‘That’s So Ghetto’ And 26 Other F*cked Up Phrases We Need To Stop Using

Nancy McClure
Nancy McClure

1. “That’s so ghetto.”

“Ghetto.” Is not. An adjective. A ghetto is a slum—a place where minority groups are relegated to live. To say that something you deem low-class/trashily flashy is “ghetto” is to talk out of your goddamn ass.

2. “That’s so gay.”

It’s 2015, y’all, and it’s officially no longer chic to be a homophobe. “Gay” is not a synonym for “stupid” or “ridiculous.” If you disagree, you’re stupid and ridiculous.

3. “…No homo.”

And if you feel compelled to use this disclaimer after you say something suggestively “homosexual,” my guess is that you are, in fact, a closeted homosexual.

4. “He’s so butthurt.”

One more #fortheboys. Butthurt = so bent out of shape that he might as well’ve just taken that joke up the ass. THE HORROR!

5. “No one likes an Indian giver.”

Riiiiight, because it was *The Indians* who ripped off white people by tactlessly retracting their gift of land. I always forget how that story goes, fml.

5. “Don’t be such a pussy.”

I know, I know—unlike very strong, very hard penises, pussies aren’t built to endure the pain of childbirth, so it makes total sense that we equate them with weakness.

7. “Man up.”

Same principle. As comedian Sheng Wang brilliantly quipped, “Why do do people say ‘grow some balls?’ Balls are weak and sensitive. If you want to be tough, grow a vagina. Those things can take a pounding.” In other words, tenacity, courage, discipline, and grit do not belong to “man.”

8. “He’s a real son of a bitch.”

Ah yes, if he’s a raging asshole, it’s obviously because his evil (probably whorish) shrew of a mother made him that way.

9. “You throw like a girl.”

Thank you! I kick soccer balls like the U.S. Women’s National Team, too!

10. “That’s so retarded.”

Enough. You sound hateful, stupid, and terribly unoriginal.

11. “Go fuck yourself.”

Cuz what’s more vile/upsetting/damaging/taboo than masturbation, right?

12. “I’m so OCD about that.”

Real people suffer from real mental illnesses, of which OCD is one. Don’t reduce it or appropriate it to detail how entirely impressive it is that you *must* make your bed every morning.

13. “He’s wearing a wife beater.”

“There’s a piece of clothing in our culture affectionately nicknamed after beating the crap out of your wife, and for some reason, this is offensive to nobody.” —Louis C.K.

14. “[Insert sports team] got raped last night.”

Tell me I’m over-sensitive/dramatic/“politically correct” when I rant about the sore reality of rape culture/a society that methodically desensitizes us to the gravity of sexual violence through images and words, and then tell me how often you flippantly use “rape” as metaphor.

15. “Quiet from the peanut gallery!”

Unfamiliar with the seriously racist/classist history of this ostensibly innocent phrase? Allow me to enlighten you: during the 1800s, “peanut galleries”—interchangeable, then, with “nigger galleries”—referred to the cheapest seats in the back/upper balconies of vaudeville theaters, where the under-educated, overly-vocal (Black) patrons sat.

16. “He sold me down the river.”

Cheating/betrayal sucks, but…did he? Did he really “sell you down the [Mississippi] river” like American slave-owners did their misbehaving human chattel?

17. “Eenie, meenie, miney, moe…”

Even as a kid, I wondered why I would ever be tryna catch a tiger by his toe…makes no sense, u def can’t catch a tiger by his toe, and even if u did, I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t be the one hollerin’. Turns out my confusion was well-founded; this sweet little nursery rhyme evolved from a violently racist version of the same jingle, which was used in the chorus of Bert Fitzgibbon’s 1906 song, “Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Mo:”

Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Mo,
Catch a nigger by his toe,
If he won’t work then let him go;
Skidum, skidee, skidoo.

18. “She’s so uppity.”

Remember a few years back when Rush Limbaugh got hella heat for accusing Michelle Obama of “uppity-ism?” That’s because, back in the day, racist white southerners designated “uppity” to describe Black people who who didn’t know their place.

19. “She was in hysterics.”

In the mid-19th-century, a really cool physician named George Taylor posited that one in four women suffured from “female hysteria,” an entirely bullshit, misogynistic medical diagnosis given to women who were, you know, nervous, sexually hungry, irritable, crazy bitches. Almost two centuries later, we still haven’t busted the myth of the “hysterical woman.”

20. “6 dollars for a latte? What a gyp.”

Hopefully, you know that “gypsy” is a super reductive term widely regarded as a racial slur, as it was historically (incorrectly) used to disparage Romani people, an ethnic group who got a bad rap for swindling white Europeans when they arrived on the continent. To “gyp” someone, then, is to cheat them like a filthy Indian subcontinental.

21. “I’m actually so poor right now.”

Mmmmm, are you though? Not being able to afford a $50 dinner in the wake of your most recent Rag & Bone shopping spree isn’t exactly representative of actual poverty, babe.

22. “That sucks.”

If it’s so miserable that it might as well be sucking a penis, it must be really, really fucking miserable. Yikes.

23. “What a little bugger!”

Translation: What a little Bulgarian homosexual! Yup…“bugger” evolved from “Bulgarus,” a name given in the 11th century to a sect of Bulgarian heretics. “Bugger,” then, was appropriated as slang to diss other apostates involved in damnable practices, particularly sodomy. To this day, the term is often used in Britain to off-handedly disparage gay sex.

24. “Don’t run amok.”

Amok” derives from mengamuk, which means “rampage” in Malay/Indonesian. When we incorporated this word into English…surprise! It held seriously racist connotations in that Malaysian people specifically were thought to be wild/riotous. In the 1770s, British ship caption James Cook wrote on the savage Malaysians—according to him, they were a violent, reckless, murderous, feverish people. His description stuck.

25. “Ugh, he’s so anal.”

Fucked up Father Freud taught us that the anal stage proceeds the oral/infant stage of early-childhood development, when kids start seeking anal stimulation (i.e. when they’re tryna get toilet-trained), displaying a stubborn need for oral and control, such that an older person who displays these characteristics is anal-retentive (or “anal” for short). The association with gay men here isn’t too hard to decipher.

26. “What a hooligan.”

The Oxford Online Dictionary surmises that “hooligan” hails from Hooligan, “the surname of a fictional rowdy Irish family in a music-hall song of the 1890s.” A “hooligan,” then, traditionally refers to a noisy, reckless Irishman.

27. “That guy is a barbarian.”

Barbarian” = barbarinus in Medieval Latin/barbaros in Greek, meaning “foreign, strange, ignorant.” After the Persian Wars, the Romans applied barboroi to lesser, savage peoples lacking Greek/Roman accomplishments. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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