politically correct

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English[edit]

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Etymology[edit]

The earliest known attestation is in late 18th century United States, in response to a toast made to "the United States" instead of to "the people of the United States".[1]

In the early twentieth century the term was associated with the dogmatic application of Stalinist and Communist Party doctrine. This sense was later popularised by Mao Zedong in his 1963 essay "Where Do Correct Ideas Come From?" which equated "correct" with "the disciplined acceptance of a party line."[1]

In the 1970s it was adopted by wider left-wing politics. The first known use in this sense was by Toni Cade in her 1970 anthology The Black Woman. It was subsequently used in a statement by Karen DeCrow in December 1975 in her capacity as president of the National Organization for Women.[1]

In the 1980s it acquired the pejorative sense when used to mock conformist liberal academics, their stereotypical political views and alleged attempts to control language.[1]

Adjective[edit]

politically correct ‎(comparative more politically correct, superlative most politically correct)

  1. (politics) Possessing or conforming to the correct political positions; following the official policies of the government or a political party.
    • 1793, U.S. Supreme Court, Chisholm v State of GA, 2 US 419 (1793)
      Sentiments and expressions of this inaccurate kind prevail in our common, even in our convivial, language. Is a toast asked? ‘The United States’, instead of the ‘People of the United States’, is the toast given. This is not politically correct.
    • 1964 March 23, Lyndon B. Johnson, Remarks in Atlantic City at the Convention of the United Auto Workers:
      I am here to tell you that we are going to do those things which need to be done, not because they are politically correct, but because they are right. We are going to pass a civil rights bill if it takes all summer.
    • 1969, Sopin, Y. F., chapter 5, in The Bolshevik Party's Struggle Against Trotskyism[1], page 214:
      Lenin gave an all-round substantiation of the impossibility of implementing the United States of Europe slogan under capitalism. He said this slogan merged with socialism and acquired political meaning only under socialism. It was politically correct also from the standpoint of the need to overthrow the three reactionary monarchies of Europe—that of Russia, of Germany and of Austria-Hungary.
  2. (idiomatic, now chiefly in conservative discourse and pejorative) Respectful of and avoiding offending certain genders, ethnicities, sexualities and/or other demographics.
    • 1970, Cade, Toni, The Black Woman:
      A man cannot be politically correct and a chauvinist too.
    • 1981 December 14, G:kirk, “Yet Another Camel Joke”, in net.jokes, Usenet[2], message-ID <anews.Apopuli.106>:
      Why do they call camels "Ships-of-the-desert" ?
      [...]
      Because they're full of Iranian seamen.
      (NOW, being politically correct you must, of course, substitute "martian"
      What a clever joke this becomes! Hopefully, there are no martians listening. )
  3. (idiomatic, politics, pejorative) Possessing stereotypical left-wing social views.
    • 2007 May 3, Henninger, Daniel, “After Imus: End the Executions”, in Wall Street Journal[3]:
      Don Imus, Bernard McGuirk, Trent Lott, Larry Summers, the Duke lacrosse team, Jimmy the Greek, the kid who yelled "water buffalo" at Penn, Howard Cosell, Jon Stewart, Chief Illiniwek, Jackie Mason and "South Park" all have in common only one thing: They have not been Politically Correct.

Usage notes[edit]

While "politically correct" frequently refers to a linguistic phenomenon, it is sometimes extended to cover political ideology and behavior, curriculum content, and many areas affected by law, regulation, and public pressure.

Synonyms[edit]

Antonyms[edit]

Derived terms[edit]

Translations[edit]

Verb[edit]

politically correct ‎(third-person singular simple present politically corrects, present participle politically correcting, simple past and past participle politically corrected)

  1. (transitive) To modify in a way that is more respectful to minorities.
    • 1998, McQueen, Humphrey, Temper Democratic: How Exceptional is Australia?, Wakefield Press, ISBN 9781862544666, page 190:
      There is nothing new or progressive in the politically corrected vocabularies that now amuse the prejudiced.
    • 2005, Fatum, Lone, “Christ Domesticated”, in Jostein Ådna, editor, The Formation of the Early Church, Mohr Siebeck, ISBN 9783161485619, page 196:
      Thus, although Pastoral Paul contradicts, updates, and politically corrects Paul of the authentic letters in accordance with the horizontalized, non-sectarian interest of the Pastorals, he does this as an extension of a decidedly this-worldly, conservative paraenesis which may be seen as Paul's own contradiction of his apocalyptic eschatological interpretation.
    • 2016 February 26, Brantley, Ben, “Review: You See ‘The Encounter’ With Your Ears”, in New York Times[4]:
      Yet we follow McIntyre into the jungles as eagerly as if we were children lost in an adventure novel by (a politically corrected) H. Rider Haggard.
  2. (transitive) To modify in a way that conforms more to the official position of a government or political party.
    • 2013, Fischer, Andrew Martin, “Preface”, in The Disempowered Development of Tibet in China, Lexington Books, ISBN 9780739134399, page xxxiv:
      Even a senior Chinese scholar-official who had been politically correcting my arguments and opinions throughout the conference smiled and accepted that the academic standards to which we both had to comply were quite different—I would be ridiculed by my own colleagues were I to adopt the standards of China, which he nonetheless deemed the (officially sanctioned) correct ones.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Safire, William (2008) Safire's Political Dictionary, Oxford University Press, ISBN 9780195343342, pages 555–556