condescending names
May 14, 2011 4:59 PM   Subscribe

trying to compile a list of condescending terms like "kid" or "son"

I suppose those are more male-directed ones, and sometimes girls refer to each other as "sweetie" and "honey" etc when they are arguing

I'm not looking so much for words that are insulting (like idiot, retard etc), but words that are sort of patronizing

sometimes "bro" is used in this way but usually i find it more or less puts them on your level rather than make them feel insulted

they can be ones you've seen offline or online (i'm not sure if there's really a difference, though)

mostly terms that could be used like "now listen here ____ (son, kid, sweetie)" etc
posted by addelburgh to Human Relations (80 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
 
Friend. If said in a condescending way, it'll make you see red...
posted by Capt.DooDooFace at 5:01 PM on May 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Champ. According to Jeph Jacques, anyways.

Also:
-Bud
-Boy (racist undertones, too!).
posted by alexandermatheson at 5:01 PM on May 14, 2011


lady
posted by Foci for Analysis at 5:01 PM on May 14, 2011


"Sport."
posted by en forme de poire at 5:01 PM on May 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


I guess it's slightly more angry than condescending, but "bub" or "bucko"?
posted by troublesome at 5:02 PM on May 14, 2011


Double patronizing: "young lady".
posted by anaelith at 5:02 PM on May 14, 2011 [4 favorites]


Previously, perhaps relevant: "We'll just have to see about that, sport."
posted by MonkeyToes at 5:03 PM on May 14, 2011


Junior.
posted by Lifeson at 5:03 PM on May 14, 2011


"Chief."
posted by eggplantplacebo at 5:04 PM on May 14, 2011 [5 favorites]


Sweetheart, toots
posted by vincele at 5:05 PM on May 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Pal"
"Little Lady"
posted by bookmammal at 5:09 PM on May 14, 2011


"Hon"
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 5:10 PM on May 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


doll
kiddo
small-fry
posted by droomoord at 5:11 PM on May 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Condescension is more about tone than content. Just turn on the sarcasm:

Sir. Miss. Boss. Love. Waiter. Mr. President. etc.
posted by swift at 5:11 PM on May 14, 2011


Previous tangentially related thread.
posted by anaelith at 5:11 PM on May 14, 2011


Tiger.
posted by palomar at 5:12 PM on May 14, 2011


Fellow, when said to a waiter. Also, I always found "boy" to be highly demeaning.
posted by babbageboole at 5:14 PM on May 14, 2011


Guy.
posted by rhizome at 5:19 PM on May 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Sir", when said by a cop.
posted by orthogonality at 5:21 PM on May 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


"Big guy." I had a panhandler start his pitch to me with that once. "Hey, big guy!" I was like, "Who are you, my uncle?"
posted by hydrophonic at 5:26 PM on May 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


I always say "boy" or "girl" when my children are acting up.

Me: Boy! You better clean that up.
posted by Sweetmag at 5:26 PM on May 14, 2011


Pet. But that might be 1950s Australian.
posted by taff at 5:26 PM on May 14, 2011


-squirt
-honeychild
-darlin'
-chump
-(little) fella
-baby
-babes
-sweets
posted by raztaj at 5:27 PM on May 14, 2011


Buster
posted by Mngo at 5:34 PM on May 14, 2011


Friendo.
posted by Rhaomi at 5:34 PM on May 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


Garçon for waiters.
posted by troublesome at 5:39 PM on May 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Kemosabe"
posted by briank at 5:39 PM on May 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ace
posted by Jon_Evil at 5:46 PM on May 14, 2011


You
Bucko
posted by Room 641-A at 5:50 PM on May 14, 2011


slick.

as in: "nice going, slick."
posted by Alcibiades. at 5:53 PM on May 14, 2011


"Ladies," when said to men. In the same vein, "buttercup."
posted by MShades at 5:57 PM on May 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


Grasshopper
posted by lakeroon at 5:58 PM on May 14, 2011




My dear
My lad
MAH BOI
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 6:02 PM on May 14, 2011


missie/missy
honey
posted by devinemissk at 6:04 PM on May 14, 2011


Sparky, Skippie
posted by FormerMermaid at 6:07 PM on May 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Princess
posted by dopeydad at 6:08 PM on May 14, 2011


