Peter’s Articles: Better Words<

Better Words

Words matter. And word choices matter. This is essentially a glossary of words that are potentially hurtful, and options for alternatives. It is intended to be useful if you (or more likely me) are looking for either words that you might not have noticed are hurtful, or alternatives for words you now realise might be hurtful to some people. It does not imply that everyone will be hurt by these words, nor is it intended to force anyone to make any particular choice of using or not using words - you can make your own decision about what kindness or hurtfulness is important to you and for your audience.

A more complete list of ableist language is available here.

For brevity as a reference, this list is simply provided with a word and some alternatives. Some of these are relatively specific to programming.

  • blind: turning their back on; deliberately ignoring; neglect; overlook; indiscriminately; thoughtlessly; unquestioning
  • crazy/insane: ridiculous; absurd; wild; thrilling; exciting; unreal; unbelievable; surreal; silly
  • crippled/crippling/paralyzed: frozen by; overwhelming; stuck; incapacitating; taken aback; surprised
  • idiot/dumb: ignorant; dipshit; dense; uninformed
  • lame: boring; uninteresting; monotonous; weak; sad
  • psycho/psychopath: scary; out of control; selfish; self-centered; toxic; manipulative
  • spaz/spastic: clutzy; clumsy; forgetful; impulsive; reckless
  • tone-deaf: insensitive; tactless; careless; oblivious; obtuse; (willfully) ignorant
  • programming - blacklist/whitelist: deny/allow; reject/accept; block/safe (see also IETF)
  • programming - master/slave: primary/secondary; primary/replica; main/secondary; host/client; director/performer (see also IETF)