Saying Retarded or Retard is Offensive: Don’t Be An Ass

Glee Stars Know the word retard is offensive

Sue Sylvester is the worst, and even she doesn't say it! | Source:

Fair warning: the next time I hear someone describe something annoying, upsetting, or otherwise negative as a “retard” or “retarded”, I’m going to lose my shizz.

The terms “retarded” and “retard” are offensive, yet for some reason, these word keeps popping up in people’s daily dialogue as a substitute for “pathetic”, “weak”, or “stupid”. They’re used to describe ex-boyfriends, enemies, infuriating situations and uninformed arguments.

And guess what: they shouldn’t be. Here’s why.

1. Because mental retardation (or, in more contemporary parlance, developmental disability) doesn’t have some kind of moral value: it’s a disability. So unless you’d describe something stupid by saying “that’s so cancerous”, or talk trash about your exboyfriend by saying “he’s such an amputee” – basically, unless you’d neg on the deaf, the diseased, and the missing-of-limb to make a point about how much you hate your science homework – then don’t use mental disability as a synonym for stupidity.

saying retard is offensive

Saying "retard" makes you look like trash. | Source:

2. Because you never know who you’re hurting. Once upon a time, I couldn’t help noticing the way that one of my good friends would flinch every time someone said, “That’s retarded.” It was like she’d been slapped. Turned out, her beloved little brother had been born with Down Syndrome – and every time someone described something worthless as “retarded”, they were describing someone she loved as worthless. Could someone you care about be wounded by your words? Are you sure you want to risk finding out?

3. And finally, because what “retarded” actually means, per dictionary definition, is “delayed”. Which means that the only thing “retarded” about using that word as a negative is your empathy and emotional maturity.

And that if you keep using the word like that, there’s not going to be anything retarded, in the strict definition of the word, about the connection between my fist and your face.


Do you say the “R” word and brush it off as just a bad habit? Do you get upset when people say those words around you? Tell me about it in the comments!

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  • It’s funny on another site that’s all someone calls me and do I care…….nope

  • VirtualMark

    Shut up, retard.

  • Katie

    my sister has down syndrome and i just snap everytime anyone says retarted….it drives me insane!

  • Shathehunchback ugly

    Yes retarded does leave a scar in my heart.
    It all started @biology class when teacher taught
    how lack of hormones cauae retardation.
    I was shocked at a guy who was sitting a few seats away
    who told to my friend sitting next to me that I was RETARDEd.I was so upset because my friend joined him and were laughinh at me.True I was fat and had a hunch back but retarded to me was so hurtful.The only way to ovecome criticism is to have a tough heart. I pray each night to die as I dont want to luve in the world anymore

  • Ban the R word, then we’ll talk about banning bossy.

    Stop wasting your time. Ban this word, not bossy. Also, using this word instead of stupid, which is much less offensive, shows that you have a very limited vocabulary.

    I used this word only once, and it was to make sure I heard my friend right. (She had used the word, and I asked her if she really said it)
    This reminds me of the whole Derpy Hooves debate.
    Everyone who was saying that a pony named Derpy was offensive to disabled people, kept calling Derpy *the “R” word*.
    I was speechless. They were using an offensive word to describe a pony who wasn’t offensive.

    BTW, their complaint was the she was crossed-eyed, had the name Derpy, and some said she sounded disabled. Link to the footage in question.
    (Honestly, I found it more offensive that it was edited to remove this)

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  • Used the word.

    I don’t think anybody with common sense is going to call somebody with a handicap retarded, nor should they; that IS offensive and hurtful. In argument it’d be just as hurtful to call somebody ‘stupid’ ‘idiotic’ ‘dumb’ for having a disability. If somebody is using the term in a context, towards a context, and in an environment that has nothing to do with disability why would you attempt to associate whatever they said with disabled people when they weren’t even doing that in the first place? Is it possible that they used the term in the first place because they were associating the term to mean stupid and not associating it with people who had disabilities. Language changes to mean different things just because something meant something at one point doesn’t mean it can’t ever mean something entirely different, 30-40 years ago the word queer would be used as strictly an insult, 50 years ago the term guedo wasn’t a television label it was a slur. For example, I generally do avoid using the term because I understand the arguments for why some people are offended by it. I also know that it is a used as pejorative term. I was talking with a friend last night and I used the word, I get irritated when I tell that particular story and it just popped out. I referred to the nurse who had nearly killed my aunt because of her carelessness and ignorance, refusing to let my aunt see a doctor, while she sat in pain in the ER for several hours ‘retarded’. I wasn’t thinking, speaking of, or even associating the term with ‘person with disability’ I was strictly thinking ‘idiot who nearly made a fatal mistake’. I was even a little taken aback because I rarely to never use the word. However, my question is why would anybody have made the attempt to invoke or tie disability into what I had said when I clearly wasn’t referring to a person with a disability. I think it’s because in argument I believe that people with disabilities are NOT ‘retarded’. Nurses who nearly kill your loved ones are.

    • Mandy

      Note: I posted under the name of: Ban the R word, then we’ll talk about banning bossy (somewhere along those lines…)
      Yes, the R word probably was an appropriate synonym for stupid, but because of what it’s become, we should just remove it all together.

  • Marcus

    I have a sibling who is special needs and I hate when people use that word. People know I don’t like it and they know my brother is special needs but they still say it. A lot of times they just say it because its knitted in their vocabulary. 2 years ago Obama passed Rosa’s law that changed the medical diagnosis of “mentally retarded” to intellectual disability. One time a kid in my grade made fun of my brother and for the next week people hated him and would always bother him about it. He even came crying to me saying sorry even though to this day he still uses the word, as do 90% of the kids in my grade do. My real friends don’t and that really makes me grateful for them. They usually will stop someone if they say it and they love my brother. In my opinion, the people who use it are the real dumb asses who have no vocabulary to use a word like weak, or stupid. Not to mention there making fun of someone who can barely walk, cant talk, and can only eat puree foods.

  • thatretardedguy

    I find you calling people “ass” highly offensive, how dare you compare people to a bodypart that has no control over it’s functions and socially crafted stigmas! YOU SHOULD BE ASHAMED OF YOURSELF!

    • Mandy

      In that context, ass is referring to donkey, not a posterior.
      Your username is offensive, though. I can’t believe it got past moderation.