I was chatting to another blogger in a comment section the other day – I can’t remember whether it was their post or mine – and we vaguely touched on the topic of trigger words.

What I mean by a trigger word is just something that somebody will use, most likely inadvertently, but which lights our fuse.

I have been on both sides of this.

I was once talking to somebody, the subject must have been the military, and I used the word squaddie. Now, as far as I was/am concerned, this is a standard, slang word in UK English to refer to a serviceman. It is not offensive, not as far as I am concerned. Anybody from a private to a general, to a sailor, to an airman could legitimately be called a squaddie. But this chap was upset that I used the word. I didn’t (don’t) understand why he was upset, but I understood that he was upset, so I used a different word with him thereafter. I mean, I didn’t really see any point in winding this chap up unnecessarily.

Then, after my stroke, the very last thing I wanted was to be labelled a victim. Actually, that is quite common among stroke survivors. There is a feeling that shit happens, but somebody then chooses to be a victim of it or not, i.e. whether they let it change them.

But I notice that this feeling is not universal, though. Not really talking about stroke survivors now, but I have met other people to whom shit has happened, and who will quite happily self-identify as being a victim of something.

I mean, mostly it doesn’t really bother me. I think people use such words because they are ignorant that the word causes offence, not because they’re malicious. I think you have to go beyond the word itself, and look at the intent behind it. As an example, not so very long ago here, it was acceptable in society to refer to a black person as coloured, and I think most people would have used that word, without intending any malice. Over time, people have realised that use of this word is offensive, and it is no longer used today. But I don’t think people ever used the word out of malice.

Having said that, when people do use trigger words, especially common trigger words which are known to cause offence to some people, I do sometimes look at them and wonder shouldn’t they know better?

Any of you guys have trigger words?


  1. I try to be careful about certain terms, only because other people have told me they find them offensive,
    But I personally don’t take offence at much accept obviously degrading terms, If someone were to use slanderous terms for example. But I sometimes I was the victim of a crime. I don’t know how else to describe it. Somebody told me I am not a victim, I am a survivor. But that does not feel accurate in my mind. I suffered, therefore I was a victim. What I have done since that night and how I have dealt with the challenges it caused me is a separate subject and I would be more than happy for someone to infer that overall I have been victorious. But in the case of what was done to me by a stranger, a criminal…I am happy to state that I was the victim, he was the perpetrator.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It is funny, one of thee words I discussed with the other blogger was the use of the word “suffer”. Theey didn’t like it, but I will freely use that word about me. For your exact reason – that there is probably no othr way to describe it.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. In the mental health community this subject can be a hot topic. I sometimes do care and sometimes don’t. Words can be triggering but still you can’t control another persons mind and speech. When a whole group of people indicate that it’s not ok, I fully try to understand and to adapt. Because I am not a person of colour, therefore I don’t know their battles and I will try to follow how they want to be addressed. When I’m not fully aware, I will apologize for possible mistakes, but I don’t use offensive words on purpose.
    With mental health, my niche, that maybe different. People sometimes say you need to say ‘I am a person with depression’ and not: ‘I suffer from depression’. Well, I do suffer and I also call it that way. I’ll say ‘I have a depression’ but I don’t use ‘I am depressed’ much because I don’t feel that the depression needs to consume my whole identity. For me I can only set an example by using the terminology that I use and I can only hope people will use that with me too.
    I think speaking with people you also need to feel the intention, leave room for clarification and improvement. To speak your mind needs to be the most important thing and the ‘best’ words used we will learn along the way.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That makes perfect sense. In fact, it was the word “suffer” which started us off the other day. Caramel also made the point in her comment that some words are pretty unavoidable – we can’t reasonably expect people not to use them.

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s