Skip to Main Content View Text-Only

The City of Portland, Oregon

Community & Civic Life

Promote the common good

Main: 503-823-4519

City/County Info: 503-823-4000

TDD: 503-823-6868

1221 SW 4th Ave, Suite 110, Portland, OR 97204

Subscribe to RSS feed

Most Recent

View Less

August 2017: Find a Synonym

August: Find a Synonym 

Respectful disability language is a (much!) bigger and more complex conversation than we can share in an access tip. But that doesn’t mean we can’t get started!

This month, here is a small way to be part of the movement around eliminating ableist language and creating conversations that are respectful to all:

Stop using the word crazy.

The word crazy, both historically and today, has been used to dehumanize those of us with mental health disabilities and discredit our experiences. Even when someone who uses the word claims they “aren’t talking about a person,” that word (and related ones, like insane, lunatic, mental, and psycho) are dismissing a person or idea by comparing it to a slur for mental health disability.

Not cool.

So what can we do? We can find a synonym. Often, we’re using “crazy” as a not so specific or descriptive fill-in for:

 a chaotic day,

extreme weather,

an unpredictable or unsettling situation,

a vile person,

a disgusting characteristic,

a startling event,

a ridiculous comment,

a bizarre interaction, 

and the list goes on…

By finding a synonym, we won’t be contributing to the interpersonal and systemic ableism that people with mental health disabilities navigate every day, and (bonus!) our language will become more accurate, varied, and powerful.

Pro-tip: Language is a habit, and it takes a while to change. Many times, we won’t notice right away that a word-we-use-all-the-time-but-don’t-want-to-use-anymore has slipped out. If you’ve accidentally used an ableist word, it is a great first step restate your sentence with a synonym as soon as you realize it. AND you’ll be supporting people around you to learn synonyms too.  Nice.

Looking for a way to share this idea with your friends? Check out this 30 second video to Stop the Crazy Talk.

Ready for a few more synonyms? Try 10 Phrases I’ve Stopped Saying

Cheers to new ways of speaking and thinking!

Resources from this Tip

 Stop the Crazy Talk [VIDEO]

10 Phrases I’ve Stopped Saying