Are You Easily Offended?

offendedI ordered a large pizza last night to share with my roommate after an exhausting day at the office, but being the niggard that he is, he refused to split the cost with me. Instead of bonding with the pianist in the other room, I ended up sitting on my coccyx and watching a TV documentary about a bunch of seamen jaculating buckets over some stranded cooters and masticated alone.

If you made it through the previous paragraph without cringing, chances are you’ve got a great vocabulary (or there are not many ways to offend you). Now let’s try a more politically correct version:

I ordered a large pizza last night to share with my roommate after an exhausting day at the office, but being the miser that he is, he refused to split the cost with me. Instead of bonding with the piano player in the other room, I ended up sitting on my tailbone and watching a TV documentary about a bunch of sailors throwing buckets over some stranded sea turtles and chewed alone.

English can be quite a funny language and people can be offended by just about anything. Though the first paragraph may seem innocently tongue-in-cheek, perhaps it’s best to avoid certain words rather than stir the pot of controversy.

Niggard (noun) – an excessively parsimonious, miserly or stingy person

This is a word with Scandinavian origins dating back to the fourteenth century that has nothing to do with race. However, in a list of words to potentially avoid, this one takes the cake. Just ask David Howard, a political aide forced to resign after using the word in reference to a budget, or Stephanie Bell, a teacher reprimanded for using the word in a discussion on literary characters.

Pianist (noun) – a person who plays the piano

Imagine teaching English as a foreign language and holding back laughter while listening to a class full of teenage girls practice the pronunciation of this one.

Coccyx (noun) – a small triangular bone forming the lower extremity of the spinal column in humans

Remember the scene in Napoleon Dynamite where Uncle Rico tells Napoleon that “grandma broke her coccyx?” This word is pretty mild in comparison, but it’s still funny.

Seamen (noun) – persons skilled in seamanship; sailors

If you don’t know why this sounds offensive, you probably haven’t hit puberty yet.

offended 2

Jaculate (verb) – to throw or hurl (esp. a dart, javelin, etc.)

It’s a shame this word has fallen out of the modern lexicon. Imagine a sports announcer reporting on the accurate jaculations of the winning quarterback.

Cooter (noun) – any of several large aquatic turtles of the southern U.S. and northern Mexico

It’s probably a good thing that turtles aren’t easily confused with female genitalia.

Masticate (verb) – to chew

It’s not very embarrassing to have someone walk in on you while masticating (as long as you’re wearing pants).

With words like these, we can choose to either educate or avoid. Which side are you on? What are your favorite naughty-sounding words?