Questions tagged [offensive-language]

This tag is for questions about offensive language. It is for questions about words or phrases that could be considered offensive. If reason of offensiveness is belittling or painting a negative light instead of 'just offending' CONSIDER using the tag PEJORATIVE-LANGUAGE.

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22
votes
7answers
75k views

Non-offensive substitute for a swear word

What term describes a non-offensive substitute for a swear word? For example, Battlestar Galactica used frack instead of fuck. Another example is the use of snap instead of shit. I think I may have ...
56
votes
5answers
42k views

“Screwed” vs. “nailed”: why is the slang so different?

While the two names nail and screw have similar shapes and functions, why do the verbs differ so much? Someone has screwed something sounds like they have ruined something to me, while someone has ...
37
votes
7answers
16k views

How bad is the f-word, really?

I am confused: on the one hand, many of my native-speaker friends keep telling me that the f-word is very, very bad. Much worse than the s-word for example. On the other hand, I see it being used ...
38
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6answers
11k views

How did “Jew” become pejorative?

For some reason, the word Jew often carries a pejorative or offensive connotation, which the related adjective Jewish does not carry. This is most obvious when either word is used as an attributive: ...
12
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6answers
15k views

Why did the descriptive “Orientals” shift into a pejorative?

It seems as if a shift occurred and the descriptive "Oriental" was replaced by "Asian" as the accepted term in polite society — what caused this shift?
161
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7answers
222k views

What the #$@&%*! is that called?

Is there a name for the use of symbols in place of curse words, for example #$@&%*!?
27
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4answers
72k views

What's the difference between “informal”, “colloquial”, “slang”, and “vulgar”?

It seems many people get confused about the differences (and similarities) between "colloquial" and "slang", so what exactly does each term apply to? But to be even more thorough it seems to me we ...
40
votes
7answers
25k views

Less vulgar synonyms for “circlejerk”

Someone asked in the Math.StackExchange chatroom what a "more refined word for circlejerk" might be. UrbanDictionary defines this (in our desired usage) as: [...] pompous, self-congratulatory ...
24
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7answers
7k views

Does “gay” still include the meaning “merry”?

Dictionary.com lists eight meanings of gay, with “merry, lively” as the first entry. Microsoft banned an Xbox user for listing Fort Gay (a real place) as his hometown: Xbox Live considered the term ...
8
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3answers
7k views

Why isn't “it” used in place of “he or she”, “he/she”, “s/he” etc.?

There is a related discussion on this Q&A site. My question is different. I'm all for gender awareness, but why hasn't a properly defined pronoun "it" been used instead of "he/she" or "he or she",...
14
votes
2answers
8k views

What makes a word offensive?

Whilst I was sat on the bus yesterday, I overheard a group of teenagers discussing various things. As per the usual social requirement at that age, every 5th word was an expletive. Not exactly the ...
3
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6answers
78k views

What is a polite substitute for badass (used as a noun)? [closed]

Badass and BAMF are both modern words with approximately the same meaning: "Someone who is awesome to an extreme level, thereby leveraging unquestionable authority." Is there another noun or title ...
12
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3answers
3k views

Where does the word “*ag” come from?

Once upon a time in America, particularly during the 1970s, if you asked an American whether they ‘fancied a shag’, they might well have thought of this: And therefore declined the offer for fear of ...
8
votes
6answers
538 views

How to communicate the idea of a “brown-noser” without the vulgar connotations?

What term would communicate something similar to "brown noser", without the vulgar connotation? (Here's one citation of the term being used by WWII soldiers, but I'm guessing it was used before that. ...
11
votes
6answers
295k views

Madam vs. Ma'am

I suspect that the answer to this depends on region, so insights from multiple areas would be beneficial: It has been my impression that in the US addressing a woman as "Madam" is considered ...
33
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6answers
85k views

Is there a difference between “arse” and “ass”?

From a comment here, in frequent usage, arse and ass are often interchangeable when used to refer to buttocks or to a person of dubious charms. However, although “to arse about” has a vague connection ...
24
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6answers
110k views

“Hooker”, “whore”, “prostitute”, when to use which?

