When it comes to using certain words to assert certain meanings or describe certain situations, we all partake in it. However, when these words are inaccurately adopted, and more so borrowed from a minority, they automatically place a stigma on this minority. As understandable as it is why it’s easier to turn to such words to paint a certain picture, their usage taints this very picture. For these reasons, we must be mindful of the meanings behind the descriptions we use, and when they’re inaccurate or pertain to a sensitive topic. It is crucial that we use the accurate term instead of the unnecessarily hurtful one. Here are eight common words some people use that have completely different meanings.
As often as the words psychopath and sociopath are used to describe someone who is a loner, strange, or keeps to themselves, it is just as often wrong. A psychopath means someone who has no conscience, who feel little to no remorse when doing immoral acts such as stealing money, or in extreme cases, killing someone. A sociopath, similar to a psychopath, is someone with a personality disorder as well who unlike the psychopath, is not born that way but instead, made into one. Even psychiatrists abstain from using these terms as they are very complicated and hard to assert. For those reasons, they should never be used in a reckless context.
The R-word is used often to describe someone “stupid.” Retarded means someone who has a less developed physical, mental, and/or social development. Even now, due to its many negative connotations, people pertain less towards it to describe the mental disability. So to use it to explain someone’s “stupidity” is to be insensitive towards people who had no choice into being born with a disability in the first place.
Psycho originates from psychosis. Psychosis is a term to describe when its sufferer experiences reality in a different way to other people. However, over the years, it has evolved to insinuate someone’s “insanity,” and this is inaccurate and shows no concern to the illness itself.
A whore is a prostitute, someone who engages in sexual intercourse for pay. It does not mean someone who is “easy,” “promiscuous,” or even “slutty.” Again and again, it is never okay to mesh together two words whose meanings are completely different, especially when one of them fails to acknowledge the minority targeted at hand.
When someone is introverted, antisocial, or has trouble getting a simple task done, a lot of people accuse them of being “autistic.” Depending on the person’s level of ignorance, the descriptions insinuated vary from being rigid to being quiet. None of these pertain to autism nor relate to it. Being autistic can be an extremely challenging experience and can and has at times been marked with extraordinary levels of intelligence. Outside of this, it is impervious to the pain of others, and an insult to those who suffer from autism by giving a negative connotation to the mental illness.
“The weather is so bipolar!” We all know this one, and it means “up and down.” While bipolar disorder is marked by emotional and mental fluctuations, this is not what the illness is or looks like. It is unfair and thoughtless to heedlessly use the word, irrespective of what it actually means, especially when those who suffer from it go through experiences way beyond an abrupt change in mood.
This is one of the most common inaccurate descriptions used. Often to elicit something being lame, some people refer to it as “gay.” Even in toxic masculinity contexts, we refer to it as not being “man” enough. To be gay is to be attracted to someone of the same gender and also means to be light-hearted and cheerful. Neither one of these descriptions are representative of the word’s meaning.