r-word

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English[edit]

Alternative forms[edit]

Noun[edit]

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r-word (plural r-words)

  1. (euphemistic) The word retard regarded as a vulgar or taboo word.
    • 2003, James Meadours, "Tell the President Stop using that "R" word, Mouth 14.3 (Sep/Oct 2003) p34. [1]
      I recently spoke supporting a new name for the President's Committee on Mental Retardation. I suggested it be changed to "President's Committee for People with Developmental Disabilities."
    • 2008, "The r-word", National Post (Don Mills, Ontario) 13 Aug 2008, pA.12. [2]
      The Tropic Thunder premiere presented a particularly strong opportunity for advocacy groups to make further progress on this front, because the R-word has played a major role in advance viral marketing for the prospective big-budget blockbuster....
    • 2010, Christopher M. Fairman, "Saying it is hurtful. Banning it is worse.", The Washington Post, 2010-02-14 online
      The latest battle over the R-word kicked into high gear with a Jan. 26 Wall Street Journal report that last summer White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel blasted liberal activists unhappy with the pace of health-care reform, deriding their strategies as "[expletive] retarded."
    • 2010, "Jennifer Aniston slammed for using 'retard' word in interview", Asian News International (New Delhi) 20 Aug 2010 [3]
      "When people continue to use the 'R' word, it's hurtful," Seckler added.
  2. (euphemistic) The word redskin or redskins (including Redskins as a team name) regarded as a vulgar or taboo word.
    • 1992, Clarence Page, "Block that trademarked racial epithet", The Orlando Sentinel, 09/23/1992, p A9 [4]
      For years, Native American Indian groups and a wide variety of knee-jerk liberal sympathizers, including me, your humble scrivener, have pointed fingers of shame, shame, shame at the R-word team.
    • 2001, Bruce Stapleton, Redskins: Racial Slur Or Symbol of Success?, iUniverse, p 49 [5]
      “The r-word is no more acceptable to American Indians than the n-word is to blacks,” one woman stated succinctly in a recent Post letter to the editor ....
    • 2008, Kathleen Eagle, Mystic Horseman, page 272:
      It's better than the R word, huh? Redskin? Better than prairie nigger. That's a real beaut. It's even better than Native American.
  3. (euphemistic) The word rape regarded as a vulgar or taboo word.
    • 1994, Harvey Porlock, "On the Critical List; Books", The Times (London (UK)) 17 Apr 1994, [6]
      "Updike can use the `R' word" (rape, he meant) "to describe the love-making (sic) of the two Brazilians and get away with it."
    • 2001, Noelle Howie, "By any other name", Ms (11) 2 (Feb/Mar 2001) pp. 86–9. [7]
      As the viewer of any after-school special can tell you, women shy away from the R word because they blame themselves.
    • 2004, Eric Schmitt, "Army Retraining Soldiers to Meet Its Shifting Needs", New York Times 11 Mar 2004, p A22. [8]
      "You don't ask a victim 'How's it going?' and you don't use the R word with them."
    • 2009, "The Indian rape trick", The Hindustan Times, New Delhi, 23 Nov 2009. [9]
      Of late though, the R-word has acquired a dark new meaning with guys leaping out of bushes onto hapless maidens.
  4. (humorous) Any word beginning with r that is not normally taboo but is considered (often humorously) to be so in the given context.
    • 1993, Sam Roberts, "Mayoral Campaign Tests The Loyalty of Democrats", The New York Times, page B2 [10]
      Neither Mayor David N. Dinkins nor Mr. Cuomo, though, has been reluctant to invoke the symbolism of another R-word: Republican.
    • 1994, Charlie Nobles, "Polonia Gives Boggs a New Dimension", The New York Times, 1994-02-25, page B11 [11]
      In the second year of a three-year contract, Boggs will be 36 on June 15, but he's not ready to consider the R word—retirement.
    • 1996, Scott Bradfield, Animal Planet quoted in NYT book review
      Winter came early that year, and the animals began hearing a lot of "R" words they couldn't pronounce. Words like "recession," "redundancy" and "rationalization."
    • 2007, Paul J. Lim, "The ‘R’ Word Doesn’t Have to Be So Scary", The New York Times, 2007-12-09 online
      For investors, there are few things as scary as the “R” word. That’s because, historically, recessions have often wreaked havoc on stock portfolios.
    • 2009, Greg Bishop, "No Tears This Time: Jets quarterback cites biceps injury", The New York Times, 2009-02-12, page B13 [12]
      But never say never, friends make sure to add, knowing that Favre has tossed around the R-word frequently the last three seasons.
    • 2009, Clyde Haberman, "Democracy in New York: An Accidental Governor? Try Government: NYC", The New York Times, 2009-07-14, page A23 [13]
      When he spoke last year at the convention of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Gov. David A. Paterson complained about being a victim of racism. He didn't actually use the r-word.
    • 2013, Harvey Araton, "Federer Deserves Ovation Tour, But Not Just Yet", The New York Times, 2013-08-26 online
      The R word no doubt still sounds profane to Roger Federer, but I think I am speaking for most fans of the sport when I say: whenever the time does come for him to exit the stage, some serious advance notice would be appreciated.
    • 2013, Annie Correal, "New York Today: Round 2", The New York Times, 2013-10-22 online
      For his part, Mr. de Blasio will probably just keep using the R-word. ¶ “He seems to think the Republican brand is so damaged here in New York City that repeating that over and over is enough to prevent Lhota from picking up support,” Mr. Paulson said.