“Mind Your Words”: 25 Boomer Quotes the New Generation Finds Utterly Inappropriate

We often use phrases with no knowledge of their origins. Some of these origins are offensive or insensitive to a group of people or a whole cultural community. It is always better to mind your words and think before you speak. These 25 quotes are terms or phrases that many individuals from the newer generations find utterly inappropriate:

Basket Case

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People often use the phrase “basket case” to refer to someone considered a social outcast. However, this phrase has a darker history of origin, which could be very uncompassionate to some people. The phrase was a WWI slang used to refer to soldiers who had been seriously ill and had to be transported using a basket. 

Sold down the river

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The phrase “sold down the river” is generally used to mean that someone has betrayed you. The origin of this phrase means something far worse and is definitely inappropriate to use in modern times. The phrase is derived from America’s history of slavery, where enslaved people were often “sold down the Mississippi or Ohio rivers” in harsh conditions as a form of punishment.

Hysterical

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In today’s world, the word “hysterical” is considered inappropriate to call someone, especially a woman. The word is derived from a Greek word to mean “uterus” and is often used to describe an emotional woman. It also connotes that women are naturally born crazy as opposed to men.

The word is a heavily sexist stereotype that many women, especially those from newer generations, find very offensive.

Elderly 

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Like many other terms that may be considered normal to use, the word “elderly” has come to be considered inappropriate by many because of the word’s ageist connotations. Although many use the word to refer to seniors, the word now invites some discrimination toward older individuals. In addition to the discrimination, the word is associated with negative stereotypes like sickness and the inability to perform tasks. Therefore, using less offensive words when referring to a senior individual is better. 

Sex Change

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The phrase “sex change” emphasizes the surgical aspect of the transitioning process when many more critical factors contribute to how an individual identifies themselves. This phrase must not be replaced with more accepting phrases or words to avoid coming across as offensive and outdated and not to offend anyone. 

Ghetto or Inner City

Panama
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“Ghetto” and “inner city” describe places where people are typically viewed as living in less refined areas. These areas are also judged by many to be more dangerous than the city. Although they are already inappropriate words to describe someone’s origin, they also have a negative history in Europe during the Holocaust, referring to Jewish settlements in Italy. These words also shed a negative light on the stereotype that follows individuals from lower socio-economic statuses and their areas.

Grandfathered in

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Historically, the phrase “grandfathered in” referred to a clause that stopped Black Americans from voting by limiting the eligibility to vote only to those with ancestors who could already vote. The phrase refers to a person or business exempt from new rules and continues to operate as they have been. Seeing the historical inappropriateness of the phrase, it is evident why many find the phrase offensive to use.

Spaz 

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The stigma that stems from “spaz” is its association with a disease called cerebral palsy which was once called spastic paralysis. Many people find this word rude and inappropriate to use. Individuals, especially from the new generation, view this word as a derogatory word and must, therefore, never be used to describe someone.

Spinster 

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Many years ago, “spinster” refers to someone who spun yarn or thread for a living. However, in modern times, this word refers to unmarried women. In many ways, this word is viewed as a sexist term for unmarried women because of the different connotations that the word carries. Spinsters are regarded as belonging to the lower class, someone who has been unable to find someone to wed and must provide for themselves. 

Spirit Animal

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The phrase “spirit animal” refers to something someone relates to or feels a deep love or connection to, whether animate or inanimate. However, this is another inappropriate phrase to use as it has the potential to offend the belief systems that many cultures have. In some cultures, the phrase refers to a spirit that guides or protects a person on a journey. This spirit usually takes the form of an animal that shares or embodies the same characteristics as the person it guards or protects. 

Insane 

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The term “insane” often refers to an individual who may exhibit some mental illness. With mental health and seeking treatment for mental health becoming more significant concerns among the new generations, words like “insane” are viewed as inappropriate as they perpetuate the negative stereotypes associated with individuals suffering various forms of mental illnesses. Words like this should always be avoided as it makes it more difficult for people to seek the help they require regarding their mental health.

Non-white

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When “non-white” is used, it perpetuates the idea that whiteness is a default identity. The phrase carries negative connotations that make it seem like people of color don’t belong or are less than those who are white. It is obvious why this is a problematic phrase to refer to someone and how it can be highly inappropriate to use, no matter which generation you belong to. 

