Offensive terms: Offensive terms

August 21, 2008: Issue 252

Watch out for terms that, because of their history, aren’t appropriate for wordplay. Here are some we’ve caught in heds and lead-ins.

• final solution: Nazi Germany’s euphemism for genocide

• separate but equal: a phrase once used to justify racially segregated schools

• jungle fever: a pejorative term for interracial relationships

• China syndrome: the title of a movie about a nuclear meltdown

These writers meant no harm; they simply weren’t aware of the associations. If you don’t know the origin of a term, run it through Google before you use it.

Back to Style on the Go Archive
Back to BHG Stylebook Table of Contents