Stop Using the Word “Retard”

Stop Using the Word RetardHere’s a quick post to help the “Spread the Word to End the Word” Campaign (hat tip to my friend Jason Wert for bringing my attention to this):

Do yourself and the world a favor and stop using the word “retard.”


No questions. No excuses. Just stop.

Stop calling your friends “retards” or saying that your parents are “retarded” for being old and out-of-touch.

Quick confession: I used to use the words “retard,” “fag,” and “Jew” in a pejorative sense to put down my friends on a regular basis. But it was “okay,” because were “just joking.” Right?

Until someone overheard us and was actually offended. Until real people were hurt.

Then, it became real.

Then, we were the idiots.

If this is you, you just need to stop using words like this. No judgment or shame. Just stop using them. It’s okay, you didn’t know. But now you do. So, stop.

Because when people hear you talk like this, they form an opinion about you that I don’t think an educated, self-respecting person like you wants to be associated with.

No, it’s not impossible. These words were a part of my everyday vocabulary once, and I stopped using them. They used to instinctively come to mind. Now, I don’t even think about them. And when I hear, them, I shudder.

It wasn’t easy, but it wasn’t that hard, either.

The bottom line is this: If you look closely enough, people are following you. Someone is watching your every move. Maybe it’s a friend or a sibling or even one of your followers on social media. Someone is seeing what you’re about.

And when you open your mouth and words like “retard” come out, well, it makes you look dumb. And a bigot. And kind of a jerk.

That’s not what you want to be remembered for, right?

Make a decision to stop today. Please. This word affects people in ways that hurt far worse that you can imagine. There are so many more beautiful and wonderful-sounding words that could come out of your mouth than that stupid R-word.

“From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.” –James 3:10

Thanks, Jason, for bravely sharing your story of how the R-word has personally affected your family. I’m sorry for idiots like me who have caused you pain. I pray that those reading this will take note of the victims of their careless words and choose to change.

Time to ‘fess up. Do you use the R-word? Would you make a pledge to stop?

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If you still aren’t convinced, read some of these stories of heart-break and courage:

366 thoughts on “Stop Using the Word “Retard”

  1. “And when you open your mouth and words like “retard” come out, well, it makes you look dumb.”

    This sentence is the epitome of hypocrisy, considering you are using the term “dumb”. “Dumb” is a term for people who are verbally impaired, and before you guys say “dumb isn’t used to refer to people who can’t speak anymore”, let me tell you that the use of “Dumb and deaf” to refer to “unable to speak and unable to hear” is still in use, as with lame to refer to people with handicap. The Bible uses “dumb” and “lame” to refer to people with disabilities, yet nobody’s crying for it to be changed. I have family members with devastating dementia, yet I also hear the term “demented” used as an insult a whole lot.

    Am I saying that people with handicaps don’t deserve respect? No, they deserve our sensitivity and our patience, and not to be mocked. However, allowing certain abelist words while disallowing “retard” is essentially saying that people with learning impairment are more worthy of respect than others.

  2. perfect example of pc gone crazy… at the end of the day they are JUST WORDS regardless… and it’s the person the word bothers that has the problem… and besides most retards probably don’t even know they are defended becauuuussssseeee THEY ARE RETARDED… so it’s the parents of the retards that get offend….which is even more extreme PC by getting offended by proxy…. my brother is gay but it does not bother him if someone says cock loving flaming fairy queen butt pirate faggot and if it. did then it would be his problem… not the big mean monster that says mean bad so horrible awful words…

    1. I am sure that you know that Many Retarded people Do Know when people are talking not nicely to them. They, many of them, are Not that Slow that they are oblivious to everything going on around them. Some are Mildly retarded so they Do Understand when people are being mean. Maybe it Doesn’t bother your brother when people tease him. Remember, Not everyone may be as Secure as your brother is. I’m sure if you called someone a Retard, and they got upset and started to Cry—You’d probably Stop? People can’t go around worrying over every word they say, whether it will offend this or that person, but if you were to see a Real Slow person that you didn’t know, I’m sure that you wouldn’t go up to them and call them a Retard—Would you? Some people are just more sensitive than others. Not everyone is like your brother. He probably is very secure. Those JUST WORDS do hurt some people. If i were to say something, and I found out that I hurt them, I would apologize.

