Should Nazi be capitalized in the phrase grammar nazi/Nazi?

While I can't think of any other examples right now, I would like to extend the question to ask if the words which are historically nouns should be capitalized in similar phrases.

  • See this meta question. – cornbread ninja 麵包忍者 Jul 9 '12 at 15:00
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    Note the meta question. No one who knows what happened in Europe in the 30s and 40s should use the term in this flippant manner. – Barrie England Jul 9 '12 at 15:40
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    @Barrie Maybe so, but by that standard, a lot of metaphors in English would have to be abandoned. We often say "Bob put our teams score over the top when he just killed that ball", "Sally's singing last night was terrible. She murdered that song", "For the new product line our sales force is targetting young black men", etc. We use rather a lot of violent metaphors, actually. – Jay Jul 9 '12 at 16:39
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    @Mitch: Yes, I expect Europeans are more sensitive (and perhaps better informed) about the matter. – Barrie England Jul 9 '12 at 19:12
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    @Fumble: Like so much of language, humor depends on context. As for that Internet meme, I can appreciate its cleverness, and I might even chuckle at its irony over pizza & beer with guy friends. But I wouldn't dare mention it at a Memorial Day ceremony, nor would I tell it to my uncle, the WWII vet, at the Thanksgiving dinner table, and expect him to burst out laughing. We could open a new ELU single-word-request question, "What do you call someone who doesn't seem to realize when a humorous term is more inappropriate than funny?" and I'd suggest uncouth. I say, use "Nazi" with caution. – J.R. Jul 10 '12 at 10:47

Lowercase is permitted.

I would recommend lowercase, if you are not actually referring to the Nazi party, its members, or principles.


Either one works.

Whether you capitalize Nazi or leave it generically uncapitalized depends on how much you want to emphasize it, and how much respect you want to appear to show for the NSDAP.

Oh, and this is not about grammatical correctness. Grammar has nothing to do with literacy issues like spelling, punctuation, or capitalization. Grammar has to do with spoken language, and these issues don't arise there.

  • Thanks to you, I need to add grammar to a growing list of definitions related to grammar (or maybe I should just say language in case I'm mistaken) that I need to revisit. – Oxwivi Jul 9 '12 at 15:29
  • @Oxwivi: For what grammar really is, start with a little Logic, then try Verb Phrases. Most of the relevant terminology is developed there. After that, try your luck with Object and Subject Complements, and then maybe Equi and Raising. – John Lawler Jul 9 '12 at 15:42
  • Thanks for the links. I chose @Tolerance72's answer cause I'm going to use lowercase nazi not because of the amount of respoect, but because I'm not 'actually referring to the Nazi party, its members, or principles'. – Oxwivi Jul 10 '12 at 16:05

As "Nazi" is an acronym and a proper noun, I think it should be capitalized. Whether or not you are referring to the literal Nazi party, that is still where the name comes from. Like, "French" refers to the nation of France, but even when you are using the word in a way that is not literally referring to that nation -- "French bread", "a French-sounding name", etc -- you still capitalize it.

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    French is often used in lower case (although to be fair it's only lower-cased when used as a verb - its use as an adjective is always capitalized.) I started this comment because of "frenching" ribs - trimming the meat and fat from the end so there's a nice clean bone handle when you eat your chop - but it turns out that "frenching" has several meanings, all culinary of course! – MT_Head Jul 9 '12 at 16:54
  • @MT_Head You've got me there. I don't recall ever hearing this use or meaning of the word "[f/F]rench". (I'm not any sort of culinary expert ... except for an innate desire to consume large quantities.) It brings up the question whether it's lower case here because it's a verb, or for some other reason, or no particular reason. – Jay Jul 16 '12 at 13:50

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