I’ve had similar experiences with the “Jew down” expression, Doug. I learned as a child not to use it, mainly because one of my father’s best friends and role models was Jewish. So, as a family we were sensitive to antisemitism.

However, I continued using “to gyp” for “to cheat” well into my adulthood, having no clue that it was a slur against Romany gypsies.

It is funny how strongly people get invested in their traditional vocabularies. I have also experienced people being very emotional and resisting change even when the word origins are pointed out to them.


Writer. Runner. Marine. Airman. Former LGBTQ and HIV activist. Former ActUpNY and Queer Nation. Polyglot. Middle-aged, uppity faggot. jamesfinnwrites@gmail.com

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