characters using slurs that the author can't say


There are ways to communicate immaturity or bigotry besides using controversial words.

Watch “Man in the High Castle.” It’s an alternate history where Germany won the war and the Holocaust never ended. But when the Nazis refer to Jews, they don’t use the k-word that would get bleeped. They say “Semites.” Which is technically correct and not a slur in real life. But they say it with such a sneer, and in such dehumanizing sentences, that you know it’s an insult.


You’re not going to get a pass from an entire marginalized community to use struggles that are not your own in your fiction, but choosing to use those struggles is inviting criticism if you wield them inappropriately despite your best intentions and efforts. Write your piece and listen to your critics with an open mind.


Then I guess I’m ignorant. But coming from that ignorance, I presume you’d rather see me use that term inaccurately than resort to a slur that might offend you?


Nah. If it fits with the story and/or narrative to use “faggot” then use it.

But if the narrative is making it sound cool and alright to call someone that, then I’d have a problem. But there would probably be way more problems than just the word choice. I can imagine there’d be a underlying homophobic narrative that doesn’t realise it’s homopbobic.


Ok i have to share one thing ENTIRELY not related…because you mentioned the slur that is horrific in the US but has a diff meaning in archaic english and in the UK. I was in Prague and the hostel I was at had a sign:

"Please do not through your f*gs out the window. The neighbors complain"

They of course meant “cigarettes” but as an american… the sign made it sound like people were throwing gay guys :sweat_smile: Sorry just always interested in semiotics and what it can bring in terms of misinterpretations of meanings hehe


Hahaha, yeah, I mean, when I speak English, I refer to cigarettes as “fags” too. (Wooh, Scotland!)

Which makes the sentence “Can I bum a fag?” real funny in an American context. :joy:

But “fag” is also a slur here. So it’s all about context for that one.


I still remember reading it and having an image of some poor guys getting thrown from the window. I knew what they meant but in american english that SO does not translate hehe


Tell me about it. I used it in a series and there has been some very interesting comments to say the least.

Though I had more comments about my use of “aeroplane” rather than “airplane” :thinking:


I also use the term “bundle of faggots” in my fantasy novel. Of course that means " bundle of sticks" but it is def interesting how words change in meaning. I actually dont even know how that came to be a slur for gay people


Wait, doesn’t “faggot” mean bundle of sticks? So a bundle of faggots would be a bundle of a bundle of sticks?

I also just remembered: fag in Danish means “subject” or “course” in English. This gives a whole new meaning to “fagfolk” (someone who is expert in a certain subject)


Yeah its an older english term




plural noun: faggots


a male homosexual.

a bundle of sticks or twigs bound together as fuel.


Yeah. Which really only makes the slur even worse when you know the context. :confused:


In my fantasy story the books of my MC’s faith say that a traitor was bound on a pile of faggots and burned. I used the term cause it makes it sound like older text but i did wonder if people would get it.

Sorry im still missing it, why is sticks related to gay men as a slur? or s it the implication you would burn them?


XD this reminds me of “The Los Angeles Angles” (you know, the baseball team?) because if translated from Spanish, it’s

“The the angles angles”


wiki to the rescue


The American slang term is first recorded in 1914, the shortened form fag shortly after, in 1921.[8] Its immediate origin is unclear, but it is based on the word for “bundle of sticks”, ultimately derived, via Old French, Italian and Vulgar Latin, from Latin fascis .[8][9]

The word faggot has been used in English since the late 16th century as an abusive term for women, particularly old women,[9] and reference to homosexuality may derive from this,[8][10] as female terms are often used with reference to homosexual or effeminate men (cf. nancy , sissy , queen ). The application of the term to old women is possibly a shortening of the term “faggot-gatherer”, applied in the 19th century to people, especially older widows, who made a meager living by gathering and selling firewood.[10] It may also derive from the sense of “something awkward to be carried” (compare the use of the word baggage as a pejorative term for old people in general).[8]

