Page semi-protected

List of disability-related terms with negative connotations

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

The following is a list of terms, used to describe disabilities or people with disabilities, which may carry negative connotations or be offensive to people with or without disabilities.

Some people consider it best to use person-first language, for example "a person with a disability" rather than "a disabled person."[1] However identity-first language, as in "autistic person" or "Deaf person", is preferred by many people and organizations.[2]

There is disagreement as to what causes harm.[citation needed] Views vary with geography and culture, over time, and among individuals. Many terms that some people view as harmful are not viewed as hurtful by others, and even where some people are hurt by certain terms, others may be hurt by the replacement of such terms with what they consider to be euphemisms (e.g., "differently abled" or "special needs"). Some people believe that terms should be avoided if they might hurt people; others hold the listener responsible for misinterpreting terms used without harmful intent. For example, crazy should be avoided in describing persons or their behaviors, but is less likely to cause offense if used as an intensifier as in "crazy speed".[3]

For some terms, the grammar structure of their use determine if they are harmful. The person-first stance advocates for saying "people with disabilities" instead of "the disabled" or "a person who is deaf" instead of "a deaf person".[4][5][6] However, some advocate against this, saying it reflects a medical model of disability whereas "disabled person" is more appropriate and reflects the social model of disability.[7] On the other hand, there is also a grammar structure called identity-first language that construes disability as a function of social and political experiences occurring within a world designed largely for nondisabled people.[8]










  • Imbecile was the diagnostic term, used in the early 1900s, for people with IQ scores between 30 and 50.[39] It is no longer used professionally.[5] Before to the IQ test was developed in 1905, "imbecile" was also commonly used as a casual insult towards anyone perceived as incompetent at doing something.[39]
  • Incapacitated[5]
  • Idiot was the diagnostic term used for people with IQ scores under 30 when the IQ test was first developed in the early 1900s.[39][40] It is also no longer used professionally. Before the IQ test was developed in 1905, "idiot" was also commonly used as a casual insult towards anyone perceived as incompetent at doing something.[39]
  • Inmate (when referring to a psychiatric admission)[11]
  • Insane[24]
  • Inspirational[41] or inspiring, when used about somebody doing a very ordinary activity (inspirational porn). Based on pity.
  • Invalid[5][15]





  • Narc, narcissist[12] this does not mean the same as abuser[45]
  • Nut, nuts, or nutter, nut house, etc.[22][24]









  • "Yuppie flu" used as a pejorative term for chronic fatigue syndrome. This originated from the media stereotype of people with CFS as ambitious, young, and affluent, and not have a genuine illness, neither of which is an accurate portrayal.[68]

External links

  • Disability etiquette - Tips On Interacting With People With Disabilities - United Spinal Association
  • Inclusive language: words to use when writing about disability - Office for Disability Issues and Department for Work and Pensions (UK)
  • "Advice for Staff - Disability etiquette: Appropriate language and behaviour". Heriot-Watt University. Archived from the original on 12 November 2007.
  • List of terms to avoid when writing about disability - National Center on Disability and Journalism
  • Research and Training Center on Independent Living, University of Kansas, Guidelines: How to Write about People with Disabilities (9th edition)
  • Nović, Sara (30 March 2021). "The harmful ableist language you unknowingly use". BBC Worklife.


