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Home --> Language --> Offensive Origins

Offensive Origins

Words and turns of phrase have flowed into the language through a variety of conduits, some less savory than others, resulting in a scattering of everyday words with truly horrifying pedigrees. Additionally, some terms have attracted specious explanations of their origins which paint them as irredeemably offensive when in fact they are perfectly innocuous.

Ratings Key

        Green bullet = true
        Red bullet = false
        Multiple status bullet = multiple truth values
        Yellow bullet = undetermined
        White bullet = unclassifiable veracity

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definition of our rating system.


Red bullet 'Picnic' comes from a shortening of 'pick a nigger.'

Red bullet 'Handicap' came from 'cap in hand,' referring to a disabled person's need to subsist through begging.

Red bullet The use of the word 'buck' as a slang term for "dollar" derives from a reference to black male slaves.

Red bullet Crowbars are so named because they were devices used to perform menial labor assigned to blacks.

Yellow bullet Jimmies (sprinkles used on ice cream) has a racist origin.

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