Dirty Words~ Contextual Madness?

Language is a powerful thing because it allows us to communicate. How we communicate is as varied as we are as individuals. Depending on your inclinations the visual, audio and print media you encounter utilizes words in particular ways to achieve certain reactionary ends. Words like “liberal” and “environmentalist” have recently taken on very negative connotations in some contexts–including some generally considered “mainstream”. I, and anyone reading this post,  could make a long list of words that by themselves are neither good nor evil, clean nor dirty, and are yet employed in very negative manners to suit certain agendas. A few months back I had an exchange with someone on another blog regarding particular political events.  One person discussed the word “peace” as if it was a concept advocated only by unpatriotic idiots.  Interestingly enough said person did not like being labeled as a “war-monger”. Even though they’d clearly stated their position they did not like the words that accurately described their chosen stance.  I wondered why then and still do now. If the descriptive shoe-word “fits” then wear it.  Perhaps the other person had never viewed themselves in the context of such a label? I don’t know because the conversation ended without any such  enlightenment.  But I know that I have had enough of having the things I value denigrated by the negativity of others. Hence I’ve decided to post some words that I currently view as “dirty” and/or “evil”.  Yes, I’m tired of being respectful, polite, tolerant and patient with people who are deliberately disrespectful, impolite, intolerant and impatient.  Perhaps one way of dealing with such folks is to give them a taste of their own behavior. I’m sure there are other more positive ways. But I am very tired of all this nasty nonsense that diverts attention from the real issues we all ought to be joining together to address in the MOST positive and effective ways. Maybe the air needs clearing, the cards need to be laid on the table and all that jazz. If nothing else, I’m going to enjoy some catharsis. So, here’s my current list of “dirty”–negative– words. Of course the words themselves are not literally “dirty” –they’re just the language means to denote concepts and actions.  You are invited to add to the list–be forewarned now that anything I deem posted with  deliberate intention to forment or spread hate  will see cyber ink only for as long as it takes me to discover it.  Why? Because this is my blogcasa and “my” casa means “my” ground-rules. 

Some of my current personal  “dirty” words, terms, phrases, concepts:    

hate                   murder           sexism               war              torture 

   greed                  genocide                          rape                           

  war-monger     exploitation       manipulation        fear    

“Wall Street”              “Corporate America”                  pollution           spy

                    “off shore drilling”               “big oil”       

                                      “Mountain-top Removal”

coal           oil         politician            “military-industrial complex” 

“profit motive”        “police state”       “full body scanner”

                      totalitarianism      racism       bigotry  

 intolerance     greed    pollution    exploitation    “will-full ignorance”

“Wal-Mart”            nuclear-energy



Discussion is invited in order to refine this attempt at communication. I’m also interested in learning about words that you’ve discovered have become “dirty” in certain contexts or guilty by “association.”


  1. September 17, 2010 at 9:44 am

    You can add “Enhanced interrogation,” “Revenue stream,” and “The war on Drugs” to the list.

    • September 17, 2010 at 2:19 pm

      Oh yeah, Fundamental Jelly! Now those are some very very DIRTY words indeed. All sorts of negative ethics and actions represented by “Enhanced interrogation,” “Revenue Stream,” and WOW–“The War on Drugs”—oh that last one is so rife with irony as to nearly defy coherent discussion. Ha–the war on drugs–is it nothing more than another money making enterprise for those in the right places? Who really wants to stop meeting the DEMAND for drugs? Oh and WHY is there such a demand for “illegal” drugs? Are they any different than all those purple pills advertised endlessly on the idiot boxes? I could go on and on regarding all of your choices–all excellent additions. If you care to add more, please do so!

  2. Meg said,

    September 16, 2010 at 9:44 pm

    I was listening to NPR today and there was an article about socialism being a dirty word, but apparently only in the USA. They were talking about companies not being owned by shareholders and ceo’s but by the workers. But wait, I think thats a good idea. O NO am I a socialist?