    2. You know whats retarded? I look up “why are retards so retarded” and all that comes up is why people are using the word retard wrong. It so retarded

    3. People that say such negative things about anyone, whether if they are mentally challanged, gay, of a different race, different religion, have some kind of issue themselves that need to be worked out. No one should be talked to in that manner, it is a former of abuse, mental abuse. Maybe the abuser is looking for power and can only find it in people that are different or weaker than him/her. There’s no need to be ugly to fellow human beings. You don’t think that hurts your brother? I think he is not telling you the trutH, IMO. Are you one of them calling him names? If so, maybe that is why he plays off the insults.

    4. Some people with intellectual disabilities are able to understand when someone is calling them a derogatory name and they take it as equally offensive to be called some other word in a derogatory way. I’m equally offended if someone calls me the “R-word”, stupid, special, or the new PC term intellectually disabled. The author should ask people who actually mean to use these words as derogatory towards someone else to stop making derogatory comments towards others regardless of the words they use. I’ve been perceived as intellectually disabled by people and even had someone who insulted me ask me what “us people” prefer to be called since they cannot call me a retard anymore. I think the PC movement may have even made things worse since the people who do intend to insult people for having an intellectual disability will simply come up with other words since their intention is to offend and they will not discontinue using the “R-word” because the “experts” are asking them to stop using it.

      1. The r word? The word is retarded, and it means to slow down.

        From Count of Monet Cristo:

        Franz, who had mutely interrogated the countess, and received from her a
        gracious smile in token that he would be welcome, sought not to retard
        the gratification of Albert’s eager impatience, but began at once the
        tour of the house, closely followed by Albert, who availed himself of
        the few minutes required to reach the opposite side of the theatre to
        settle the height and smoothness of his collar, and to arrange the
        lappets of his coat.

        Only idiots think it’s a derogatory word.

  3. There’s a difference between saying “retarded” in a derogatory way versus using it for it’s intended purpose. It is an old medical term, and when used as such, it should not be taken as derogatory. My brother is retarded, and I have no problem using the word to describe his condition. It’s the meaning behind the words you use that matter.

    1. Actually, its an old term meaning to slow down.

      For example, in the Count of Monte Cristo:

      Franz, who had mutely interrogated the countess, and received from her a
      gracious smile in token that he would be welcome, sought not to *retard *(
      the gratification of Albert’s eager impatience, but began at once the
      tour of the house, closely followed by Albert, who availed himself of
      the few minutes required to reach the opposite side of the theatre to
      settle the height and smoothness of his collar, and to arrange the
      lappets of his coat.

      1. Retard means to slow, for example from Count of Monte Cristo

        Franz, who had mutely interrogated the countess, and received from her a
        gracious smile in token that he would be welcome, sought not to retard
        the gratification of Albert’s eager impatience, but began at once the
        tour of the house, closely followed by Albert, who availed himself of
        the few minutes required to reach the opposite side of the theatre to
        settle the height and smoothness of his collar, and to arrange the
        lappets of his coat.

  4. Jeff, nice post. While I appreciate your tolerance of free speech, most of the replies count as spam, and are probably the same person posting with different aliases, hence the bad grammar. Also, I find Ted TheAtheist’s post sickening. He has the nerve to show his mug alongside that too. Maybe he needs to have a talk with other atheists like Penn Jillette who are working with charities here in Vegas such as Opportunity Village. It’s a thrift shop that mainly hires disabled employees. I am a devout christian and believe we do need God to be whole but at the same time I wouldn’t put all atheists on the same level. Lastly, I do believe there is a good point a few have made about using ‘dumb’ while chiding ‘retard’ but it makes you think about how words have evolved. ‘Punk’ originally meant a male prostitute, for instance.

  5. “I used to use the words “retard,” “fag,” and “Jew” in a pejorative sense to put down my friends on a regular basis.”

    Retard and fag are pejorative when referring to people no matter how they are used, but “Jew” is something else. Glad you stopped using them pejoratively, but even though you are now PC, you’re STILL A FUCKING BIGOT!

