A pejorative (also called a derogatory term, a slur, a term of abuse, or a term of disparagement) is a word or grammatical form expressing a negative connotation or a low opinion of someone or something, showing a lack of respect for someone or something. It is also used to express criticism, hostility, or disregard. A term can be regarded as pejorative in some social or cultural groups but not in others. Sometimes, a term may begin as a pejorative and eventually be adopted in a non-pejorative sense (or vice versa) in some or all contexts.
Name slurs can also involve an insulting or disparaging innuendo, rather than being a direct pejorative. In some cases, a person's name can be redefined with an unpleasant or insulting meaning, or be applied to a group of people considered by anyone to be inferior or lower in social class, as a group label with a disparaging meaning.
When a term begins as pejorative and eventually is adopted in a non-pejorative sense, this is called "melioration" in historical linguistics. It may also be called amelioration, reclaiming, or semantic change. Some examples of melioration are "punk", "dude" and "nerd".
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- "Pejorative (adj.)". Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved October 16, 2016.
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- Croom, Adam M. "Slurs." Language Sciences, Volume 33, Number 3, May 2011, pp. 343-358. Published by Elsevier.
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