Cupcake?
posted by small_ruminant at 6:40 PM on May 14, 2011


Laughing Boy.
posted by scruss at 6:40 PM on May 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Honey, sweetie, baby, hon, sugar, child, girl, boy.
posted by cmgonzalez at 6:41 PM on May 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


kitten
precious
babydoll

Oddly enough if said in the right tone of voice, even to a young women, these words can make rage blackouts happen.
posted by teleri025 at 6:44 PM on May 14, 2011


Scooter
Hotshot
posted by amyms at 6:51 PM on May 14, 2011


You people.
posted by ninazer0 at 7:09 PM on May 14, 2011


People will disagree, I'm sure, but I'm certain that "young lady" is always meant to be condescending no matter the tone in which it is said. Same goes for "ma'am."
posted by chez shoes at 7:22 PM on May 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Youngster used to drive me nuts for some reason.
posted by acheekymonkey at 7:24 PM on May 14, 2011


Champ.
posted by Neofelis at 8:01 PM on May 14, 2011


"Einstein" is almost always used in a condescending manner.
posted by Mikey-San at 8:17 PM on May 14, 2011


Killer
posted by jozxyqk at 8:54 PM on May 14, 2011


also, "babycakes" (c.f. about 0:50 here)
posted by en forme de poire at 8:56 PM on May 14, 2011


"Buddy" (although it also seems to be a generic term for a male stranger in New England)
posted by JDHarper at 9:06 PM on May 14, 2011


seconding "guy"

where I come from that one is considered a major insult and can get you punched in the head.
posted by dawdle at 10:02 PM on May 14, 2011


sweetheart, darling, honey
posted by bardophile at 10:23 PM on May 14, 2011


Grandma or Grandpa, in a condescending tone.
posted by aryma at 10:31 PM on May 14, 2011


Dubya
Scooter
Jeb
posted by hal_c_on at 10:57 PM on May 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


This is more a matter of tone, but I use 'sweetheart' or 'darling' when I mean 'you utter fucking idiot'.
posted by Tamanna at 11:08 PM on May 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


chez shoes: "People will disagree, I'm sure, but I'm certain that "young lady" is always meant to be condescending no matter the tone in which it is said. Same goes for "ma'am.""

Yeah, people sure do disagree. Where in the world do you live that "ma'am" is condescending?

In fact, of all the previous responses, I can only find a handful that aren't entirely contextual. It's possible to take just about any form of address (including, apparently, explicit honorifics) and say it condescendingly, but that doesn't mean they belong on a list of condescending forms of address.
posted by d. z. wang at 11:37 PM on May 14, 2011 [4 favorites]


"Young man" ain't much better than "young lady". "Master" is another one...I've even heard "Professor" in a condescending way.
(And then there's the more subtle ones. A bunch of musicians arrive ay a gig, and the perfumed towering organizer picks the one of the bunch in jeans and t-shirt and asks "are you the driver?")
posted by Namlit at 12:21 AM on May 15, 2011


Like d. z. wang above I think most of these would depend almost entirely on context and could equally well be terms of endearment in some circumstances. So is it more a case of looking for informal terms of endearment capable of being misused by the patronising?
posted by Coaticass at 12:26 AM on May 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ma'am can be used condescendingly, but 'young lady' is always condescending.

On my personal list, 'babs'.
posted by plonkee at 1:57 AM on May 15, 2011


Specific to Scotland, I hate 'hen' as a term used towards women. Interestingly when I searched for examples on the internet, it was described as a term of endearment, but personally I have always experienced it as a condescending 'aw'right, hen' from older men.
posted by maybeandroid at 3:17 AM on May 15, 2011


There's condescending names derived from certain people or characters, like "Einstein" and "Sherlock." I'm sure there's a slew of them, but I can't think of any others right now... Judas? Shakespeare?
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 3:47 AM on May 15, 2011


Biddy.
posted by theBigRedKittyPurrs at 4:51 AM on May 15, 2011


"Buddy" (although it also seems to be a generic term for a male stranger in New England)

I have coworkers that call me buddy and it drives me nuts because it always seems to be a power play kind of thing. They are all a) much larger (physically) than I am and b) definitely not my friends. I also seem to be the only one they ever call buddy.
posted by backseatpilot at 5:14 AM on May 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ace.

Also, consider 'Tex.' Surprisingly satisfying.