  6. Oh, and for everyone whining about free speech… you may have misunderstood, but the author is not *actually* the supreme dictator of the world and this post is not *actually* saying that the government is going to persecute you for calling someone a retard. Your precious rights aren’t being violated by someone asking you to make a minor change to your use of language to avoid causing unnecessary suffering … or even by saying that it reflects badly on you if you disagree

  7. Better yet, why don’t you stop referring to people with intellectual disabilities as retards?

    I’m pretty sure when I say retard, I mean a person of ordinary cognitive function behaving as if that function has been temporarily retarded.

    So it’s you, writer, who is continuing to insist that we keep calling the intellectually disabled retards, which is pretty messed up.

    Where’s all your hand wringing over idiot and moron? Exactly, those words stopped being applied to intellectually disabled people, they didn’t become swear words.

    Political correctness has retarded ordinary sense among humans.

  8. The word Retarded is part of what is commonly referred to as the “euphemism treadmill”. As other commenters have pointed out, the term was originally meant to replace words like “idiot”, “moron” and “imbecile”. Every new euphemism to describe intellectual deficiencies becomes a new pejorative term, because having an intellectual deficiency is perceived as a negative.

    The lesson to be learned: You can’t alter perception by sanitizing language. Calling a retarded person “special” isn’t going to improve their intellect, or the perception that retardation is a disability.

    If the goal of the author is to protect the feelings of retarded people, he and other SJW’s like him should refrain from teaching Retards that they should be hyper-sensitive about their retardation. SJW’s breed further weakness in a group of people already struggling.

    I have OCD. I don’t get offended whenever I hear people use the term “crazy” as a pejorative. Why would I? If someone sees that I am behaving in an unusual way, and they tease me saying, “What are you, crazy?” I tell them, “Actually, yeah. I have OCD.” In all my years on this earth, not one person has made fun of me once they realized I have OCD.

    I’m tired of listening to over-educated arts students spewing their cult-like post-modernist philosophies at the rest of us, as if we have an obligation to nurture everyone’s feelings. These people are way too soft, and they’re trying to make the rest of us as weak as they are. They have a victim-fetish, and it’s unhealthy.

    1. What you said reminded me of something else. The word OBESE for heavy people. I worked at a hospital for quite a few years. We had to take a short course over the computer on Obesity, as more people were coming in for weight loss surgical procedures. In the course these “Experts” were telling us that we should Not call heavy people Chubby, or Pleasantly plump. We were supposed to call them OBESE. I remember thinking that I would much rather be called plump, or even Heavy, than Obese. Obesity is a medical term, yet, many people have problems with the word Obese. I also thought, when I took the course, WHY do we Have to CALL them ANYTHING? When I took care of a heavy person, and I took care of plenty, some who were Huge. I didn’t come in and say, “Oh, You’re that OBESE patient.” I went into the room, introduced myself, if I didn’t know them, and I treated them like Anyone else. We may have used the word Obese in report, if that was their diagnosis, yet, it was said in a professional way. Sure, some people talked, outside the patient’s room, If they were really big. That should Not have been done because you never know if the patient might hear you, or a relative, or a person who had no business hearing. The main things is, people go on and on how we “Shouldn’t” say this, or that. People can just be way Too Touchy. And, again, we were told , in the computer course, that we should Not call people plump, or heavy. Every person is different. I just remember thinking that I would much rather be called plump than obese. And, why do they need to be CALLED Anything? Some patients may prefer to have the word obese used, but most Hate that word. And I have met some who Hate no matter what you say or do. You just can’t please everyone.

      1. Someday these same experts will ask people to stop using the word Obese and come up with another “less offensive” term to refer to people who are overweight.

    2. “As other commenters have pointed out, the term was originally meant to
      replace words like “idiot”, “moron” and “imbecile”. Every new euphemism
      to describe intellectual deficiencies becomes a new pejorative term,
      because having an intellectual deficiency is perceived as a”{

      False, it was originated as meaning to slow down.

