The terms "politically correct" and "political correctness" are used by people everywhere on the political spectrum. However, these terms have garnered some negative connotations, sometimes being used in a derogatory way to refer to any attempt to advocate for respect for those who differ from the majority. See for example these quotes from the thread How has the meaning of "politically correct" changed?:

There are all kinds of things people say that are a little (or a lot) hurtful in this way. Sometimes, people who like to say these things ("lady doctor", for example) object when they're corrected and say "oh, sorry, guess that's not politically correct" implying that it is, however, just plain correct.

... it seems clear that the vast majority of derisive users of politically correct employ it to caricature and dismiss the views of political liberals.

Non-ironical usage of the phrase soon attracted mocking usage; and in the past two decades, the phrase has broadened further—first to refer disapprovingly to liberal political views on any subject ...

I don't want to use "political correctness" because I don't want to use the same term as those who who attack the principles of respect and equality. Using it can also offend or alienate some people. Is there a clear, more neutral equivalent?

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    I think this is an interesting but POB issue. Socially acceptable might be a more neutral expression : books.google.com/ngrams/…
    – user66974
    Commented Dec 13, 2015 at 11:08
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    What are "liberals"? Commented Dec 13, 2015 at 11:38
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    Similar as @Josh61 suggestion: socially responsible. Note the rising slope.
    – Graffito
    Commented Dec 17, 2015 at 17:00
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    This question is not a request for opinions. It is a rare thing: a word request with substantial thought going into it and showing evidence of research. Voting to reopen.
    – MetaEd
    Commented Jun 22, 2016 at 15:31
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    I can not understand what liberal has to do with it. It refers to a type of universal pragmatism unrelated to the advancement of any particular agenda. It is the rhetorical equivalent of not picking your nose in public.
    – Phil Sweet
    Commented Jun 22, 2016 at 16:13

3 Answers 3


There's a simple, clear, and neutral/positive term: It's respectful.

The word is also natural enough to use in this context that the word (in some form) can be found in the question itself. You lose the connotation that it's supposed to be language related to marginalized groups, and you also lose all sense that there's something political about it, but "politically incorrect term for X" is used even when X isn't a marginalized group, as in Wiktionary.

Here are some examples in use:


I don't think your question should be at all controversial. It'd be difficult to argue that the term "politically correct" itself hasnt' taken on more of a negative stigma than an instructive one.

That said, I think there are two main vectors from which to draw alternative terms to "politically correct". The first within a political context. The second, in reference to the always-changing lexicon of contemporary linguistic semantics.

So a simple alternative to "politically correct" within a political context might be "politically palatable"; and an alternate to "politically incorrect" might be "politically obnoxious".

I'm partial to reacting to terms perverted with political bias (especially when intended to deride the oppressed on a more subconscious level to maintain the status quo) directly, dismissively, and usually with levity. To that end, nobody likes to be called out as using "antiquated", "obnoxious", "old school", or "out of touch" terminology.

I don't know what hurt the opinion of the United States in Europe, our "rush" to war, or when Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld divided the continent into what he branded "old Europe" vs. "new Europe."

I hope that makes sense.


Inclusive language is language that strives not to exclude, insult, or offend people, whatever their race, gender, sex, sexual preference, age, class, religion, or other group. If by "political correctness" you mean language that is neutral and respectful, then "inclusive language" would be a good alternative. (Although "political correctness" does have other meanings.)

It's more inclusive to use a word like "chairperson" rather than "chairman", as the latter excludes women. Similarly "he" or "she", "man" or "women" will exclude non-binary, intersex, and other categories of people. But it is also extended to terms which may be considered derogatory or insulting by a group, or which may diminish or slight a group, which is where it gets more complex and to some extent you have to know what is considered offensive. "Person-first language" is a subcategory where you say "person with disability" or "person with autism", to emphasise the person not the condition.

You also see more specific phrases like "gender-inclusive language" where the intent is to avoid discriminating against women.

Other discussions of the topic:

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