Pejorative

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A pejorative (also called a derogatory term,[1] derogative term, a term of abuse, or a term of disparagement) is a word or grammatical form expressing a low opinion of someone or something, or showing a lack of respect for someone or something.[2] It is also used as a criticism, hostility, disregard and/or disrespect. A term can be regarded as pejorative in some social or cultural groups but not in others. Sometimes, a term may begin as a pejorative and eventually be adopted in a non-pejorative sense (or vice versa) in some or all contexts.

Name slurs can also involve an insulting or disparaging innuendo,[3] rather than being a direct pejorative. In some cases, a person's name can be redefined with an unpleasant or insulting meaning, or applied to a group of people considered by the majority to be inferior or lower in social class, as a group label with a disparaging meaning. Also, an ethnic slur or racial slur can be pejorative and to imply people of those groups are inferior or deficient.

Etymology[edit]

According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, the word pejorative is derived from a Late Latin past participle stem of peiorare meaning to "make worse".[4]

Melioration of pejoratives[edit]

When a term begins as pejorative and eventually is adopted in a non-pejorative sense this is called "melioration" in historical linguistics. It may also be called amelioration, reclaiming, or semantic change.[5] Some examples of melioration are "punk" or "dude".

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "Definition of derogatory". Merriam Webster. Retrieved 2 May 2015. 
  2. ^ "Pejorative | Define Pejorative at Dictionary.com". Dictionary.reference.com. Retrieved 2012-04-25. 
  3. ^ "Slur - Definition and More from the Free Merriam-Webster Dictionary". Merriam-webster.com. Retrieved 2012-04-25. 
  4. ^ "Pejorative (adj.)". Online Etymology Dictionary. 
  5. ^ Croom, Adam M. (May 2011). "Slurs". Language Sciences (Elsevier) 33 (3): 343–358. doi:10.1016/j.langsci.2010.11.005. 

Further reading[edit]