      For example, this is from The Count of Monte Cristo:

      “Franz, who had mutely interrogated the countess, and received from her a
      gracious smile in token that he would be welcome, sought not to *retard*
      the gratification of Albert’s eager impatience, but began at once the
      tour of the house, closely followed by Albert, who availed himself of
      the few minutes required to reach the opposite side of the theatre to
      settle the height and smoothness of his collar, and to arrange the
      lappets of his coat.

  9. Okay, everyone’s talking about free speech. Yeah, we have free speech. I know we do. But guess what? Freedom of speech does not equal freedom to be an asshole. Yes, you are allowed to say whatever you want and you won’t be breaking the law, but there is a line between normal words and bullying. Calling someone names, or even using hurtful slang or slurs, such as “gay” for stupid, “retarded” for stupid, “tranny” when referring to a trans person, etc, is not acceptable and crosses that line.

  10. Hey you said idiot, that is offensive stop using it and you use the word “impossible” that offends me as well. Heck to make sure you stop offending others can you stop writing? do you get why telling people to stop using words is wrong in an open and free society?

  11. “Retarded” is a word now used to describe idiocy rather than a mental handicap (which has nothing to do with intellect.) As someone who has used the word “retarded” to describe things unintelligible in nature, I’m not saying it with the mentally handicapped in mind. Yes, it was once used to describe people with mental handicaps, but things change. The 21st century is full of new contexts and perspectives. Worry about people who genuinely go out of their way to hurt others, not those who use a collection of letters and phrases that so happen to hurt someone though they lack malicious intent.
    If I saw someone calling a person with a mental handicap with the obvious goal of hurting them, then I’d be mad. But Jesus Christ, this is a godawful pile of politically correct bullshit.

      1. Just look at all the very retarded people on the road that can’t drive at all these days. Enough said right there.

  12. As someone who has been called the R-word by classmates during my school days and currently at work, if someone were to sanitize their comments towards me by calling me “special”, intellectually disabled, stupid, or brain damaged I find it equally offensive. This may sound strange coming from someone who has been called the “R-word” by many but this PC stuff is BS and I’ve even had someone ask me what they are supposed to call “us people”. I don’t like having people perceive me with a disability and treat me anything less than a human being so it doesn’t make me feel any better that someone calls me a different word. I can care less if someone uses the “R-word” in everyday use to refer to someone who acted as an idiot. It also doesn’t make me feel any better when someone who dislikes me changes the word they call me to “special”, intellectually disabled, brain damaged, etc. Are PC folks eventually going to ask people to refrain from calling people “special” or any other words that might offend people who have a mental disability or are perceived to have a mental disability by others? Did the PC folks ask people with intellectual disabilities if they prefer to be called something else and if they take offense to people using the “R-word” in everyday conversation when they have no intentions of offending people with intellectual disabilities? Wouldn’t using the word stupid, intellectually disabled, dumb, etc be equally offensive?

  13. I really do not understand. If we use the word retarded to talk about people with learning delays, or with mental disabilities, then I can see how using it as a descriptor for something that is stupid or backward, would be very offensive. I can see how we would be wanting to reserve that word to talk about clinical mental or cognitive issues, and not use the word trivially. OR, if we were going to use the word trivially to mean stupid, then I can see how we would not want to use it to describe people. But I do not see how the present attitude about the word makes much sense.

    1. Medical science can use other words. Retard is a normal English word, and we are not giving it up, as users of this language.

  14. THe words “moron” and “idiot” were also used in medical terms to talk about people with mentla or cognitive delays. Are we going to now call them the m-word and the I- word? C’mon now.

    1. The word retard simply means slow, for example in a song, when it gets slowed down, the music has been retarded.

      1. Granted, the word does mean slow. But, it is, or was, used as a medical descriptor of mental slowness in particular. My point is that we seem to be killing any word that denotes mental delays, so eventually, we will not even be able to discuss the concept.

  15. We need to stop using all words that describe the disadvantaged. Calling people blind, dumb, autistic, challenged etc. is just as offensive. We should try to avoid speaking about these people at all, as acknowledging their existence offends them.

