I heard lots of these words from my colleagues.

Definitions in Dictionary do not help me much.

What I really want to know is what these words actually mean when using with friends and what situation we can use them. (A frequently used situation would be really appreciated.)

Also, are they offensive?

  • 1
    1. Do not use. 2. Google the phrases to see how they occur in practice/ how others uttered them in what context with what connotations.
    – Kris
    Aug 21, 2012 at 14:20
  • 5
    If you don't know how and when to use offensive language, don't. This isn't something you can learn from a single short answer on the Internet. And you are better off discussing this with your friends anyway, since it's them who will be on the receiving end, not us.
    – RegDwigнt
    Aug 21, 2012 at 14:21
  • 3
    @RegDwightАΑA You are so lame!
    – bobobobo
    Aug 21, 2012 at 14:53

3 Answers 3


The phrase is, "You are so retarded" -- the sentence calls for an adjective -- or "You are a retard". Either way, it is a short way of saying "mentally retarded", that is, suffering from a mental illness that results in abnormally low intelligence. When used outside a clinical setting, it means "You are stupid". This is generally considered not politically correct these days, as it makes light of mental illness. In some circles people might criticize you for using this phrase. It's also highly insulting. Depending on your relationship with your friends, this may be considered an inappropriate thing to say, or it might fall into the category of good-natured banter. If you told this same friend, "You are incredibly stupid", would he get mad or would he laugh? It would be in the same category.

Assuming that such an insult would be taken as a joke or a minor insult -- or that you want to insult your associate -- you might use such a phrase when the person has done something dumb or foolish.

"You are so lame" means that the person has said or done something inappropriate or awkward. We often say "That was so lame", referring to the action, rather than the person. Like, a man tries to ask a woman on a date and uses some cliche pick-up line. She brushes him off. His friends say, "That was the best pick-up line you could think of? That was so lame!" Or someone makes a poor excuse for failure. This might be labeled "lame".

While calling something "lame" might be considered to be making light of physical handicaps, it doesn't have the same negative PC connotations that "retard" does.

  • 1
    +1 for a good answer, but I'll add that "retarded" is often associated with mental disability rather than mental illness.
    – Martin
    Aug 21, 2012 at 16:00
  • @Martin I freely admit I'm not clear on the definitions of the terms. IANAP (I Am Not A Psychologist) :-)
    – Jay
    Aug 21, 2012 at 16:10
  • 1
    This is very clear explanation and I can get the ideas what they actually mean to say those words. Thanks!
    – A-letubby
    Aug 22, 2012 at 4:54

"Lame" is generally "something disappointing". A lamer is a "downer" or somebody who bums people out, or makes them feel dejected or disappointed.

"You are so lame!" is an expression you use to denote mild disappointment in a collegue. Depending on intonation, it can be very mild or actually quite serious. Say for example, a friend says "I hurt my knee I can't play basketball today". In that case you could say "You are so lame! We'll play again next week." Following with the latter sentence means that you're not really that disappointed, and he's not meant to take this mild insult too seriously.

On the other hand if the second sentence was "And I seriously think you're a piss weak individual!!" and was spoken in anger, you probably would damage your friendship a bit.

Mental retardation literally means "mentally slow". Between friends, it is a mild way to call a friend a "dunce", or let him know you disagree with him in a lightly judgemental way. A person picks up a glass bottle from the ground and cuts his finger. "Why did you pick that up? You are so retarded!" might be an appropriate response.

Note that there has been a strong backlash against use of "retard" from the caregivers of the mentally retarded community. In their view calling someone a "retard" should not be used as a mild insult, because mental retardation is a serious issue and should not be used to make fun.


I would like to clarify that a mental disability — as retarded was originally intended to mean — is really quite different from mental illness. A person with a mental illness might, say, hear voices telling them to hurt themselves. A person with a mental disability might have trouble with reversals when writing characters like numbers and letters. An individual might have one of these conditions or both of them, but they are very dissimilar conditions to be sure.

As for myself, I work in education with the mentally disabled. And yes, we don’t think very highly of those who use the “R” word.

  • In DSM-V, the word "mental retardation" has been recommended to be changed to "intellectual developmental disorder" so as to make it more clear as to what it represents psychologically and also to clearly differentiate it from the casual scenarios the word "retarded" or "mentally retarded" is used in.
    – Mohit
    Dec 28, 2012 at 6:27

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