3 Reasons Why Your Use of the Word “Retarded” Makes You Look Stupid

This post is about why your use of the word “retarded” actually makes you look stupid.

This is not a post about being politically correct and if you say anything about “being pc” I will reach through the computer and sprinkle legos all over your floor in the middle of the night, so don’t say I didn’t warn you.

I was humming along my Facebook feed when I came upon what started off as a really funny post about texting messages with a tattoo artist. It started off as funny, but then got old real fast when they slid down the slope of saying “are you retarded?” when the person was being completely dense and stupid, and I was left shaking my head with my face in my palm. I wasn’t angry or anything, just blown away that someone is still equating “retarded” with “stupid”.

So I’m writing a short post about why you should quit saying it, and I’m going to list them because not only do I love lists, but it’s proven that listicles do better as blog posts, and as a blogger, I’d like to see this actually read.

  1. “Retarded” Does NOT Equal “Stupid”

First of all, if you are saying the word “retarded” the way you think you want to be using it – as a pejorative to someone’s intelligence, you are wrong. “Retarded” as it used to relate to someone intelligence means “delayed.” It never meant stupid. It only meant delayed.

But that’s not even used any more.

No-one even uses it anymore, because we’ve gone beyond all that (except for some stragglers apparently). So your use of an outdated word, and your incorrect use of an outdated word to boot, makes you just look…kind of stupid.

2. Learning Disabilities or Developmental Disabilities Do Not Equal Stupid Either

Learning disabilities do not equal stupid. Developmental disabilities do not equal stupid either. Good grief, I wish I had a dollar bill for every time someone said something like, “she doesn’t have a learning disability; she’s not stupid!” or “wow! your child [with the developmental disability] is actually pretty smart..

I can’t believe we are having this conversation, or that anyone still says or thinks that a correlation between learning disabilities, developmental disabilities and stupidity exist.

I mean, we’ve watched all the movies. Forrest Gump comes immediately to mind, but there are a ton of movies (linked here) about disability. The common theme in them all is that of someone being misunderstood (and usually thought of as stupid) by dint of their disability, then the world is proven dead-wrong by the person with the disability. Amiright?  I mean, this is a THING; this is a trope, a norm – it’s all over the place with eye-rolling amounts of regularity.

And I say “eye rolling” because:

a) it’s annoying to me when we with disabilities are just not allowed to fail in movies, or we are not allowed to just be people, flaws and all. We have to be the supercrips (or super-whatever) and inspire the non-disabled.

b) it’s obvious that the trope – even used as often as it is, for whatever reason it is – is a fail for disability acceptance because people are still equating learning disabilities and developmental disabilities with stupidity!!

3. Quit Saying “Retarded” At All!

Like I said already, most of us have moved on from saying “retarded” for any reason at all anymore. Have you heard of “Spread the Word to End the Word“? There is a whole organization dedicated to getting the “r-word” off the radar once and for all. This is directly because people with developmental disabilities – who have historically been called “retarded” have asked everyone else to.

They’ve asked. We need to respond and hold up our end and find better words to use, words that actually mean what they say and say what they mean.

And if we don’t, we’re just being… stupid.

Meriah Nichols is a career counselor, teacher and blogger. Single mom to 3 (one with Down syndrome, one gifted 2E), she is also a Trekkie who likes her coffee hot and black.
Meriah on EmailMeriah on FacebookMeriah on GoogleMeriah on InstagramMeriah on LinkedinMeriah on PinterestMeriah on TwitterMeriah on Youtube


  1. i think its incredibly ignorant to be so politically correct, to insult people over a word that doesnt even have it original meaning. the word retard is now used for stupid, as in when someone makes a stupid comment or does something stupid. a person should be ousted as discriminating against some imaginary person they have never met or against the disabled, when its usually used with a friend or someone they know. this country has gotten so politically incorrect that they cry and get insulted at EVERYTHING! i am sure this will get people upset and insulted too and get deleted. of course, because the only people who can post without being censored are liberals. thats whats destroying and separating our country, the party of hate seeing hate in everything they do and everywhere they go!