  16. I just saw a screen print of a person using company text messaging asking my daughter what her job title was. He says he just tells everyone that she works with “retards”. I was floored! He actually thinks like that as well as saying it over his family company mail network. People like this still live in the dark ages? I thought we were over this garbage.

  17. I used to live in a world where people were tough and didn’t snibble & whine over every perceived Injustice or something as equally stupid. When we fell down brushed ourselves are off and kept right on going. Today they’ll end up going to the emergency room over a splinter or my all time favorite, words. The word police have been busy. Why worry about losing our rights to free speech when the Nazi police will soon have us all lined up and in terror about saying the wrong thing for they could lose their job, careers & even family.
    Now would be the time for those of you overly sensitive, control freaks to put this article down or risk getting your senses set to overload.

    Retard. Yep I said retard and since the rule is you must be whatever politically incorrect word you use, mine is retard cuz I am one and proud to be one and you will not deprive me of using it. Using the N word and shortening words to just their initial is about as retarded as it gets. You know when you see the initial that you actually hear the entire word in your head.
    As a bona-fide and certified retard I take my power to me back. I will NOT be ashamed of who I am by letting others dictate what I should or should not say because frankly it’s none of their damn business. I will not be made to feel lesser than, because some goody two shoes has decided I should pretend I’m not a retard and maybe it’ll go away. Oh the family shame.
    If you easily butthurt and live in the good Ol U. S. of A. grow a mighty pair or cry at the injustice of being a sissy. Me? Well I have stage 4 glioblastoma brain cancer and I’ve had a craniotomy and I’m a retard. Now what?

    1. Now you just made yourself look like more of an ass than the aforementioned folks the writer was talking about. Congratulations.

      1. Censorship is alive and well. How about a book burning? I’m not allowed to use the ‘N’ because hundreds of years ago people we will never meet, oppressed a race of people, by the way every race from every part of the globe has at one time or another been oppressed and been enslaved & it’s still going on today but I digress. Anyways today we are told that only the ancestors may use the ‘N’ word & no other race is allowed even by pain of death. I am retarded. I am not handicapped. I hate that word. Handicapped. I’m handy but only to a point, then I’m capped. Any until you’re dying from brain caner and had a craniotomy you have no right to judge me or to even tell me what words I can say. It took me almost an hour to write this. I struggle daily to find the words I need but can’t remember. It’s getting more difficult to read as my eyesight diminished. Walking is wobbly at best. Talking out loud, forget it!
        If I want to use a word that describes me & use it until it loses its mankind inflicted bad word, I will. People like you made that word mean something bad. Not the ‘mentally handicapped’! They had no idea of its meaning until some idiot made it so. Mongoloid is hitting the word hate crowd and that’s upon us. The odd thing is these hated words were all used to describe ethnicity or mental illness including scientific terms such as idiot, moron & imbecile use to be used by the medical establishment as technical terms like today uses words like bi-polar, depression. It was not an insult. No matter what terminology is used and will be used it will eventually enter the world of the hater for it is in our very nature to demean, ridicule, be cruel etc to make themselves feel better about themselves & to achieve perceived power. It will never change. Ban a word today and some fool will just make another one. I prefer to use those words in a loving way thus taking away their power.

  18. Retard means ‘slow’. You can be slow without being mentally handicapped.
    People who don’t know the difference are retarded.

  19. This is so fucking retarded, if you’re aiming this to help people who are actually retarded treat them like normal humans instead of someone who has to live in fucking bubble wrap from “hurtful words”

  20. Everyone so fucking sensitive these days. It’s no wonder Trump has such a following. They’re sick of it.

  21. A lot of people are missing the point. Most people saying “retarded” essentially use it as a synonym of “dumb” or “stupid.” As someone who has known many mentally handicapped people, I can confirm they are not unintelligent in any way – they simply see the world differently and struggle more than the majority of people. So people, please stop using a word that is both incorrect and hurtful.

    1. No. I have never called an actual mentally handicapped person retarded, I’ve never seen that even happen in real life, people don’t generally use that term for people with actual disabilities. If there was one in the room while I’m talking I would avoid using that term, but it doesn’t hurt anybody when I use that term in any other company, the only thing it hurts is their delicate sensibilities.