And playing off TheSecretDecoderRing's note, I once was called Copernicus. I laughed (out loud)
posted by troywestfield at 5:56 AM on May 15, 2011


I'm a large guy, and I get a little perturbed when people call me "Hoss," or "Big Guy," or especially "Big 'un" It seems really condescending to me.
posted by Shohn at 7:00 AM on May 15, 2011


twerp
posted by BustedCatalyzer at 8:09 AM on May 15, 2011


Seconding "kiddo". At an old job the CEO's administrative assistant called everyone younger than herself "kiddo"—incredibly condescending/annoying.
posted by blueberry at 8:36 AM on May 15, 2011


Well, that's the thing about being patronizing. It's way, way more effective when you use words that are innocuous or even respectful and let tone do the job. That way they can't really complain, and they know it.

That said, "young man" seems only to be said to me by people who want to remind me of my inferiority to them. ("What? You ARE a young man." See how that works?)
posted by ctmf at 8:54 AM on May 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


My good man or my good woman. But context is everything. I can make "your Honor" or Senator siund demeaning. Listen to Question Time or Senate floor debates for examples--"my esteemed colleague" is a slur.
posted by Ideefixe at 9:00 AM on May 15, 2011


More often than not, when a stranger uses your first name, it is meant to be condescending. Maybe not in a mean way, but in a "I am taking our relationship to a personal level without your consent" kind of way.

"Master" is another one...

I actually heard a clerk at a convenience store use this term for a precocious young man and it sounded perfectly innocuous. But it was used in the classic salutatory nature, like Mister but for a younger person.

If it is used in the "yassuh, Massuh" way, obviously, yes.

As said above, tone matters a lot. I've been on the receiving end of a number of "chief", "sport", "big guy" names, and it usually didn't feel condescending. It more felt like a linguistic placeholder for a sentence that demanded an object, but they didn't know my name, or my name didn't fit the cadence of the sentence.

The rules I've noticed are: if the term is a diminutive of the person's actual status, then it's always meant to be condescending. Even if the speaker doesn't consiously know they are being condescending, they are. "Honey..." is just another way to say "been there, done that," which is another way to say "isn't is cute how you don't know what's really going on" or "gosh, I remember fondly and wistfully a time when I was as naive as you are."

If it is an elevation of the person's status- "easy there, big guy," or "whatever you say, Senator..." it is also condescending, but less so. It is *almost* a slightly respectful/funny way of telling someone they are coming off haughtily, or are overreacting to something.
posted by gjc at 9:56 AM on May 15, 2011


This is more a matter of tone, but I use 'sweetheart' or 'darling' when I mean 'you utter fucking idiot'.

Seconding this and adding "dear."
posted by naoko at 12:23 PM on May 15, 2011


Also, and this is highly culture-dependent, using your last name as a form of address. Even in business. I am either Charles or Mr. Babbage-Boole. Never Babbage-Boole. That's just demeaning, but only in my culture. Maybe not yours.
posted by babbageboole at 4:54 PM on May 15, 2011


Yes "Guy" makes me want to roundhouse kick people.
posted by jasondigitized at 6:22 PM on May 15, 2011


captain, skipper, little dude, shorty, short man, munchkin, muffin, runt, rascal
posted by null14 at 8:39 PM on May 15, 2011


Guv'nuh.
posted by Wet Spot at 8:10 AM on May 16, 2011


Oh, stewardess!
posted by wenestvedt at 9:48 AM on May 16, 2011


Obvious references to a person's appearance (obviously excluding racism): "big red" or "red" for redheads, "blondie" for blondes, the aforementioned "big guy" for... well, big guys.
posted by AmandaA at 10:47 AM on May 16, 2011


...condescending names derived from certain people or characters, like "Einstein" and "Sherlock."
Love that.
"Okay, Horowitz, would you get off that bench now and let someone real play?"

On topic: "good lookin'," as in "Hi there, good lookin'!", is still missing here.
posted by Namlit at 11:08 AM on May 16, 2011


Just a note that "young lady" is especially dreadful when applied to someone obviously well over 50.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 9:07 AM on May 17, 2011


I find 'Ma'am' to be extremely condescending. it's outdated enough (at least where I live) that it comes across as pointed and snide.

I'm in my mid-twenties, so when I get it instead of 'Miss' it's even more snide. but when i'm talking to cheeky telemarketer or tech support person, i do not need to be reminded of my gender, thank you very much.
posted by custard heart at 6:49 PM on June 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


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