My boss just floored me with a doozy of an assertion: he had me change someone's password, which contained the word "muslin", because "you can't go calling people Muslims in this day and age".

Yeah, jaw, meet floor; floor, meet jaw.

Anyway, so I looked up the etymologies, and sure enough, while both ultimately derive from Arabic words, that's as close as the relationship comes. But my boss was adamant: he believes that, all facts aside, people associate "muslin" the fabric with "Muslim" the religion. I certainly have never encountered such an association. Has anybody else?

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    IHMO, the guy is basicaly saying, "I'm both racist and stupid." The two tend to go hand-in-hand though, so there's nothing special about that. – T.E.D. Aug 31 '12 at 22:22
  • Wow. That's spectacularly ignorant. You could at least let your boss know that the word muslim, is not a religion. Islam is. Did you find out why your boss thinks that? It would be fascinating, to know. – Tristan Aug 31 '12 at 22:45
  • I remember reading somewhere (and being surprised) that muslin and muslim have a common source. But that must be a folk etymology, given the scholarly etymology coming from the town of Mosul. I don't see the folk etymology being racist, similar things reasonably being connected with similars. What one does with one's knowledge (accurate or not) is a different story. – Mitch Sep 5 '16 at 1:52
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    Wait... both you and your boss can read your co-workers passwords? And also change them? Wait.. and make judgements about them? That's messed up! – Mitch Sep 5 '16 at 1:54
  • @Mitch: we assign the passwords - the users don't choose them, and can't change them directly. It's not messed up, it's just old-fashioned. – Marthaª Sep 5 '16 at 13:42

I would definitely be niggardly in my vocabulary around this homo sapien. Otherwise, you might get into a niggling argument with him and end up jaculated out on your coccyx. Then you might have to switch careers. You could end up a thespian or a miner looking for cummingtonite. You might not even be able to find a job and resort to a life of crime. Which would, most likely, result with you in the penal system. I doubt you'll find any muslin sheets there.

  • And after that, he'd probably have to move to Scunthorpe. – chaos May 3 '12 at 17:36
  • I want to upvote twice: once for making me laugh so hard I had to clean off my monitor, and once because this reads like a script for the next DirecTV commercial. (For those unfamiliar with the ad campaign, you can view two samples here and here. No, I do not work for DirecTV.) – J.R. May 3 '12 at 17:55
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    As the asker, I can upvote twice (well, ok, so one of them's called an "accept", but potayto potahto). Tee hee. – Marthaª May 3 '12 at 18:21

Many many fabrics are named from the place of origin and many of these in turn are from the Arabic countries. Muslin does NOT come from the word Muslim but rather from the Iraqi town of Mosul. The fabric Gauze came originally from Gaza. Damask is named for Damascus, Syria. And from Europe we have Denim from the french, "De Nimes" {from [the city of] Nimes)


It appears to be relatively common. See http://eggcorns.lascribe.net/forum/viewtopic.php?id=57 and Google search for "muslin and muslim" (double whammy—both the results and the text at the top: "Did you mean: muslim and muslim").


I have encountered such an association. From idiots. (Tea Party protestors wishing to accuse President Obama of being a muslim have been known on more than one occasion to accuse him of being a muslin.)

  • This I find a particularly nefarious attack. Not only is it patently untrue, but it invites you to be offended at the implication. If you do that, then you are implicitly agreeing with the implication that being a Muslim is a bad thing. Its kind of like the old "When did you stop beating your wife?" – T.E.D. Aug 31 '12 at 22:20
  • @T.E.D. - but, but, who wouldn't be offended at being called a cloth-type? I cannot imagine how anyone could let such a thing slide - I shall not be folded up and set on a shelf! – Megha Sep 5 '16 at 9:57

Unfortunately, it's not what a word objectively means, but what it sounds like that causes offense. So I wouldn't use a word like "niggardly" in speech, because it sounds like the n-word, even though it has nothing to do with race.

On the other hand, a password is "private," no one is supposed to know it, so you do have reason to be confused about your boss' stance.

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    In general, I'd agree with this. But since when is being "Muslim" by itself a bad thing? If anything, I find the intimation that it is a bad name to tar someone with is itself offensive. – T.E.D. Aug 31 '12 at 22:17
  • There used to be a comment exchange about the whole privacy (non-) issue, but it was deleted as off-topic. – Marthaª Aug 31 '12 at 22:58

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