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What do you think about the term “grammar Nazi?”

Grammar Nazi refers to someone who likes to correct every little mistake in other people’s grammar.  I admit I’ve used the term a few times without really thinking about the implication behind it.  But the last time I was about to use it in writing, I paused to think about whether it’s appropriate or not.  I decided if there’s a chance people might be offended then I should err on the safe side, so I opted for the term “grammar perfectionist” instead.  I think “grammar police” is also a good alternative. <o:p></o:p>

Have you ever used the term “grammar Nazi?”  Do you think it’s insensitive and trivializes something serious?  Or do you think it’s obviously an exaggeration and therefore shouldn’t be taken too seriously?

May 6, 2018 11:17 AM
Comments · 19

To my US native ear, "grammar police" works well. People who make rules about what employees can and can't do in their cubicles (e.g. no binders or any other object projecting above the top of the partition) are sometimes called "the furniture police." People who like to criticize others for wearing clashing colors are sometimes called "the fashion police."

"Grammar perfectionist" is fine but I don't think it carries the full meaning. You are not talking merely about people who care about grammar. You are talking specifically about people who enjoy pouncing on small errors as an opportunity to make someone look inferior.

ahdictionary.org shows, as the third definition of "nazi," "A severely intolerant or dictatorial person." They note that, in this meaning, it's often spelled with a small "n." I think that this is a good idea. I personally dislike this use of the word. I blame a famous 1995 episode of "Seinfeld" for popularizing it. For me, it doesn't rise to the level of offense, but it does make me uncomfortable. I do feel that it trivializes a terrible episode in history that should be remembered and not be subject figurative language and casual jokes.

May 6, 2018


May 6, 2018

I don't use much the term because I'm one probably, but in its defense, I once saw someone pointing out on Twitter how the same people who have a hard time calling white terrorist groups "nazis" (in favor of the milder "alt-right" denomination) had no trouble using freely the term for years in pop culture (nazi, soup nazi, feminazi, etc.),  and I thought it was very clever.

So whatever it is, good precedent for to denounce hypocrisy!

May 6, 2018
Nazi would imply that they don't only insist on correcting the mistake, but also belittle those making the mistake (the position of arrogant superiority: we who don't make this mistake are better than you who do). This is sometimes the case, but not always when correcting someone. So maybe the term "grammar police" is better.
May 6, 2018
What? I thought that was the mom of Hitler's dad.
May 7, 2018
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Wei
Language Skills
Chinese (Mandarin), Chinese (Taiwanese), English, Japanese
Learning Language
Japanese