    • Gary Williams Reply

      And here’s an example of a perfectly retarded statement by someone who hears her conservtive friends and associates claiming that liberals are destroying America by hating everything and everybody and so, not wanting to look like she disagrees with them, conforms to thst POV lest they think she’s (gasp!) a liberal! And ironically, believes it’s “them” (non-coneservatives, which they wrongly equate with “liberal”) who are tearing apart the social fabric of the country. Why? Because Limbaugh, Beck, Coulter and Malkin et al tell them so. How do I know this? Because anyone who really looked at the situation would quickly see that the “liberals” who are being accused of being “PC over everything” are in fact those people who attempt to correct someone who has used racist or bigoted language to describe someone based on a mistaken assumption about eg. the morality of homosexuals or a penchant for violence among those born with a different skin color than themselves.
      IOW their objection has nothing to with hate. Quite the opposite; they are attempting to reduce the fear and hatred being expressed because they know that it is based on false information the person has acquired somewhere along the line. The thinking goes that…. if the person knew that it was not true, for instance, that homosexuality increases the likelihood of a person also engaging in pedophilia, then the person would no longer feel the same disgust and/or hostility toward homosexuals as when they thought it was true — assuming of course that the person they are attempting to correct is a rational individual.
      Now. How one gets from this perfectly rational, reasonable thing the so-called “liberal” would like to do for both society as well as the bigotted individual, into an expression of hatred for both is — to put it mildly, completely effin’ baffling! At least until one takes into account the way politicians and pundits gain followers by stoking fears among readers/viewers using misinformation that leads to hatred thery can capitalize on by now claiming to be among the few politicians or political pundits “who agrees with all you patriotic, God-fearing Americans”, hoping they are too retarded (yes, that was intentional) to realize that it was them that they got the mistaken belief from in the first place….so of course they “agree” with them!

      Or, if that was too esoteric for you to follow, then how about this: The vast majority of the time someone complains about someone being “too PC”, the person is actually just trying to deflect attention away from their own racist statements onto the persons attempting to correct them. Period.

      • Oui Sofa-King Reply

        Perhaps the “liberals” concern with Political Correctness is born from good intentions, and initially are free from hate. Yet, they strive with such diligence to bring about change, and their focus tends to grow so narrow and time-consuming that they create a breeding ground for hatred, and what what was originally conjured from desire for improvement, tends to quickly turn to being fueled by hate. They may still possess good intentions, but they inevitably become enraged with hate. If you can not see that, then you have selective sight. I can sense quite a bit of hatred in your comment, and even more which you were striving to contain. Stop subscribing to the false left-right political paradigm. Each side believes they are the logical ones with the correct perspectives, allowing them to know what is best for everyone. Yet, both sides have been brainwashed to believe they are right and the other side is not only wrong, but ignorant, oblivious, illogical, and plain crazy. What everyone needs to do is to stop being brainwashed and manipulated into a perspective which only exists to divide us, maintain said division, and to increase hatred until it reaches the boiling point . . . we are extremely close to that point currently, and it is definitely something we do not want to reach, because when all is said and done, neither “side” will care for the results and both will yearn to return to a previous state which shall no longer be possible. Stop focusing on the differences, this only breeds hate, and begin to realize the similarities . . . only then shall we be able to unite to fight our true enemies, then conditions can and will improve for everyone. We must learn to recognize this systematic institution of divide and conquer, and free ourselves from the strings of the puppet-masters.

  2. Casey Benton Reply

    I’m tired of PC in ALL it’s forms. Including this one…..
    I use the words retard and retarded from time to time to describe ignorance and stupid as the word has come to have these understandings with the general public in 2018.
    I will not apologize for using my native tongue or the always changing American English language the way I see fit. You, Meriah Nichols have now called me stupid looking. I’m not happy with this, but you can be mean to me if you want to. You see, I was raised to have a tough skin and to know that regardless of what people call me, it’s up to me to make myself happy. (something many people in America have obviously missed out on)
    Now perhaps you can go back and see how every angle of something can be turned into a PC problem or attack on another person.

    • I”m not being mean; I am simply stating a fact. Not using a word in the way it should be is simply ignorant and your refusal to educated yourself is your choice.

      • I think its rather ignorant to completely disregard lexical change within language. From the very start of language words and their meanings have changed. do you really think stupid actually used to mean stupid? – I partially agree with your defense (regarding Retarded meaning slow rather than stupid) but this also means you are disregarding the context in which the word is communicated (including body language etc) which could further alter its meaning within that specific context.

        Basically language is a fluid creature in which both semantic and lexical change occurs – changing both meanings and potency of meaning of words (one such example would be the word ‘gay’.

