Sometimes, words just slip out before we can really think if they are going to harm or offend someone.

However, it’s important to become more aware of words and phrases that can offend someone, and then work towards not using them.

Here are a few offensive phrases to keep out of your vocabulary:

“That’s so gay.”

Last April, Duke University started a campaign called “You Don’t Say” to target offensive phrases used on campus. A couple of their posters read: “I don’t say ‘that’s so gay’ because the words gay and stupid are not interchangeable,” and “I don’t say ‘no homo’ because it means that showing any affection towards someone of the same sex is inherently bad.” The use of anti-LGBT language relates directly related to the bullying and harassment of LGBT students.

“That’s retarded.”

Take time to watch this thirty second YouTube clip on why it’s not acceptable to use the R-word. As stated by Jane Lynch in the clip, the R-word is the same as every other minority slur. It’s offensive, hurtful, and derogatory to a whole group of people. All people were created equal, are valuable, and deserve to be spoken about in respectful, loving ways.

Phrases that have to do with a person’s size.

Saying “that girl needs a cheeseburger” to a girl who is thin isn’t a compliment. Saying “you have such a beautiful face” or “should you really be eating that?” isn’t going to help your friend. Sizeism is real; people are looked down on based solely on size. It’s not your place to give out unwarranted health advice. You don’t know what the other person is going through: they could be happy with their size, they might struggle with weight gain even though they eat healthy and exercise, or maybe they struggle with anorexia. Your comments on their looks could be damaging.

Sexist phrases.

Phrases like “grow a pair” and “man up” should be cut out of your vocabulary. When did doing something “like a girl” become an insult? Always used their 2015 Super Bowl commercial to shed light on this question. Making fun of someone because of their sex isn’t acceptable. Let your children grow up in a world where they aren’t ashamed to be a girl or a boy. What matters is that they are doing what they love, being who they are, regardless of their sex.

Racial or religious slurs and/or other offensive phrases for groups of people.

Sentences like “oh, you’re so pretty for a black girl,” “do you speak good English?,” or “she has a Jew nose” aren’t compliments. Some phrases might be unintentional and/or said in a joking manner, but that doesn’t mean that those words don’t have lasting negative effects.

If someone says something that you find offensive, kindly tell them why it bothers you. It’s possible that they didn’t know their words were offensive and will be happy that you let them know.

What other phrases do you wish people would stop saying? Let us know in our comments section. If you’d like to set up a time to meet up with Reka, you can contact her by phone at 402-881-8125, by email at, or via Twitter or Facebook.

photo credit: See No… Speak No… Hear No Evil. via photopin (license)