Crippled 

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Dating back thousands of years ago, the word “crippled” was used to refer to someone who was partially disabled or unable to move their limbs. This word is used colloquially to describe a situation in which one feels impaired or weakened. However, because of the ableist and offensive connotations that the word carries, it is viewed as inappropriate by many.  

Tone deaf

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“Tone deaf” is a common phrase used to describe someone unable to distinguish musical pitch. It is also used as a metaphor to refer to someone who is insensitive to situations or certain matters. However, many may not realize that the term could be very offensive to someone with hearing impairments and highly inappropriate to use in casual conversation.

Dumb 

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“Dumb” is a term that generally describes a person who shows a lack of intelligence. However, the term was once used to describe someone who could not speak because of a physical condition. The word can easily be construed as very offensive and inappropriate. Other ways may be more appropriate to describe someone lacking intelligence without offending individuals who have a disability. 

First-world problem

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The phrase “first-world problem” refers to problems faced by individuals residing in countries considered to be more privileged or wealthy. This phrase suggests that there are countries that are lesser than these countries, referring to countries that are developing nations or lower-income nations.  

 Gypped or Gypsy

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Gypped is a term to describe someone who has been defrauded or swindled of something. It is a word that is commonly heard among individuals from all over the world. However, the word is also quite problematic because it has been used as a derogatory slur derived from the word “gypsy .”The slur is against Roma, who historically journeyed from one place to another all over Europe. The word also perpetuates the stereotype that Roma are lower class, have no maturity or culture, and are considered foreigners everywhere they go. 

Lowest on the totem pole

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This is a phrase that was used to explain a person’s place in the pecking order to refer to someone who is not important. However, totem poles are sacred items to many cultures across the world. This phrase is culturally appropriating the totem pole and is highly offensive. It became commonly known later that some cultures view the bottom of the totem pole as the most impressive and most revered. The cultural significance of the totem pole makes this phrase inappropriate to use.

Rule of thumb

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The phrase “rule of thumb” usually refers to a broadly or widely accurate guide or principle based on practice rather than theory. To those who are more aware of the origins of this phrase, using the phrase can be considered highly inappropriate. It is believed that the phrase originates from an English law from the 17th century that allowed men to assault their wives with sticks as long as the sticks were not wider than their thumb.

Peanut gallery

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“Peanut gallery” is a phrase that is generally used to describe harsh critics who are usually known to have little knowledge or facts about a situation. The phrase was first used many years ago to refer to a section in a theatre regarded as the worst seats in the whole theatre and where Black people were generally forced to sit. The origins of this phrase make it entirely inappropriate to use in modern times, as many find it highly offensive.

Off The Reservation

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Back in the 19th century, the government of America forcibly removed Native Americans from their land and sent them to live in reservations that were specifically designated for them. The phrase “off the reservation” was used among government officials to report on whether the displaced Native Americans complied with their orders. Now, the phrase is used to refer to deviations from what is customary or expected. The historical meaning behind the phrase makes it easy to see why it is inappropriate to use today.

Eenie Meenie Miney Mo

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This phrase is part of a common children’s rhyme that is sung or recited to make a random selection of something. However, it may not be known to many that during the early days of slavery in the United States of America, the song was sung in a version with a racial slur. The lyrics have since been changed to a version with no offensive slurs; however, many find the song entirely inappropriate to sing or teach children given its history.

Long Time, No See

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Many people use this phrase worldwide to mean that they haven’t seen someone in a while. There are two credible theories about where this phrase originates. One is that it was a phrase picked up from Chinese people who spoke a form of pidgin English. The other is that the phrase was used by Native Americans who spoke English. Both origins show that native English speakers first used the phrase to mimic individuals who spoke different languages. Therefore, it is inappropriate to use today.

Hip Hip Hooray!

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The phrase “hip hip hooray” is used by many people across the globe as a congratulatory cheer. It is believed that the cheer originated in the 19th century when it started with “Hep-Hep,” used as an anti-Semitic chant. It was a rallying chant to attack Jewish people in and around Germany. 

Uppity

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“Uppity” is a word which has more neutral origins but became a racist term as time passed. It became used to describe Black people who had violated their expectations of deference, or to people who don’t know their place. In modern times, “uppity” describes someone arrogant or self-important. But, the history of the term and how it was used in the past make it an inappropriate word in all contexts. 

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