Breaking News from the Twisty Institute for Neologistic Research

Wherein Everyone’s Favorite Spinster Aunt Demonstrates How Adult Behavior Stands In Refreshing Contrast to Certain Tragically Common Strains of Self-Important Assholery

Good news, everyone!  Well, maybe not, but interesting news, nevertheless.  After a little (read: a lot more than we would have done) research, Twisty Faster of I Blame The Patriarchy has decided to lay “fucktard” to rest as a tool of patriarchy-blaming and general vituperation.

As a result, I am happy to announce that I, ignorant chump that I am, have been getting it wrong all along. No, it’s true! It turns out that –tard is not quite the suffix I thought it was; –ard, in fact, is the appendage for which the word ‘fuck’ has been calling out lo these many years. If only I had listened to its anguished cries! For had I bothered to give it five minutes’ thought, it would have dawned on me that it makes far more sense without the ‘T’. But you show me the spinster aunt who has five minutes to spare for thought, and I’ll show you a spinster aunt with a staff of twelve fawning minions and a red-lining IQ.

Go check out the rest of the article.  Her reasoning is compelling, and she even provides a handy (if unfamiliar) replacement. Even if you don’t agree with her conclusions, you have to admire a popular blogger being able to suck it up and say “I was wrong”.  Not that we have any contrasting examples in mind.


18 Responses to “Breaking News from the Twisty Institute for Neologistic Research”

  1. blue girl Says:

    Short Stack of Pancakes here with a little off-topic request.

    Res, could you (or aif, if you’re reading — could you?) or someone over here that I love – please teach me how to put a link to a post in a comment? I don’t want to just cut and paste web addresses anymore.

    That is for amateur computer programmers. I’m trying to hone my computer programming skills. I really want to know.



  2. exile Says:

    Um, she’s incorrect about being incorrect

    The suffix -ard would be incorrect, but that is not the way the word “fucktard” evolved

    -ard or -art (suff.)~ One that habitually or excessively is in a specified condition or performs a specified action: drunkard

    if the “tard” at the end of the word is from bastard or retard then the hybrid of fuck-tard is completely acceptable. ie: fuck(ing)-(re)tard

    also, using just the word “tard” is considered a colloquialism short for retard.

    just fyi

  3. blue girl Says:

    Thank you!

  4. Pinko Punko Says:

    keep reading, bastard and retard are totally different. check the whole thing.

  5. AoT Says:

    “if the “tard” at the end of the word is from bastard or retard then the hybrid of fuck-tard is completely acceptable. ie: fuck(ing)-(re)tard”

    The problem is that bastard breaks down etymologically as Bast-ard, whereas retard breaks down as re-tard.

  6. almostinfamous Says:

    fuck that, i have converted to the cobag school of insultery

    BG, in order to achieve link-fu on the internet, you need to go something like

    (left angle bracket)a href=”paste link here” (right angle bracket) text that becomes link(left angle bracket)/a(right angle bracket)

    don’t forget to put the text that becomes link, or the closing /a

    also, even if you know how to use the link thing, you cannae use it on your own blog as you have disabled HTML commenting 🙂

  7. blue girl Says:

    I love AIF.

    Sorry I’m not commenting on the “tard” situation.

    It’s unbecoming for me to do so.

    I will go try to enable html commenting!

  8. Res Publica Says:

    I’m sticking with fuckwit – it preserves my beloved f-bomb without making the special kids cry. I personally don’t feel as strongly about this particular matter as some, but I thought it was such an interesting post because she is SO outspoken, and won’t hesitate to disagree with her readers in no uncertain terms. But she’s also thoughtful and honest and not married to her own importance, unlike some people *cough*johnaravosis*cough* we know.

  9. plover Says:

    I wrote this comment to post over at Twisty’s, but as I’ve never commented there, I ended up feeling a bit awkward about barging in with such a pedantic epic in tow. However, it seemed a shame not to inflict it on somebody. It’s supposed follow on from the comments there on how the word “retarded” is used in various contexts, but should probably make sense on its own.


    Yes, it is true that “moron”, “imbecile”, and “idiot” were at one point gradations in the terminology of mental development used by early 20th century psychology to describe those who, in the parlance of that era, were called “feeble-minded”. But given that (probably) over 95% percent of native English speakers are not aware of this, and the words now function simply as synonyms for “stupid person” or “fool”, is there a problem with using them as such?

    Venturing into my (old, dead tree) OED: “idiot” goes back to at least the 14th century, and seems, even then, to have meanings both as a term for someone exhibiting mental faculties other than the norm (whether that state is congenital or due to something like a head injury, or some kinds of mental illness), i.e. designating a person “permenantly so afflicted, as distinguished from one who is temporarily insane or ‘out of his wits'”, and also as a more general term for a foolish or stupid person. At one point it could also refer to someone simply uneducated or unskilled, or in some contexts, a lay person.

    “Imbecile” goes back to at least the 16th century. It is derived from the Latin imbecillus which meant “weak in body or mind”, and indeed in English was originally used as much or more to refer to a weakened physical state as to weakened mental faculties.