  1. ^ a b "Inclusive language: words to use and avoid when writing about disability". 2018. Retrieved 2020-06-10.
  2. ^ Haller, Beth (7 January 2016). "Journalists should learn to carefully traverse a variety of disability terminology | National Center on Disability and Journalism". Retrieved 2020-08-30.
  3. ^ Gold, Jessica (November 27, 2019). "No, You Shouldn't Call Someone 'Crazy.' But Do We Have to Ban the Word Entirely?".
  4. ^ Vaughan, C. Edwin (March 2009). "People-First Language: An Unholy Crusade". Retrieved 24 January 2014.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y "Resource on Person-First Language - The Language Used to Describe Individuals With Disabilities". American Speech–Language–Hearing Association. December 1992. Archived from the original on 11 May 2015. Retrieved 24 January 2014.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Disability etiquette - Tips On Interacting With People With Disabilities" (PDF). United Spinal Association. 2008. Retrieved 24 January 2014.
  7. ^ Egan, Lisa (9 November 2012). "I'm Not A "Person With a Disability": I'm a Disabled Person". XoJane. Retrieved 24 January 2014.
  8. ^ Dunn, Dana S.; Andrews, Erin E. (2015). "Person-first and identity-first language: Developing psychologists' cultural competence using disability language". American Psychologist. 70 (3): 255–264. doi:10.1037/a0038636. PMID 25642702.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Terms to Avoid When Writing About Disability | National Center on Disability and Journalism". September 2015. Retrieved 2020-06-09.
  10. ^ a b c "Words with Dignity" (PDF). Paraquad. Retrieved 27 August 2020.
  11. ^ a b c d Kanigel, Rachele (2019-01-14). The Diversity Style Guide. John Wiley & Sons. pp. 242–243. ISBN 978-1-119-05507-5.
  12. ^ a b Mollon, Anna (2015). "The Disability Drive" (PDF). Retrieved 10 June 2020.
  13. ^ Kent, Tamsyn (6 November 2009). "Has 'autism' become a term of abuse?". BBC News. Retrieved 30 September 2015.
  14. ^ a b c d e f Brown, Lydia XZ. "Ableist words and terms to avoid" (PDF). Disability Resource Center | University of Arizona.
  15. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "ENC1101 First-year Composition - Guidelines for Avoiding Ableist Language". Archived from the original on 16 September 2011. Retrieved 24 January 2014.
  16. ^ a b c d e f g h "Advice for Staff - Disability Etiquette - Appropriate Language and Behaviour". Student Support and Accommodation. Heriot-Watt University. Archived from the original on 2 February 2014. Retrieved 24 January 2014.
  17. ^ Jernigan, Kenneth (March 2009). "The Pitfalls of Political Correctness: Euphemisms Excoriated". National Federation of the Blind.
  18. ^ Hallowell, Brooke (2016-02-15). Aphasia and Other Acquired Neurogenic Language Disorders: A Guide for Clinical Excellence. Plural Publishing. p. 38. ISBN 978-1-59756-955-2.
  19. ^ a b c d e f g "Guidelines Brochure HTML". Research & Training Center on Independent Living. 2016-01-21. Retrieved 2020-08-28.
  20. ^ a b c d "The Transcontinental Disability Choir: What is Ableist Language and Why Should You Care?". 11 November 2009. Retrieved 24 January 2014.
  21. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Disability Access Services Blog - Ableism and Language". 31 January 2012. Retrieved 24 January 2014.
  22. ^ a b c d e Brown, Lydia (16 June 2013). "Ableist Language". Retrieved 28 September 2013.
  23. ^ Clare, Eli. "Thinking about the word crip". Retrieved 18 January 2014.
  24. ^ a b c d e f g Steele, David (6 September 2012). "Crazy talk: The language of mental illness stigma". The Guardian. Retrieved 19 September 2016.
  25. ^ Lyttkens, C. Hampus. "Time to Disable DALYs? On the Use of Disability-Adjusted Life Years in Health Policy." The European Journal of Health Economics 4, no. 3 (2003): 195-202. Accessed 28-08-2020. [1].
  26. ^ Brown, Lydia. "Identity First Language". Autistic Self Advocacy Network.
  27. ^ Haller, Beth. "Journalists should learn to carefully traverse a variety of disability terminology". National Center on Disability and Journalism.
  28. ^ Sinclair, Jim. "Why I dislike Person First language". Anatomy, the Critical Journal of Interdisciplinary Autism Studies.
  29. ^ Escalante, Alison. "Researchers Doubt That Certain Mental Disorders Are Disorders At All". Forbes. Retrieved 2020-08-28.
  30. ^ Bryan, Chloe (September 22, 2017). "What is a 'dotard,' anyway?". Mashable. Retrieved March 8, 2018. At its core, "dotard" makes a judgement about a person's mental health, which is not a particularly wise thing to be doing to your peers as you dance through life.
  31. ^ "Accessibility & Disability Etiquette - Accessibility".
