there are those who would assert that the only way to properly treat the Nazis is to deny them the dignity of respect for their name not by avoiding using it, but instead to use it freely for anything even vaguely negative; to make a mockery of the Nazis by turning their name into a joke.
    – nohat
    Commented Sep 15, 2012 at 19:24
  • I agree with you. I'm German-speaking (although not from Germany) and I'd like to stay clear of this term as well, when I'm not specifically targeting English-speakers. What would be an equivalent term with a similar semantics (funny, slightly reproachful, but not really offensive)? I actually asked this as a question here: english.stackexchange.com/questions/202954/…
    – Lukas Eder
    Commented Oct 17, 2014 at 9:45
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    My mom lost two aunts and two uncles in the Nazi holocaust. In the world where I grew up, that N word is no more acceptable than the one referring to African Americans.
    – user170973
    Commented Apr 18, 2016 at 16:45

Any time you refer to another person as "he or she is a .." (fill in whatever) you are labeling them. It is a hostile act and you are indicating that there is something wrong with them that they can't change, rather than referring to something that they did and that you disagree with. It is a form of name-calling, what positive can come out of that?

In addition, I believe that the word itself is offensive to people of German origin. Apparently, in English-speaking countries kids are taught that "all Germans are nazis", and Germans who were born after World War II think it is not fair to be held responsible for something that happened before they were born.

If you feel that somebody is overly obsessive about grammar, why not just say that, instead of name-calling?

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    In what English-speaking country are children taught that German people are Nazis?
    – Brian S
    Commented Oct 20, 2014 at 16:11
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    I think this is a deliberate parody, but I'm not sure. Commented Oct 21, 2014 at 12:38

I flinch every time I hear the "____ Nazi" construction, and judging from Lynn's answer and Barrie England and Lukas Eder's comment on it, I'm not the only person like this. If you're writing for a large audience, be aware that some fraction of your readers will experience this phrasing as a slap in the face.

This type of reasoning is why I never make "In Soviet Russia..." jokes in front of a classroom. For me, twenty-nine students laughing just aren't worth the tiny chance of one student getting really uncomfortable because they're acutely aware that their family barely survived the Holodomor.


I'm not a regular here, but I would say that pretty much it's never really politically correct, especially to call someone else one. "Nazi" is a pretty strong word with bad connotations.

That said, I do call myself a "grammar nazi" a lot, so what do I know?

  • Thank you for your perspective, it is true that when you say it to yourself, it is more difficult to offend someone (by only using the word "Nazi").
    – Trufa
    Commented Apr 20, 2011 at 18:55

Although the word is in fairly common use, I would hesitate to call anyone a grammar nazi, just the same as I would avoid calling them any other negative term. I don't think that there is any particular negative connotation with the term, but it certainly is not a positive word. By calling someone a grammarian you are more likely to flatter than offend them. Feel free to use it with regard to yourself, though.

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    While this may be true, I don't want to flatter the one who "deserves" grammar Nazi, rather, joke about the his "obsessive" behavior.
    – Trufa
    Commented Apr 20, 2011 at 21:05

It isn't so much politically correct as it isn't really considered incorrect. Nazis are generally a non-topic in the US; if you want something offensive you need to use particular examples (e.g. Hilter) or specifically refer to The Nazis.

That being said, some variations have their own offensiveness attached (e.g. feminazi) but my hunch is that this has more to do with the usage of the term than the inclusion of "-nazi."

The internet tends to care less about political correctness and the phrase "grammar nazi" is more common when you can pick apart the spellings of there/their/they're and your/you're. I advise against using it in person until you hear someone else use it.


If you call someone a grammar nazi, there's a decent chance that they will be offended. This is because you are accusing them of being unreasonable. If you called them the grammar police, I would expect a nearly identical reaction.

If someone hears you call someone else a grammar nazi, it would be very strange for them to be offended at the mere use of the term.

It sounds like there are some regional differences in how this term may be perceived, especially in Europe. To be clear, I'm an American and I'm referring to American usage. I do not however think that the criticism that this usage must be do to ignorance is at all fair. I've been to Germany, where I visited plenty of historical Nazi sites including the Nuremberg Documentation Center and Dachau. I'm familiar with what went on over there. The usage of nazi in the sense of someone who is simply authoritarian does indeed trivialize the word, which should be insulting to the Nazis, not their victims.

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