What You Said, What You Meant To Say
People use ableist language all the time and oftentimes don't even realize it. I, personally, am hurt when people use the word lame to talk about something they don't like - because that is me - I am lame (sometimes) and I am someone's reference point for something unlikeable.
Here are some of the more common disablist words that people tend to use. Think about the language that you use and how it work to reinforce negative views of disabled people and work to change it.
For a discussion about why I now use the term disablism rather than ableism, click here.
|What You Said||What You Meant to Say||Origin, and other tid-bits|
|Blind||Careless; ignorant; insensitive; oblivious; rash; thoughtless; unaware;
|Confined to a wheelchair||Wheelchair user.||This implies that wheelchairs
imprison people which is far from the truth. Wheelchairs help people get around and are libratory
rather than confining.
|Crazy||Batty; bizarre; busy; chaotic; erratic; intense; weird;
|Actually people who are described as crazy are usually people who deviate from social
norms, are marginalized and/or who see hear or experiences things others don't.
|Cretin||Obnoxious; clown; creep; loser||From the French meaning "dwarfed and
|Crip[ple]||Disabled; break; hurt; immobilize, incapacitate; sideline;
"Crip" has been reclaimed by some disabled people and is used with
Used by non-disabled people, it is offensive.
The word "cripple" as a verb,
|Crutch||Prop; need; support||Something you are dependant on and cannot get
by without. It has a negative connotation when used this way but crutches are not negative in the
lives of the people who use them.
|Deaf||Not listening; oblivious; obstinate; pigheaded; stubborn;
|Disable[ed]||Break; damage; destroy; disarm; hurt; impair; mar; ruin;
|To make unable to move or act, to render inoperative|
|Dumb||Bad; defective; foolish; inadequate; ineffective|
|Duh||Hello; as if; what?||Allegedly, this is the sound people with
intellectual disabilities make.
In game play, this is an advantage (i.e. spotting
Some people believe that this term was applied because people on the streets were
|Insane||Batty; bizarre; busy; chaotic; erratic; intense; weird; wild||The
origin of sane is healthy, so insane means unhealthy.
|Lame||Bad; boring; cheesy; faulty; inadequate; inefficient; in sufficient;
unconvincing; unpersuasive; unpleasing
|Derogatory term for physically disabled,
particularly referring to one's gait.
|Moron||Unintentional; haphazard; goofy; foolish||The psychological term
refers to one who has a mild intellectual disability.
From Greek for foolish.
Everyone is interdependent. Rugged individualism is just another way of saying that someone doesn't recognize their support network.
Negative term for someone who 'wants too much.'
|Nuts||Batty; bizarre; busy; chaotic; erratic; intense; weird;
|Psycho||Batty; bizarre; busy; chaotic; erratic; intense; weird; wild||Short
|Paralyze||Daze; debilitate; freeze; halt; incapacitate; numb; petrify;
|Retard[ed]||Ass; blockhead; dork; fool; loser; nerd||The origin is
slow, or late (tardy).
|Schizo||Scattered; all over the place||Short for schizophrenic.|
|Sick||Bad; disgusting; displeasing; revolting; gross; sadistic||Also, sick
is being used to mean something positive now.
|Spaz||all over the place; Batty; clumsy; everywhere at once; energetic; goofy;
hyper; inept; squirrelly
|From the word spastic or spasm.|
Thans to Cody for their tech skills on this page.