    2. The word is only hurtful to morons. Retard means slow, its a term that has been used in music for a long time now.

      1. And the word has been hijacked to be an insult, I may start calling people a Jeremy to insinuate there thick, obnoxious, intolerant, stupid, nasty and just plain vile ?. Watch that one he’s a proper Jeremy

  22. Jeff, I use retard all the time. I have not once met an actual high functioning retard who took offense. I think your premise is rather silly.

    I say fag too, because I mean it. I strongly dislike gay culture and use language that reflects that.

    And Jew. I say Jew because personal experience has shown me the stereotypes about them are absolutely true. They should change their actions if they want to be viewed differently. This from someone who is Jewish, although at this point not culturally, just genetically.

    I think your assumption that people know better but say it anyway out of habit of poor impulse control is naive. We are saying exactly what we want.

    Please use your column to add something to the world. There are already too many people complaining others are mean.

  23. Censorship is alive and well. There was a time in this country where are men and women would gladly lose their lives to keep our lives living free. Today everyone gets ‘butthurt’ over just about anything & since its not only being allowed but encouraging censorship then all those lives were for naught. All over words. Not to mention, words only hold power when you let it and that is by taking a word and telling others how to think and feel about it. Retard can be used in a loving or a hateful way and instead of making it hateful how about teaching your children to not be a brat. Who gets hurt by that word? The retards do now but only because they were told it is a bad word otherwise they would have gone on with their lives happily content & never knowing its bad. Next time you meet one, ask them if they know the word and if so, why is it bad? Now run along and have a book burning party or find more words to turn to turn bad. Retard was their common name and not said out of hate until someone’s brat made it one. I am a retard and I am proud of it.

    1. Will you stop using the word ‘lose’? Its really insensitive to people who have lost their kids, mothers, fathers. It hurts people. They are the one’e who can use the word ‘lose’, not us.

  24. But if retarded men go with retarded women which would be a real match anyway.

    1. whats alternative to f. r. please help me , please dont kick me in the balls wait i would do that ,you would knock my ass out..

  25. Since when is retard a bad word? The word retard simply means slow. In music when the music slows down, the music has been retarded (Yes, this is a real term in music). Only overly sensitive cry babies get offended by the word.

    1. Feel for you, education and tolerance have eluded you, thankfully people such as you are in a minority

      1. You want a cookie for thinking empathy is a valid worldview. This isn’t how things work you idealistic fuckstick.

  26. Especially when these Butt Holes are suppose to show up at your house when you need to have something repaired and you wait around all day which they still never show up at all.

  27. Just look at the women nowadays that are everywhere since us men have to deal with that which certainly speaks for itself.

  28. i dont get why they made this offensive worse in the first place really f*cking stupid

  29. Yall should know that retard is my favorite word. I love it. I love the way it sounds. If you do something retarded I can call you out on being retarded. It’s a beautiful things.

    1. This world is full of very retarded people which unfortunately nothing can be done about it. And it is only going to get much worse.

  30. > Thanks, Jason, for bravely sharing your story of how the R-word has personally affected your family. I’m sorry for idiots like me who have caused you pain.

    So we can’t use the word retard, but you can use the word idiot? How does that work?

  31. Just look at all the fucking retarded people that God the moron himself made just to hurt many of us innocent normal people for no reason at all.

  32. Jesus Christ man, stop taking this word seriously like it’s a crime. I see cusses very often in informal conversations where anyone should expect them yet you’re not complaining about that?

    By the way, no, I’ll NEVER stop using the word “retard”. Unless I use the word to deliberately attack an innocent autistic child, it’s none of your goddamn business. I have my own legitimate reasons to use the word, and you have even bigger problems than me if you’re ignorant about that.

  33. whats a alternative for saying fuckin retard i am finding myself say even now, please help, i a f r addict..

  34. My autistic friend calls me a retard all the time. Retard isn’t offensive. All it really means is slow. My friends name is Logan. Sometimes I’ll call him retarded too. It’s just a word. Just a joke. If you don’t give the word power then in means nothing. It’s just a word. (edit: Logan just saw this post and called it retarded)

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