Is the word "retarded" still acceptable?

In other English speaking countries is the word retarded still used for people with intellectual disabilities? I know people use the word retarded but is it considered correct to do so or impolite?
I came across this poem the other day, and I like it I just don’t think someone writing the poem now (in this country at the very least would used the the term retarded).

My wife works in the mental health field, and over the years it’s gotten ridiculous. She had to refer to them as clients not so long ago. Ok. Fast forward a few years, you had to call them individuals. Today, don’t get caught calling them anything but persons, as in, “I work in a group home, and had to take a person to the doctor”, or whatever, or you’ll be written up.

Retarded? Hell no. Remember the “niggardly” debate of a few years back? What’s happening to the King’s English? So pointless, but not much you can do if you want to get along, I guess.

Mentally retarded is still the official label for that particular disability, at least in Special Education (at least according to my professors; that is also what it is called at my wife’s school). Often shortened to “MR”.

In the early-'90s my g/f’s boss’s child wasn’t retarded. He was ‘delayed’.

At my son’s school, the label is “mentally handicapped”, or “mentally disabled.” The use of the word “retarded” is discouraged.

BS. Delayed is when your plane is late, or you’re caught in traffic. Down with PC euphemistic speak dancing.


Let’s try to keep this as factual as possible. I think it’s best to focus on what official policies are on the use of the word, not people’s personal opinions about it.

General Questions Moderator

The "Euphemism Treadmill"is an interesting phenomenon, fourth paragraph from the top.

Its heavily discouraged , but reality is that its still heavily in use on the street.


What exactly do you think the original meaning of “retarded” was?

Special and exceptional are now in use. When I was young, those terms indicated high mental ability.

When my Mother was working at a hospital’s Psych Ward (in New Zealand), the term du jour was “Intellectually Handicapped” or more commonly “IH”. This was ten years ago, so it may very well have changed again, as it is wont to do.

I get very tired of all this political correctness about obvious handicaps. Hell, I’ve been corrected for using the word ‘handicapped’.
My cousin had a boy who was mildly retarded. I never met him until he was in his 20’s and I came away believing that his biggest handicap was my cousin. She had babied this kid and played up his handicap to the point where he couldn’t function w/o her, yet she was the first to critisize if someone used, what she deemed, inappropriate terminology. Such a waste, this kid could have learned to be independent and function quite well if he had been challenged, instead of coddled.
I’ve got a “zipper” in my forehead, it runs from the inside of my right eyebrow up to my hairline. I also have a large skin graft on my left lower leg, both from an auto accident in the early 70’s. Now I realize that these are very minor compared w/ other disfigurements, but I get asked about them from time to time and I don’t find it offensive, I can understand the curiosity and I just answer the person.

well I still use the word retarded but a lot of people find it offensive, of course they don’t seem to have the same problem with moron or idiot even though both of those are terms used in the past to describe…retarded people.

I don’t know if thats helpful but thats the kind of crap you will get from the pc crowd.

The AAMR (American Association of the Mentally Retarded) only changed their name to AAIDD (American Association of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities) very recently; in February of this year. Linky.

Like I said, the term is still in use in Special Education settings. It’s perfectly descriptive, whatever stigma has been attached by misuse.

This whole thread is just so gay. :frowning:

I’m going to have to report that to a moderator.

Oh, wait a minute.

Moron, idiot, and imbecile used to have medical meanings that indicated the severity of the individual’s mental retardation. See Henry H. Goddard. I remember seeing them used in that way in an old physical anthropology textbook.

As soon as any word starts getting used as an insult or changes meaning in popular parlance, then it’s time to change it where its usage was more descriptive. If I see a good reason for a change, such as that, I have no problem with it happening. It’s when they change a term for no reason other than some perceived political correctness issue that isn’t really necessary that bothers me.

Perceiving them to have been changed for no reason other than political correctness, when there might have been other valid reasons for a change, can also be a problem. The move to more accurate descriptive terms such as ‘mentally handicapped’, ‘intellectual difficulties’ or ‘learning difficulties’ (the British variant) might have happened even if nobody had any particular concerns about the (mis)use of ‘retarded’, only that it was not particularly meaningful or helpful in many cases.