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A pejorative[1] (also term of abuse or derogatory term) is a word or grammatical form that connotes negativity and expresses contempt or distaste. A term can be regarded as pejorative in some social or cultural groups but not in others, e.g., "hacker" is a term used for computer criminals as well as quick and clever computer experts. Sometimes a term may begin as a pejorative and eventually be adopted in a non-pejorative sense in some or all contexts, e.g., "punk". In historical linguistics, this phenomenon is known as melioration, or amelioration, reclaiming, or semantic change.[2]

Name slurs can also involve an insulting or disparaging innuendo,[3] rather than being a direct derogatory remark. In some cases, a person's name can be redefined with an unpleasant or insulting meaning, or applied to a group of people considered to be inferior or lower in social class, as a group label with a disparaging meaning. Also, an ethnic slur or racial slur can be used as a pejorative to imply people of those groups are inferior or deficient.

See also[]


  1. Pejorative | Define Pejorative at URL accessed on 2012-04-25.
  2. Croom, Adam M. (May 2011). Slurs. Language Sciences 33 (3): 343–358.
  3. Slur - Definition and More from the Free Merriam-Webster Dictionary. URL accessed on 2012-04-25.

Further reading[]

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