    On the other hand the definition for “moron” in the OED’s 1st edition reads: Obs. A variety of salamander. (Note: I can’t give a precise date for this citation as the 1st ed. came out over many years and I don’t know when the “M” volume came out. Somewhere around 1910-15 would be my guess. More on the history of the OED.)

    According to the OED’s first Supplement (1933), “moron” was adopted by the American Association for the Study of the Feeble-minded in 1910 as part of the above-mentioned system of gradations. The word seems to have been coined directly from a Greek and Latin word for “stupid”. The use in print under the more general definition of a “fool” or a “brute” is dated to 1922.

    The real problem regarding such terms strikes me as the continued equating of “stupidity” and “mental retardation” in such a fashion that words synonymous to one of these are used interchangeably with words synonymous to the other (along with some words for types of mental illness). However, these terms have come to designate two very different phenomena. Is it possible that the best way forward might be to emphasize that difference? Let words that mean more or less “stupid” mean that; those terms that refer to distinct developmental differences or to mental illnesses should refer explicitly to those phenomena. Words meaning “stupid” are inappropriate and offensive when applied to people with developmental differences, because, precisely, those people are not acting “stupid”, but rather in accordance with their individual mental faculties. Conversely, it is inappropriate and offensive to call someone acting stupid “retarded”, as that accords a derogatory character to an inherent physical state which is an entirely separate phenomenon from what is implied by stupidity.

    As a contrast, consider the phrase “call a spade a spade”. Now, when I learned this phrase as child, I thought it referred to digging tools: a spade is an ordinary household tool which doesn’t need any kind of fancy name, so a plain speaking person will just call it what it is (instead of, say, an “entrenching tool”). It seemed a like perfectly innocent linguistic holdover from agrarian life. Obviously, I didn’t think about it in such analytic terms, but that’s basically what I thought was going on. However, as people here no doubt know, the phrase is not derived from a garden implement, but rather from a racial epithet and some concomitant prejudices. Further, awareness of this history is widespread enough for the phrase to remain both offensive to most (if not all) African-Americans, and also a term of art for racists. So, while there is a reading of the phrase entirely divorced from any derogatory usage (my childhood reading), and while I have met any number of people who were unaware of the history of the phrase, it is not the sort of phrase I would ever argue should be treated as something innocent. It is an objectionable usage that should not be let pass.

    I’m taking all of the previous paragraph as a more-or-less standard argument regarding the type of linguistic phenomena under discussion. In this context, my question becomes at what point does an ordinary term (like “idiot”) coded into a discriminatory linguistic context, or a coined word (like “moron”) invented for a discriminatory context, lose the charge associated with that context?

    At this point – at least to me, I could be wrong – the words discussed above do not seem to me to hold any residue of their technical meanings in any common usage. (Also, strangely enough, to the degree such residue exists at all, it seems most etiolated for “moron”.) So, it seems just allowing these words to mean “stupid” might not be a problem, as long as the distinction between “stupid” and “retarded” is made clear. My guess is that it is precisely because these meanings were imposed in a technical context that these terms may have returned to, or found their way to, common usage without retaining the derogatory charge of a phrase like “call a spade a spade” which arose as a spontaneous, rather than imposed, usage.

    I claim no expertise on this issue. If I am mistaken about how people think about, use, or hear the words discussed above, I would be happy to hear another account. However, I’m offering the interpretation above as lens to think about the issue. Thus, even if I am in error, perhaps it is worth considering to what degree the possible hurtfulness of these terms derives from continuing conflation of the concept of “stupidity” with “mental retardation”, rather than any charge associated with the particular terms.

  10. plover Says:

    Gah! I bloggered an italics close tag…

  11. Adorable Girlfriend Says:

    No worries, Plover. I am just glad to see you stopped by.

  12. plover Says:

    It occurs to me that my post actually doesn’t make sense outside of a context where people are actually expressing the position it argues against. And while this is true of some of Twisty’s commenters, it seems extremely unlikely that anyone here leans that way.

  13. plover Says:

    Oh, and did you Twisty’s post today about how Poland is hiding their booze, tampons and ice cream from the Pope?

  14. almostinfamous Says:

    it wouldn’t kill you to add an in the next post would it?

  15. Res Publica Says:

    I ended up feeling a bit awkward about barging in with such a pedantic epic in tow. However, it seemed a shame not to inflict it on somebody.

    Well…I’m glad we’re good for something, then!

  16. Res Publica Says:

    Wow, you really roasted that comment. There was a double EM tag at the front of every paragraph! But it only took a few hours to edit them out, since your comment only had about 49 paragraphs.

    Yes, i did see the post about the Pope’s delicate visual-receptor globes and how they must be protected from tampons. Actually, the tampon thing, while retarded, was fairly predictable, since the Roman Catholic Church is more or less founded on the proposition that cooter is icky. But…ICE CREAM? For christsake…that’s bleak.

  17. plover Says:

    Damn, WP succeeded at making something impressively annoying out of one misplaced “/” character.

    A friend of mine said this nonsense with the Pope and Poland was a bit like the Potemkin village, except in this case using a whole country.

    Well…I’m glad we’re good for something, then!
    What, did you miss my earlier attempt to use the Republic as a lumber room?

  18. fioricet Says:



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