An alternative possibility is that the word is connected with the practice of fagging in British private schools, in which younger boys performed (potentially sexual) duties for older boys, although the word faggot was never used in this context, only fag . There is a reference to the word faggot being used in 17th-century Britain to refer to a “man hired into military service simply to fill out the ranks at muster”, but there is no known connection with the word’s modern pejorative usage.[8]

The Yiddish word faygele , lit. “little bird”, has been claimed by some to be related to the American usage. The similarity between the two words makes it possible that it might at least have had a reinforcing effect.[8][10]

There is an urban legend, called an “oft-reprinted assertion” by Douglas Harper, that the modern slang meaning developed from the standard meaning of faggot as “bundle of sticks for burning” with regard to burning at the stake. This is unsubstantiated; the emergence of the slang term in 20th-century American English is unrelated to historical death penalties for homosexuality.[8]


so yep… its possible its a reference to burning them :-/ ( though maybe not?)


It’s the implication that you should burn them - or that they’re good for kindling a bonfire.

@edoggypaws hahaha, it’s the same with The Sahara Desert. “Sahara” means desert. So it’s The Desert Desert.


According to wki that might not be accurate but yeah i caught that as I questioned the why…


That’s what I’ve been told anyways. I did ask around when I moved to Scotland because I knew it was a slur, but then why were ciggies referred to as fags as well?

Because cigarettes, sticks and apparently gay people are good for burning.

Hurray. :frowning_face:


To the Etymology Dictionary! ------->

faggot (n.1)

late 13c., “bundle of twigs bound up,” also fagald, faggald, from Old French fagot “bundle of sticks” (13c.), of uncertain origin, probably from Italian fagotto “bundle of sticks,” diminutive of Vulgar Latin *facus, from Latin fascis “bundle of wood” (see fasces). But another theory traces the Vulgar Latin word to Greek phakelos “bundle,” which is probably Pre-Greek.

Especially used for burning heretics (emblematic of this from 1550s), so that phrase fire and faggotwas used to indicate “punishment of a heretic.” Heretics who recanted were required to wear an embroidered figure of a faggot on the sleeve as an emblem and reminder of what they deserved.

Faggots, the traditional British dish made from the innards of pigs (liver, lungs, heart, spleen) mixed with bread crumbs, rolled in balls, and braised in stock (1851) apparently is the same word, presumably from the notion of “little bits and pieces bound up together.”

faggot (n.2)

“male homosexual,” 1914, American English slang, probably from earlier contemptuous term for “woman” (1590s), especially an old and unpleasant one, in reference to faggot (n.1) “bundle of sticks,” as something awkward that has to be carried (compare baggage “worthless woman,” 1590s). It may also be reinforced by Yiddish faygele “homosexual” (n.), literally “little bird.” It also may have roots in British public school slang noun fag “a junior who does certain duties for a senior” (1785), with suggestions of “catamite,” from fag (v.). This also spun off a verb (see fag (v.2).

He [the prefect] used to fag me to blow the chapel organ for him. [“Boy’s Own Paper,” 1889]

Other obsolete British senses of faggot were “man hired into military service merely to fill out the ranks at muster” (1700) and “vote manufactured for party purposes” (1817).

The explanation that male homosexuals were called faggots because they were burned at the stake as punishment is an etymological urban legend. Burning sometimes was a punishment meted out to homosexuals in Christian Europe (on the suggestion of the Biblical fate of Sodom and Gomorrah), but in England, where parliament had made homosexuality a capital offense in 1533, hanging was the method prescribed. Use of faggot in connection with public executions had long been obscure English historical trivia by the time the word began to be used for “male homosexual” in 20th century American slang, whereas the contemptuous slang word for “woman” (in common with the other possible sources or influences listed here) was in active use early 20c., by D.H. Lawrence and James Joyce, among others.