"Hooker", "whore", and "prostitute" all mean whore; what are the differences between them?
23
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5answers
24k views

Is “what on earth” still commonly used in real life? Is there any alternative that is not cursing or obscene?

I'm a non-native speaker. When I was at school, we were taught that "on earth" is used for emphasis in questions such as: What on earth are you talking about? However, from my experience (English ...
15
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3answers
4k views

Why the opposite meanings of the word “bollocks”?

The phrases the dog’s bollocks, the bee’s bollocks, and golden bollocks are used to mean something or someone excellent, fine, or well thought of. But if one were to say a load of bollocks, or ...
14
votes
3answers
12k views

Is “Dutch wife” one of those “Dutch words”?

The term "Dutch wife" is listed as having several somewhat related meanings. Wiktionary describes it as meaning 1) a body-length pillow, 2) a wicker or bamboo tube that someone sleeps in (also called ...
6
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4answers
18k views

Does “This blows!” (it's bad) derive from “This sucks!”?

The origin of blow = suck, be bad/unpleasant recently came up in comments to this ELL question. I'd always assumed it was a standard slang "meaning reversal" from suck. But a few minutes on Google ...
4
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5answers
6k views

Why aren't there any common words for 'defecating' and 'urinating'?

Besides 'poo(p)ing' and 'peeing/weeing' used by and to children, besides 'shitting/crapping' and 'pissing' which are spoken, not polite, says the Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English, besides '...
8
votes
3answers
43k views

What is the origin of the word “wog”?

Some friend of mine told me it was an acronym for "western oriental gentleman" and was a form of sarcastic politeness. Is this true, and is it offensive to use this word?
49
votes
16answers
72k views

What do you call a person who uses vulgar words too often? [closed]

Is there a word which has this definition: usage of vulgar or abusive words too often especially while chatting or talking to someone or while giving a speech. What do you call a person who uses ...
45
votes
8answers
18k views

What is a less controversial name for the clothing item known as a “wife-beater” in the United States?

In the United States, a white sleeveless shirt is often referred to as a "wife-beater". Typically I try to avoid using "wife-beater" due to its negative connotation. I've tried using a few different ...
31
votes
12answers
7k views

Just how offensive are the terms “retarded” and “gay”?

My college-age son and his friends use the terms "retarded" and "gay" pretty much interchangeably to mean substandard, bad, lame (in the sense of ineffectual or weak) or just plain wrong. I've ...
62
votes
8answers
52k views

If cow = beef, pig = pork, and deer = venison, then where is the word for human = [flesh as food source]?

Maybe it's the season of Halloween, because it's kind of a grim question, but I have seriously wondered from a language point of view - is there a word for human as 'food-meat', or has there ever been,...
28
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6answers
278k views

Meaning and usage of “bite me”

I often come across the phrase bite me in many TV shows. What does it mean and is there a specific context in which this phrase can be used?
14
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2answers
183k views

Correct usage of replacing cuss words with symbols

I've noticed that symbols (i.e. #, $, %, !, *, etc.) are commonly used to filter profanity/foul language. Just out of curiosity, is there a specific way to do this. I've noticed sometimes there isn'...
13
votes
6answers
23k views

How many different parts of speech can the f-word be used as?

In an "interesting" thread of comments we began to look at the word fuck in several different uses. Most of them were interjections and verb uses as would be expected. But, perhaps dialectally, the ...
8
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5answers
14k views

What is currently the most obscene word in British English? [closed]

In a recent question, I realized that while I know what's currently considered the most obscene word in American English ("cunt"), I am told that word is much more unexceptional and workaday in ...
18
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2answers
7k views

When and why did the N-word and “negro” go apart?

