225 Substitutes for the R-Word

1
You Don't Really Need to Use the R-Word

Be a Fan of Respect
Image courtesy of special Olympics

Often, when asked not to use the R-word, defensive speakers will reply, "You can't say anything these days!" But people, that's just a failure of imagination. Many, many, many substitutes for that offensive slur against individuals with intellectual disabilities are just a thesaurus away. In fact, I'll make it even easier than that -- in these pages, I'll share 225 words that can easily stand in for the R-word and make your vocabulary less limited.

For some thoughts as to why this is important, view the PSAs created by the Special Olympics R-word campaign at r-word.org. While you're there, take the pledge to stop using the R-word and grab a graphic like the one above to spread the word.

2
"I am such a ______________"

First, a selection of words to substitute for the R-word when you want to be self-deprecating. Fill in the blank with one of the 75 choices below.

"I am such a(n) ______________"

  1. airhead
  2. birdbrain
  3. blockhead
  4. blunderer
  5. bonehead
  6. boob
  7. bubblehead
  8. buffoon
  9. bungler
  10. butterfingers
  11. child
  12. chowderhead
  13. chucklehead
  14. clod
  15. clodhopper
  16. clown
  17. crackpot
  18. cuckoo
  19. damn-fool
  20. dim bulb
  21. dimwit
  22. ding-a-ling
  23. ding-dong
  24. dingbat
  25. dip
  26. dipstick
  27. dodo
  28. donkey
  29. doofus
  30. dope
  31. dolt
  32. dork
  33. dullard
  34. dumbbell
  35. dum-dum
  36. dunce
  37. dunderhead
  38. fathead
  39. featherhead
  40. fool
  41. goof
  42. goofball
  43. goose
  44. ignoramus
  45. incompetent
  46. jerk
  47. joke
  48. jughead
  49. know-nothing
  50. kook
  51. lamebrain
  52. lightweight
  53. loser
  54. lowbrow
  55. lummox
  56. lump
  57. lunkhead
  58. meathead
  59. nincompoop
  60. ninny
  61. nitwit
  62. noob
  63. numskull
  64. oaf
  65. ox
  66. pudding head
  67. scatterbrain
  68. schlub
  69. schnook
  70. screwball
  71. slug
  72. turkey
  73. yahoo
  74. yokel
  75. yo-yo

But what if you want to insult someone else's actions or acuity instead? The words above might do, yet you're certainly not limited to them.

3
"You're so ______________."

The R-word plus -ed often seems like an indispensable adjective to those unwilling to stretch their vocabularies, but in fact there are many many other ways to brand someone as foolish in their actions without slurring individuals with intellectual disabilities. Try these 75 on for size:

  1. absent-minded
  2. addled
  3. addleheaded
  4. airheaded
  5. anile
  6. birdbrained
  7. blockheaded
  8. blundering
  9. boneheaded
  10. boobish
  11. brainless
  12. bubbleheaded
  13. buffoonish
  14. chowderheaded
  15. chuckleheaded
  16. clownish
  17. clueless
  18. cracked
  19. cuckoo
  20. daffy
  21. daft
  22. dense
  23. dim
  24. dimwitted
  25. doltish
  26. dotty
  27. dull
  28. dunderheaded
  29. empty-headed
  30. fatuous
  31. featherheaded
  32. flighty
  33. foolish
  34. giddy
  35. green
  36. gullible
  37. helpless
  38. hopeless
  39. ignorant
  40. in the dark
  41. incompetent
  42. ineffectual
  43. insensate
  44. irrational
  45. jerkish
  46. jugheaded
  47. knuckleheaded
  48. kooky
  49. lamebrained
  50. laughable
  51. light-headed
  52. lumpish
  53. lunkheaded
  54. misguided
  55. naïve
  56. oafish
  57. obtuse
  58. out to lunch
  59. punch-drunk
  60. scatterbrained
  61. shallow-brained
  62. shortshighted
  63. sluggish
  64. stolid
  65. stupefied
  66. thick
  67. thick-headed
  68. thick-witted
  69. unsmart
  70. useless
  71. vacuous
  72. vapid
  73. witless
  74. woodenheaded
  75. yokel-like

But perhaps what you wish to do is mock the witlessness of a place or thing instead of a person. Many of the 150 words listed so far will do, and yet there are many more options with which you can add both compassion and variety to your speech. 

4
"This is ______________."

Is an activity or item not up to the level of coolness or usefulness that you might wish? Using the R-word to describe it isn't particularly cool either. Try one of these 75 options instead, and you'll be considerably less clueless:

  1. absurd
  2. amateur-hour
  3. amateurish
  4. asinine
  5. awkward
  6. backward
  7. bizarro
  8. boring
  9. brainless
  10. childish
  11. cliched
  12. cockeyed
  13. common
  14. cornball
  15. dippy
  16. doltish
  17. dopey
  18. dorky
  19. dumb
  20. fallacious
  21. fanciful
  22. farcical
  23. foolish
  24. frivolous
  25. futile
  26. goofy
  27. hackneyed
  28. half-baked
  29. harebrained
  30. hokey
  31. ill-advised
  32. illogical
  33. immature
  34. implausible
  35. inadequate
  36. inane
  37. insipid
  38. invalid
  39. irrational
  40. irrelevant
  41. kooky
  42. laughable
  43. lowbrow
  44. ludicrous
  45. meaningless
  46. mindless
  47. mundane
  48. nonsensical
  49. nutty
  50. obscure
  51. old hat
  52. opaque
  53. outlandish
  54. peculiar
  55. pedestrian
  56. plebeian
  57. pointless
  58. preposterous
  59. puerile
  60. ridiculous
  61. sappy
  62. screwball
  63. screwy
  64. senseless
  65. silly
  66. sophomoric
  67. thoughtless
  68. tomfoolery
  69. trite
  70. trivial
  71. unreasonable
  72. unwise
  73. wacky
  74. way-out
  75. zany

Now that you have 225 ways not to use the R-word, stop by r-word.org and, if you haven't already, make that pledge to remove this awkward slur from your speech.

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