  32. ^ "Disability Language Style Guide | National Center on Disability and Journalism". Retrieved 2020-08-28.
  33. ^ Dalzell, Tom; Victor, Terry, eds. (26 June 2015). "Flid". The New Partridge Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English. Routledge. p. 7390. ISBN 978-1-317-37251-6.
  34. ^ Quackenbush, Nicole (2008). Bodies in Culture, Culture in Bodies: Disability Narratives and a Rhetoric of Resistance. Ann Arbor, MI: ProQuest LLC. pp. 118–127.
  35. ^ "Community and Culture – Frequently Asked Questions". National Association of the Deaf. Retrieved 2020-09-13.
  36. ^ "Disability Terminology Chart" (PDF). California Courts. Retrieved 3 September 2020.
  37. ^ a b National Youth Leadership Network. "Respectful Disability Language: Here's What's Up!" (PDF). Association of University Centers on Disabilities. Retrieved 28 October 2020.
  38. ^ Cowley, Gina. "Female Hysteria". BellaOnline. Retrieved 24 January 2014.
  39. ^ a b c d Rapley, Mark (2004), The Social Construction of Intellectual Disability, Cambridge University Press, p. 32, ISBN 978-0-521-00529-6.
  40. ^ Cruz, Isagani A.; Quaison, Camilo D. (2003), Correct Choice of Words' : English Grammar Series for Filipino Lawyers (2003 ed.), Rex Bookstore, Inc., pp. 444–445, ISBN 978-971-23-3686-7.
  41. ^ Ellis, Katie; Kent, Mike (2016-11-10). Disability and Social Media: Global Perspectives. Taylor & Francis. p. 42. ISBN 978-1-317-15028-2.
  42. ^ Baynton, Douglas C. (2005). "Defectives in the Land: Disability and American Immigration Policy, 1882-1924". Journal of American Ethnic History. 24 (3): 31–44. ISSN 0278-5927. JSTOR 27501596.
  43. ^ Kenber, Billy. "Ricky Gervais: I was wrong about 'mong'". ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 2020-07-19.
  44. ^ Hargrave, Matt (2015-06-23). Theatres of Learning Disability: Good, Bad, or Plain Ugly?. Springer. p. 254. ISBN 978-1-137-50439-5.
  45. ^ Contributor, Melody Wilding (November 2018). "I'm a professor of human behavior, and I have some news for you about the 'narcissists' in your life". Business Insider. Retrieved 2020-06-10. {{cite web}}: |last= has generic name (help)
  46. ^ a b Gratton, Korina (4 December 2019). "LibGuides: Ableism: Ableist Language". Retrieved 2020-06-10.
  47. ^ Hodges, Rick. "The Rise and Fall of "Mentally Retarded" – Member Feature Stories". Medium. Retrieved 2018-10-12.
  48. ^ Andrews, Erin E. (2019-11-01). Disability as Diversity: Developing Cultural Competence. Oxford University Press. p. 76. ISBN 978-0-19-065232-6.
  49. ^ a b "What to do when your Child is Scatterbrained". Psychology Today. Retrieved 2020-09-05.
  50. ^ Penn, David L.; Nowlin-Drummond, Amy (2001). "Politically Correct Labels and Schizophrenia: A Rose by Any Other Name?". Schizophrenia Bulletin. 27 (2): 197–203. doi:10.1093/oxfordjournals.schbul.a006866. PMID 11354587.
  51. ^ Kelly, Jon; Winterman, Denise (10 October 2011). "OCD, bipolar, schizophrenic and the misuse of mental health terms". BBC News. Retrieved 24 January 2014.
  52. ^ " - Schizoid". Retrieved 24 January 2014.
  53. ^ "The Free Dictionary - Schizo". Retrieved 24 January 2014.
  54. ^ "Guidelines for Writing About People With Disabilities | ADA National Network". Retrieved 2020-08-28.
  55. ^ Cokley, Rebecca (2020-03-01). "Why "Special Needs" is _______". Medium. Retrieved 2020-08-28.
  56. ^ a b "deaf - Wiktionary". Retrieved 2020-08-28.
  57. ^ National Union of Journalists (UK). "Hacked Off". Retrieved 27 August 2020.
  58. ^ a b "Disability". Retrieved 2022-05-21.
  59. ^ " - Tard". Retrieved 24 January 2014.
  60. ^ Writing about Disabled People Guidelines for journalists from GLAD (Greater London Action on Disability), Accessed 27 August 2020
  61. ^ "Facts About Toxic People". Psych Central. 2021-11-15. Retrieved 2022-06-04.
  62. ^ Smith, Kathleen (2021-05-11). "Why Therapists Avoid Using the Word 'Toxic'". Forge. Retrieved 2022-06-04.
  63. ^ "The Toxicity Of Calling Everything 'Toxic'". Scary Mommy. Retrieved 2022-06-04.
  64. ^ Rose, Damon (2019-04-28). "Stop trying to 'heal' me". BBC News. Retrieved 2020-08-28.
  65. ^ "the definition of vegetable". Retrieved 2018-02-20.
  66. ^ Ipsos MORI (September 2016). "Attitudes to potentially offensive language and gestures on TV and radio" (PDF). Retrieved 3 November 2017.
  67. ^ Smith, Noel 'Razor' (2015). The Criminal Alphabet: An A-Z of Prison Slang. Penguin UK. p. 236. ISBN 9780141946832.
  68. ^ Frumkin, Howard; Packard, Randall M.; Brown, Peter G.; Ruth L. Berkelman (2004). Emerging illnesses and society: negotiating the public health agenda. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 978-0-8018-7942-5.