    • September 17, 2010 at 2:12 pm

      Yes, only in the USA where people have no real understanding of the basic concepts of socialism nor realize that in some countries there are active and working Socialist political parties. It’s almost always assoociated with communism and the Soviet Union–which leads to a very very limited comprehension of the political conceptual paradigmn. Same mindsets are unaware that the Indian Healthcare System in the USA is a ‘socialist’ model. Or that there are businesses owned by employees–like one of my local grocery stores. There’s also the problem that some people only focus on a ‘definition’ they can comprehend in the simplest sense without any exploration of the philosophical or historical contexts of ideas they fear due to propaganda.
      So, Meg, are you a socialist?

  3. echostains said,

    September 16, 2010 at 11:54 am

    Echostains was and still is a concept. it started out as a visual means of communication (painting), alas these days the communication is more through the written word and the art is not my own. We all need to communicate – and some are better at it then others. Sometimes when you read a text you become unsure how its ‘meant’ to be taken. A lot of it has to do with punctuation (and lack of it :)) There are a lot of negative words around like ‘rich’ ‘rolling in it’ wealth’ ‘cash in the bank’…… (negative to me because they don’t apply 😀 :D)
    I do take your point though about the negative words. I think the problem with them is that people misuse them and stick them into inappropriate (theres one) sentences.

    • September 17, 2010 at 2:04 pm

      Hi Echostains. I understand and agree with your comments. But I would takeyour point about misuse further–allowing for plain genuine ignorance–many people attach negative meantings to ‘words’ via their attitude and perceptions of concepts which in and of themselves have no such negative associations–like the word “environmentalist”. This is a word I’ve encountered people using as if it is a No Good, Very Bad thing to be aware of and concerned about nature/the environment. They use it as an ‘insult’. One might argue that my inclusion of “Corporate America” and “Wall Street” operates along the same lines–and to a degree it does–except that these ‘things’ have collected many negative associations via the unethical actions of people associated with them. So–what “dirty” word/words would you add to this list?

      • echostains said,

        September 18, 2010 at 3:40 pm

        probaby ‘violent’ and ‘abuse’ (which really is misuse of anything but I always see it as meaning sexually or emotionally) and ‘greed’ (which speaks for itself) but I always think of as wrong. Exploitation thats another that can have a negative meaning

      • September 19, 2010 at 1:28 am

        Lynda, “abuse” and “violent” are excellent additions to the list! Thank you.

  4. slpmartin said,

    September 16, 2010 at 3:35 am

    That’s quite a list you have…I shall try ever so hard not to use them in my comments…I do have my George Carlin moments though.;-)

    • September 17, 2010 at 1:57 pm

      USE the words at will, slpmartin. My labeling them as ‘dirty’ reveals my perspective on these concepts. It doesn’t mean ‘do not use’. George Carlin moments? I bet those are a hoot and a half!

    • September 17, 2010 at 2:05 pm

      Btw, slpmartin, what “dirty” word/words would you add to the list?

  5. lesliepaints said,

    September 16, 2010 at 1:41 am

    As I was growing up, my Father would label me as too intense about this or too intense about that. I grew up thinking that being intense was a negative personality trait. One day I used the word intense in a negative manner in reference to myself and a very insightful friend said, “Whoa! Whoever said intense was being something negative? I always thought it meant something positive.” I went home and looked it up in the dictionary and found it to mean of strong purpose and fervent. A weight was lifted off my shoulders that day. Good post, Eva. Sometimes we forget we are all human and disregard the fact that the words we have to communicate with sometimes fall short or mean something different to different cultures. All we can do is strive to communicate with one another better.

    • September 17, 2010 at 1:55 pm

      Intense as in passionate—ha, being passionate instead of cold and stoic is so threatening to some people. But I am glad that learning the meaning of intensity lightend and brightened your view of yourself, Leslie. We never really know quite what we’re doing to our children or other people with our words, do we? You’re right–we need to strive to communicate better/positively with each other.

    • artistatexit0 said,

      September 19, 2010 at 12:58 am

      It begins by redefining the terms and that means you can make words mean what you want them to. The word “liberal” is a classic case in point. How could such a simple, positive word become synomous in American society with bankrupt ideas? When you repeat lies enough times you can come to believe in them. Orwell is looking increasingly prophetic these days.

      • September 19, 2010 at 1:10 am

        Oh I do think, very seriously, that Orwell’s 1984 has “manifested” quite thoroughly!
        Your selection of “liberal” is a good example of a word that certain folks utter as if it represents downright ‘evil’ thinking.

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