Wednesday Word: Slurred Speech

Today’s Wednesday Word is a reminder to be careful about the terms we use when we speak.

I was listening to a talk show on television last evening. Truthfully, I was not paying close attention to what was being said–the program served mostly as background noise while I hung up my clothes.

That is, until I heard the speaker say,

“…but he welshed on the deal.”

Instantly, I looked up and peered at the screen.

Say what?

I was so surprised because I don’t hear that term used very often, and for good reason–because its use is considered derogatory.

Merriam-Webster defines “to welsh” (sometimes spelled “welch”) as avoiding payment or breaking one’s word. And right before Merriam-Webster’s definition appear the words, “sometimes offensive.” Surely we do not intend to slur the Welsh by using “welsh.” A far better word to use instead is “renege.”

Likewise, we should take care in those instances when the term “gyp” is used to mean “to cheat” or “to swindle.” Simply use the words “cheat” or “swindle.”

The English language is rich with evocative and easy-to-adopt words and phrases. We often adopt those words and phrases without considering the origins, or the implications when they are used. While we need not consider the etymology of every word we use, we do need to make sure our words are not used in ways that can be considered offensive. “Welsh” and “gyp” are two words you are free to delete from your vocabulary.

And that’s your Wednesday Word.

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