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The Hidden Meanings behind Seemingly Innocent Words

December 7, 2017

The variety of language that is audible in our hallways can range from innocuous to highly offensive. Most of the time, it’s only one or two words in the conversation that move the conversation along the spectrum of offense. Some of these terms may not seem objectionable, but that’s probably because you’re using them wrong. They have hidden meanings or their definitions are twisted to make them acceptable to use in everyday conversation. Some of the words are as listed below.

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Retard. The way people use this term is highly offensive. The medical definition for retard relates to mental retardation which means slow or limited in intellectual or emotional development. These people might have disorders such as autism or Down’s syndrome. So when you’re using the word retard as an insult, it is very insulting to those affected by mental retardation. However, the hidden meaning in the word that is not vulgar is a verb. When retard is used as a verb, it means to delay or hold back in terms of progress, development or accomplishment. To summarize, if your friend says something unintelligent, don’t snap back at them with, “Oh my God, you’re such a retard.”

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Another no-go is gay and all other terms with the same meaning. The way most people perceive this word is as a homosexual male or female; an individual who is romantically interested in someone of the same gender. Unless someone actually tells you that they are, in fact, homosexual, it should not be used to describe anyone. Certainly, like the word “retard,” it should not be thrown out as an insult. So, if you’re using the term, use it when it means to be lighthearted, carefree or happy or to describe an actual gay person.

This next one could be a shock to many people. The term dumb has a deep hidden meaning. Most people use it to describe someone who is not very smart, but in actuality, it also means unwilling or unable to speak. Speechless. Not unintelligent. When used in that way, it is perfectly fine. But, don’t use it as a way to describe someone who may not be on the same intellectual level as you.

In general, before you go around saying things about or to people, make sure you actually know what you’re saying and how it might affect someone.

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