      • I agree that we shouldn’t call those with mental disabilities retarded, that’s just a given. But I feel that using it out of context would help to dissociate it with its negative past. Have words not evolved in the past to mean different things? Gay used to mean happy, now it means homosexual. I mean, look at the n-word. That word has long been outlawed by social construct, but it’s been recently repopularized through black rap artists in a different light. From what I understand, they use it in certain contexts to alter the negative connotations and turn that negativity into empowerment. It hasn’t reach a point where it’s socially acceptable for a white man to use it, but you cannot deny that its part of our pop culture. It’s a similar story with the word faggot. I think Louis C.K. puts it best: “back when I was a kid, faggot didn’t mean gay, you’d call someone a faggot because they were being a faggot”. If that’s not enough, look to urban dictionary. That’s the epitome of word evolution.
        You can’t change the past, and you shouldn’t forget the past, but that doesn’t mean you can’t reinvent the past; give new meaning to old words. After all, it’s not like it’s going anywhere; ‘Ritardando’ has and will always be a musical dynamic marking, so if the goal is to eventually drown the word in total obscurity, that will simply never happen. That’s just my two cents on the whole thing. Words are words, some hurt, and others don’t. We need both in order to best articulate our thoughts and feelings. Again, I would never call a mentally challenged person retarded, but I will call someone who did something beyond stupid, (provided I know them well enough) because that’s what the word means now. Crap is to stupid as shit is to retard. And if you want to replace the r word with dumbass, well, that doesn’t really cut it either. Its too soft. The r word has the agressive t and d, dumbass has a regressive b. It’s not the same, and it doesn’t feel the same.
        I’m not necessarily condoning the use of the word, but I feel removing it from our vocabulary is going too far. I don’t mean to start any beef, i’m just stating MY thoughts on the matter.

    • Oui Sofa-King Reply

      Hear, hear!

      The word “retard” as a verb means to hold back or to delay. The word as a noun refers to a child whose mental development is delayed (retarded mental development). The writer claims that “retarded” does not equate to “stupid”. Yet, referring to Dictionary.com, sense 1 of the definition of “stupid” is “lacking ordinary quickness and keenness of mind; dull.” Merriam-Webster’s definition as worded by sense 1a is “slow of mind.” By definition alone, “retarded” can mean “stupid”.

      Unfortunately, people misuse words frequently. An overwhelming majority of people misuse words because they falsely believe the definitions of these words to be something other than what they actually are. Beyond these misused words, there are numerous words in our language of which most people are completely unaware. That’s a significant portion of our language which most people never utilize or rarely utilize correctly. That can, and does, create problems, but elimination is not an acceptable nor feasible solution. “Moron”, “Imbecile”, “Cretin”, and “idiot” were all medical terms until concerns regarding their potential offensiveness lead to their discontinuation. These “offensive” words were then replaced with the medical terms “retard” and “retarded”. Now, we are being informed that “retard” and “retarded” are offensive words which we should eliminate from our vocabulary. If we acted upon the author’s advice and ceased using offensive words (along with the words of which the majority are simply unaware), then we would effectively cut our potential vocabulary in half. I guess on the bright side, offensive words would then cease to exist, and no longer shall our quivers be filled with offensiveness to sling like arrows towards our enemies. As the only constant is change, this newly created state would lack permanence. Most assuredly with time, the roots of offensiveness will discover fertile ground in which to sprout, and in growth shall eventually infect our language, to replicate, and to spread its immaculate evil throughout. Once again, the result shall be a minority demanding that a verbal purge is imperative, Ultimately, our language shall be abridged, suffering another wound. Likewise, our ability to think analytically and to communicate effectively shall be diminished even further. This vicious cycle won’t end until our language has been reduced to tiny mounds of useless dreck.

      People need to look in the mirror more often and point their finger less. It would appear as if the cognitive awareness of the author may be abnormally limited . . . or to utilize a more acceptable wording, thus allowing the pampered to avoid most of the sensitivity which often accompanies the digestion of reality: the author displays elements which suggest the presence of a learning disability. What other plausible explanation can exist for one who writes a preface to a persuasion article solely as an attempt to negate the article itself.

      I will be damned if I would allow someone to dictate to me what I can or can not say. I would rather die on my feet!

  3. InsultMaster Reply

    Calling someone stupid/dumb/lame/etc isn’t PC either. In fact insulting someone with ANY insult is wrong, but that’s why we do it. We insult people to hurt them on purpose. Complaining about it just makes you sound retarded.

  4. Gary Williams Reply

    Are you actually trying to make the case based on the fact that there is no correlation between having a learning disability and a low IQ (i.e. being “stupid”)? There mpost certainly is a strong, positive correlation between the two traits. Why? Because it is a causal relationship; meaning the presence of one *causes* the other. To try and argue otherwise is, well….

  5. Gary Williams Reply

    ….and besides, stupidity has a retarding effect on one’s I.Q. not to mention their social and emotional maturity when compared to others sharing the same chronological age/maturity. So there’s the use of terms “stupid” and “retard” using definitions as they are found in Webster’s.

  6. This article was 100% posted by someone who is retarded or related to someone retarded (i.e. its in their genetics)

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