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Sense and sensitivity - Johnny Grimond

Blog | By Johnny Grimond | Jul 20, 2022


More and more words are falling subject to ‘cancel culture’. Johnny Grimond shares the following words and expressions that have been cancelled recently – or may be soon.

Abominable snowman This name seems designed to offend friends of the yeti.

Atlanta Braves Under attack from Native Americans for their foam-rubber tomahawk mascots and chopping gestures, Atlanta’s baseball team has so far resisted a name change.

Bananaland This name suggests Queensland is a banana republic, whereas it is of course a part of the constitutional monarchy of Australia.

Belgian waffle Better than double Dutch, but still undesirable and therefore offensive.

Chinaman A ball bowled with a left-arm wrist spin is unacceptable even on the cricket pitch.

Coventry Supply-chain issues now make it impossible to send anyone to Coventry.

Cuban heels Communists, maybe – heels surely not?

Dutch courage Now that gin is drunk the world over, it’s time to rethink this expression, along with ‘going Dutch’ and ‘Dutch cap’ – but perhaps not ‘Dutch auction’ (where the bidding starts high and decreases).

Danish pastry Are the raiders and marauders of Viking days really now just a bunch of sugary doughballs?

Essex girls They make all other shire girls, especially those in Wessex and Middlesex, seem plain and dull.

French cricket Now that Brexit has restored our independence, surely we should rename French cricket? French windows should also be repatriated as they are essential to all English drawing-room comedies.

French letter A slur on France’s postal service.

German measles Why blame the poor Germans for this disease?

Hamburger When mince in a bun becomes better known than the city from which it took its name, one of them needs rebranding. It’s unlikely to be the hamburger.

Hindu rate of growth Some economists attributed India’s slow economic growth before 1990 to the fatalism and contentedness of its Hindu population. Britain now has a Hindu Chancellor. Time to ditch the expression?

Indian summer Fine weather in late autumn – nothing to do with Indians, American or Asian.

Irish twins Two in 12 months suggests undue haste in procreation.

Jew’s harp Harps are best left to the Welsh.

Kansas City Chiefs Seminole war chant with tomahawk chop in football stadium equals cultural appropriation.

Low Countries Are the Netherlands and Belgium for ever doomed to inferiority?

Mexican wave Suggests Mexicans suffer from undulant indecision, not knowing when to sit and when to stand.

Newcastle’s fuel supply Needlessly carrying coals to Newcastle anachronistically implies that the city produces coal, not stotties and brown ale.

Oman This should be Operson.

Panama hats These are now made in Ecuador.

Queen of the suburbs That title went to genteel Ealing in west London. Unfair to the denizens of Morningside in Edinburgh.

Ruritania Many microstates are now threatened by rising seas. Bad taste to treat them as comic.

Spanish practices Now almost universal – unfair to link them all to Spain.

Turkey Would you want to share your name with a Christmas dish?

Ugandan discussions These seem to be endless. Unfair to Ugandans?

Victoria This Australian state became known as the Cabbage Patch because of its small size. Now it’s the Garden State, like New Jersey. The Victorians deserve better.

White Russians Where does this name leave anti-Red (anti-communist) émigrés of colour?

Xanthippe So bad-tempered that her name is a synonym for a conjugal termagant, Socrates’s menopausal wife is cruelly misjudged by ignorant men. Ripe for reassessment.

Yorkshire pudding An unambiguous slight on Yorkshire tykes.

Zurich’s gnomes The notorious speculators in currency markets should now be repurposed to enrich Swiss lawns.