Is there a term or word for the process of a group of people taking (or attempting to) an insulting word/phrase and making it their own? I'm thinking about something more than normalization or desensitization but more of a process of almost making it part of their identity.

For example, 'queer' and 'gay' used to be insulting terms for homosexual people. However now it is included in the LGBTQ acronym. On the flip side, 'Faggot' is still insulting and no attempt has been made to 'own' it.

To a lesser extent the word 'nigger' has been taken on and used by various people in songs etc. I believe someone tried to trademark the word 'nigga' as a brand name for genuine business purposes. The attempts to 'own' this insulting word have been less successful than 'queer'.

What is the word or term for this process?

  • No need for disclaimers. As this is a language analysis site within SE, anything goes for taboo words in the text of a question or answer as long as it is -about- the word and not using it (well. don't be a **** about it, pragmatically speaking). But please bowdlerize titles as those appear on the front page and in much more public places like the Hot Network Questions that should be SFW. – Mitch Jan 24 '20 at 2:04
  • Sometimes a word is 'reclaimed' for just the group, not the public at large. I think that's an important distinction...often missed. – KannE Jan 24 '20 at 5:23

The process is known as reclaiming or sometimes reappropriating.

See uses such as

On the flip side 'Faggot' is still insulting and no attempt has been made to 'own' it.

This is quite incorrect, many attempts have been made to reclaim faggot and especially fag.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.