Both the terms nigger and negro come from the Spanish and Portuguese Negro which denotes "black". But today they have widely different connotations, the former is considered a horrible racial slur, ...
31
votes
8answers
8k views

Offensiveness of “black” in reference to race or skin colour

Is black offensive when used to refer to race or skin colour? If so, should we then not use white as well?
22
votes
11answers
17k views

Is it okay to use the word “Negro” in a historical context? [closed]

In a few days, I have to do a class presentation project about the 1920s Harlem Renaissance. I want to say that the movement's original name was the "New Negro Movement," but I'm not sure if that's ...
13
votes
3answers
2k views

Why are nouns sometimes pejorative when used attributively?

Certain nouns can often be used as noun adjuncts in place of a corresponding adjective, with no change in literal meaning, where: The noun is not pejorative when used nominatively by itself. Nor is ...
8
votes
7answers
29k views

Politically correct synonym for “Indian giver”?

The phrase "Indian giver" means someone who gives a person a gift and then wants it back later. It's occasionally a useful concept, but the dictionary says it's offensive and I also think so. Is there ...
4
votes
6answers
42k views

Which one is it? “Damn” or “damned”?

I know that commonly in America, they use "damn" or "damned" to describe things. Sometimes, more appropriately, it's even "darn" or "darned". For example, This damn/damned computer is too slow. ...
20
votes
4answers
4k views

Is there anything wrong with the word “denigrate”?

A few years ago there was a controversy over the word niggardly — a perfectly innocent word that unfortunately sounds like a racial slur. Given that controversy, is it safe to use denigrate, which ...
12
votes
10answers
12k views

Polite, non-profane equivalent to ‘kick a**’

So, you have a web site to which you've posted a review stating "How to Kick Ass". This gets censored, which I can understand. What's a very colloquial, not necessarily modern slang, easily ...
11
votes
1answer
5k views

What name for bowdlerisation with asterisks (e.g., “f*ck”)?

I have always been intrigued by the English use of asterisks to replace vowels in words considered as offensive, and the reasons it seems somewhat language-specific. My (very related) questions on ...
9
votes
7answers
8k views

How to refer to people of mixed race?

As is commonly known, one of the most delicate question is how to refer to people of mixed race, which can be a matter of condemnation. Some words may have fueled the problem and I never would have ...
8
votes
4answers
6k views

Is calling a homosexual person “gay” offensive?

My native language is German but I’ve been watching a lot of TV in English. During a conversation about the English language, a question about the term gay came up. Is calling a homosexual person gay ...
5
votes
3answers
6k views

How old is “Bollocks!”?

As a non-English native it took me years to grow up and understand, what meant "Never Mind the Bollocks" as the title of Sex Pistols album. Using "bollocks" as "rubbish", "crap" or what so ever took ...
10
votes
4answers
17k views

Why is “bloody” considered obscene in the UK but not in the US?

Why is the word bloody considered obscene in the UK but not so in the US?
8
votes
6answers
47k views

Is the term “halfcast” racist?

When I was at university in the late 90s, a girl I shared a flat with would use the term "halfcast" to describe people of mixed race, especially in the context of people who had a similar skin colour ...
7
votes
6answers
1k views

Better way to say “cover our a***s”

I'm looking for a couple of good coined phrases that I can use in front of business people, apologies if the one I had in mind offends anyone. I'd use "can sleep at night" but I want the phrase to ...
7
votes
5answers
34k views

Where does the term Cracker come from, and how disparaging is it?

My grandmother from Georgia openly refers to herself and other white southerners as "Crackers", and sometimes adds a state as in "Georgia Cracker" or "Florida Cracker". She says it means simple folks ...
5
votes
3answers
3k views

Is the phrase “all to c**k” considered profane?

I occasionally use the colloquialism "all to cock" to mean "disastrously wrong". I've always thought it a benign phrase, but recently I've wondered whether the use of the word "cock" in this situation ...
3
votes
3answers
2k views

How bad is the use of “n***er” today?

If I call a Black person "nigger", how bad is this today? If a Black calls another Black with this word, is it wrong?
3
votes
1answer
163 views

What is the grammatical structure of the expression “F*** you!” and its derivatives?

I heard that expression along with its derivatives so many times, in movies or otherwise, but I can't get it grammatically, meaning, does it stand for a complete sentence like "I will fuck you!" or "I ...