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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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23 votes
7 answers
90k 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 ...
James's user avatar
  • 333
59 votes
5 answers
64k 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 ...
Ali's user avatar
  • 747
40 votes
6 answers
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: ...
JSBձոգչ's user avatar
  • 54.9k
36 votes
7 answers
25k 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 ...
vonjd's user avatar
  • 3,669
31 votes
4 answers
85k 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 ...
hippietrail's user avatar
  • 7,804
14 votes
6 answers
17k 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?
user avatar
11 votes
2 answers
2k views

"Swear" as a noun as opposed to "swear word"

I'm a teenager from Chicago. During my childhood (and, presumably, that of almost all English-speaking children), I was taught that some words were "bad" words; these words were ...
Graham H.'s user avatar
  • 890
8 votes
6 answers
3k 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. ...
Joe's user avatar
  • 89
180 votes
7 answers
309k views

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

Is there a name for the use of symbols in place of curse words, for example #$@&%*!?
LarsTech's user avatar
  • 2,873
9 votes
3 answers
9k 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",...
grokus's user avatar
  • 3,684
9 votes
3 answers
28k views

Where does the slang word "bad" + "ass" (badass) come from?

What is the origin of the word badass? Why a "bad" ass/"bad" + "ass"? What is an ass that is bad and how can an ass that is bad describe a tough person?
user76935's user avatar
  • 1,143
90 votes
10 answers
39k views

Is "denigrate" a racist word? [duplicate]

A few years ago I was told not to use that word because, in addition to its negative meaning, it comes from Latin denigratus, past participle of denigrare, which means to blacken. Therefore, "to ...
Centaurus's user avatar
  • 50.2k
43 votes
8 answers
47k 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-...
anon's user avatar
  • 533
26 votes
7 answers
8k 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 ...
j-g-faustus's user avatar
  • 1,014
15 votes
2 answers
9k 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 ...
Polynomial's user avatar
  • 1,034
12 votes
3 answers
6k 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 ...
tchrist's user avatar
  • 136k
4 votes
6 answers
118k 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 ...
Artesian's user avatar
38 votes
6 answers
133k 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 ...
mfg's user avatar
  • 2,554
32 votes
6 answers
331k 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?
Vamsi Emani's user avatar
  • 1,765
25 votes
5 answers
32k 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 ...
Betty's user avatar
  • 1,134
24 votes
6 answers
143k views

"Hooker", "whore", "prostitute", when to use which? [closed]

"Hooker", "whore", and "prostitute" all mean whore; what are the differences between them?
Yousui's user avatar
  • 5,695
19 votes
2 answers
5k views

Origin of the phrase "crazy as a coon"—is it racist?

Encountered most recently in the Procol Harum song "Lime Street." Does the phrase refer to a raccoon, or is the word here used in the sense of the slur?
guangming223's user avatar
16 votes
3 answers
5k 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 ...
Brian Hooper's user avatar
15 votes
6 answers
22k views

Why does swearing 'turn the air blue'?

Why do we say that the air is blue when someone has been swearing a lot?
val Bearman's user avatar
14 votes
3 answers
22k 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 ...
Golden Cuy's user avatar
  • 18.2k
14 votes
6 answers
61k 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 ...
David M's user avatar
  • 22.5k
12 votes
4 answers
42k views

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

Why is the word bloody considered offensive in Britain — where it is used as an adjectival expletive — but not so in the US?
user avatar
12 votes
6 answers
325k 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 ...
oosterwal's user avatar
  • 7,401
8 votes
3 answers
76k 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?
Thursagen's user avatar
  • 42.1k
5 votes
5 answers
8k 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 '...
user58319's user avatar
  • 4,112
122 votes
11 answers
82k views

What is the difference between “tits” and “boobs”?

What is the difference between “tits” and “boobs”? P.S. I'm not sure if this question is appropriate but as English is not my native language I really would love to know the difference.
Sergey's user avatar
  • 1,465
51 votes
16 answers
140k 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 ...
Xlam's user avatar
  • 841
45 votes
8 answers
64k 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 ...
Stevoisiak's user avatar
36 votes
10 answers
14k views

Is the term "aspie" derogatory?

Until today I had never heard of the shortened term "aspie" to refer to someone with Asperger syndrome. While the term strikes me as derogatory and belittling, I'm not a native speaker and obviously ...
Lilienthal's user avatar
35 votes
11 answers
9k 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 ...
Robusto's user avatar
  • 152k
30 votes
8 answers
9k 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?
user avatar
22 votes
4 answers
6k 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 ...
z7sg Ѫ's user avatar
  • 13.2k
22 votes
11 answers
28k 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 ...
Avital S.'s user avatar
  • 365
19 votes
10 answers
119k views

Is it offensive to call a redhead a "ginger"?

So I just re-watched this great comedy by Tim Minchin, and here are the questions: How bad/offensive is the g-word really (other than being an anagram of the n-word)? What are alternatives? Is "...
kolobos's user avatar
  • 293
18 votes
2 answers
10k 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, ...
SIMEL's user avatar
  • 1,339
16 votes
2 answers
282k 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'...
Freesnöw's user avatar
  • 819
13 votes
3 answers
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 ...
Mechanical snail's user avatar
13 votes
3 answers
22k views

Etymology of "half-assed"

The term "half-assed" is used to refer to something being sloppy or partially completed. For example, "You really did a half-assed job on those TPS reports, Bob." What is the etymology of this phrase? ...
Discord's user avatar
  • 340
12 votes
10 answers
24k 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 ...
Italian Philosophers 4 Monica's user avatar
11 votes
8 answers
73k 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 ...
Joshua Snider's user avatar
11 votes
1 answer
8k 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 ...
F'x's user avatar
  • 38.9k
10 votes
6 answers
82k 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 ...
Rich's user avatar
  • 203
9 votes
7 answers
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 ...
user avatar
7 votes
6 answers
3k 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 ...
Jeremy Thompson's user avatar
7 votes
5 answers
49k 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 ...
Mixo Lydian's user avatar