University's language guide warns against using words such as 'lame' and 'housekeeping' 5 months ago

University's language guide warns against using words such as 'lame' and 'housekeeping'

Other problematic words include 'grandfather,' 'minority,' and 'ninja'

A university in America has released a language guide labelling a number of everyday words as "problematic."


The University of Washington Information Technology department's "inclusive language guide" lists a number of words that are “racist,” “sexist,” “ageist,” or “homophobic.”

This includes words like "grandfather," "housekeeping," "minority," "ninja," and "lame."

For example the guide states that the word "lame" is problematic because it is "ableist."


The guide states: "This word is offensive, even when it’s used in slang for uncool because it’s using a disability in a negative way to imply that the opposite, which would be not lame, to be superior."

Meanwhile, the word "minority" implies a "‘less than’ attitude toward the community or communities being discussed."

The guide describes "grandfather" as a problematic word because the term was “used as a way to exempt some people from a change because of conditions that existed before the change.”

The main example of this is the ‘Grandfather clause’ which originated in the American South in the 1890s as a way to defy the 15th Amendment and prevent black Americans from voting.


The guide goes on to describe the term "housekeeping" as problematic because it can "feel gendered" adding that phrases with “man” in - such as “manpower,” “man hours,” or “man-in-the-middle” - are considered “not inclusive” and “thus sexist.”

And words such as "spirit animal," "ninja," and "guru" are all examples of cultural appropriation according to the guide.

Employees within the department are encouraged to contact vendors who use any of the problematic words in the guide and ask them to avoid using the terms.

The webpage gives a sample prompt for employees to use when sending emails to vendors about this issue as well.


The prompt reads: “Unfortunately, in working with your product/service we have identified language that can be considered offensive due to its racist, ableist and/or sexist origins.

“Can you let us know what efforts you are undertaking to move away from this language so as to create a more inclusive product/service?”

Related links: