People Overuse The Word Ignorant: It Is Time To Get Out A Thesaurus And Choose Another Word

On the Internet, over the last couple of years there seems to be a proliferation of the word ignorant, and often it is overused. Do you remember in high school when your teacher suggested using a thesaurus to use a new word? Often there are more positive and better words to use as opposed to ignorant, but people keeping coming back to this cliché phrase. I am not asking you to sugar coat your speech and writing, but have you ever considered the impact or lack thereof that your words are making on others. The first few times I heard someone tell another person they were ignorant it came across as if the speaker was on a superiority trip. Am I the only one that is slightly bothered by the banality of using the same word over and over again? I decided to do an Internet search and found some other people feel the word ignorant is used too often. At the end of the day people will use whichever word they feel most comfortable with, but how does calling someone ignorant make you come across? It comes across as if the user of the word ignorant is not a very rational debater and must use emotional words to make their opposition feel inferior. Ironically, many people who misuse the word ignorant are just as educated as the person they are accusing of being "less informed". There seems to be a tendency to call your opponent ignorant to make yourself seem more educated, and this is just very negative. Using the word ignorant once in a while conveys its true meaning, but in today's cyber world the word ignorant is often a trite way of someone telling their adversary "I am better than you".

Yes, the definition of the word ignorant means less informed or lacking knowledge, but why not try using a more positive or unique word? Next time when debating rather than telling your opposition "they are ignorant," you could try saying:

1. You seem to be misinformed about this issue.................

2. How do you think other people feel about this issue.....................

3. Try walking in another person's shoes........................

4. You are a highly educated person that I respect, but I feel you could learn more about................

The list goes of alternative words to use, but the important point to keep in mind is we should never put others down with our language. Often times the person you are accusing of being "ignorant" on certain issues could be 110% more informed about issues about which you are clueless. Using more positive words also goes much farther when trying to rationalize with your opponent as people tend to react negatively to the not so positive use of the word ignorant. Yes everyone is ignorant of something, but using this word to the hilt comes across as the lack of using a thesaurus. Just some thoughts I have about the platitudinal use and sometimes abuse of the word ignorant.

Thesaurus Lovers Want To Know

Does the overuse and often misuse of the word ignorant come across as condescending?

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Comments 33 comments

starrkissed profile image

starrkissed 8 years ago from Arizona

I have to agree with you on this. I see 'ignorant' or 'retarded' much more often than I'd like.


SweetiePie profile image

SweetiePie 8 years ago from Southern California, USA Author

Starkissed,

I am glad someone else feels this way. "Retard" is another word people use way too much. If people used the word "ignorant" when referring to themselves and not know as much as they would like to about a topic that would be one thing, but when the word is used as an insult that is another. Thanks for commenting.


t.keeley profile image

t.keeley 8 years ago from Seattle, WA

Thanks Sweetiepie. My bane with the word comes from its misuse, as if ignorant means the person is rude or ... well, ignorant....lol. Ignorant does not mean what we think it means anymore. Misuse beats out overuse for me.


SweetiePie profile image

SweetiePie 8 years ago from Southern California, USA Author

t.keely,

Sometimes I think the overuse borders on misuse, and quickly escalates to abuse.  There are times I will be reading a blog and any time someone offers a challenging response, he or she is called ignorant.  Maybe if this only occurred once and awhile, but the repetitive use of the word comes across as a non-rational form of argument.  Just my point of view on this.  Thanks for your insightful comment t.keeley.


t.keeley profile image

t.keeley 8 years ago from Seattle, WA

No you're right--it's never an inspired answer when that word is tossed in immediately. Perhaps there needs to be a law on hubpages, either post an intelligent response or get out?


SweetiePie profile image

SweetiePie 8 years ago from Southern California, USA Author

t.keeley,

Perhaps, but I have seen this word used more often on other forums than here. People at HubPages do not misuse it as much, but YouTube on the other hand is another question.


marisuewrites profile image

marisuewrites 8 years ago from USA

It's odd how slang and overused buzz words come and go...I love the study of language, and agree we can get in the habit of using favorite words that take away from our writing. Readers like common language, but not repetitive, unless it's done for effect, and then sparingly.

Great hub, Sweetie Pie

It's not ignorant. LOL


SweetiePie profile image

SweetiePie 8 years ago from Southern California, USA Author

Marisuewrites,

I do not mean sound like the word police and tell people they can never use the word ignorant, but I have noticed the tendency of some people using this word in a mean spirited way.  The first time they used it I thought they were trying to get their point across, but then I notice they used this word time and time again, but usually only when someone did not agree with them.  Thus, when someone keeps using the word ignorant to let the other people know they are less informed than yours truly, it begins to feel condescending and disrespectful in my book.  I agree the use of common language is good for our purposes, especially here on the Internet, but what I find ridiculous is how many people overuse and misuse this word and other related words on YouTube, Craigsslist, Myspace, and on various popular Internet hang outs.  I have even seen people misspell ignorant, which is quite funny really.  Thanks for commenting Marisue.


RyanRE profile image

RyanRE 8 years ago from Bellingham, WA

While I occasionally do use the term ignorant, I try to reserve the word for the only the most appropriate times. My favorite use of the word is "ignorantly bliss". Right now my favorite word is "stupid". I don't necessarily call "people" stupid as much as I call "things" stupid.

Fun Hub!


SweetiePie profile image

SweetiePie 8 years ago from Southern California, USA Author

RyanRE,

Thanks for reading and commenting. Whereas I do see that people enjoy using those words, I suppose I just heard these references used one time too many towards people and not things. Of course people will use which ever words they wish, but when people constantly call those who do not agree with them ignorant, it makes them look as if they never use a thesaurus. I am glad you thought this hub was fun because I did enjoy writing it. Thanks!


Barbie-Perkins profile image

Barbie-Perkins 8 years ago from Cincinnati, OH

Sweetie Pie,

Great article. I like the word unaware. I believe it has a positive tone.

Thenks, Barbie


SweetiePie profile image

SweetiePie 8 years ago from Southern California, USA Author

Barbie-Perkins,

Unware is much more positive for sure, and more creative than the old go to word some use. Thanks for the suggestion.


weblog profile image

weblog 8 years ago from 1India

I'm glad as you have written about it. As usual a master piece - Thumbs up!


SweetiePie profile image

SweetiePie 8 years ago from Southern California, USA Author

Thanks weblog, I appreciate your comments.


Constant Walker profile image

Constant Walker 8 years ago from Springfield, Oregon

I always thought "ignorant" was an interesting word. It sounds like an insult, but it's really not. There's nothing wrong with being less informed. To some degree we all are - there's always someone more enightened.

I don't read a lot of blogs, except for here at HP, so I've been spared the overuse of the word, but it would seem to me that the person overusing the word would make themselves look exactly that... wouldn't they?


SweetiePie profile image

SweetiePie 8 years ago from Southern California, USA Author

That is precisely my point Constant Walker, the people who overuse and misuse this word look a little misinformed.  Ignorant is not the best word out there, just my humble opinion.  I had a superb English teacher who really believed there were better and more positive words out there to convey the same meaning, hence my bias.  However, everyone is entitled to use the words that best suit the situation.  My entire point is the way in which people use it online is in most cases a slight towards the person they are speaking too. When someone says that another person lacks ignorance of a subject it often comes across as "I know more than you attitude." In college my most knowledgeable professors were humble people who never used this word in their lectures or writing, so I take my cues from them.  Just my two cents, but sometimes when I write it is just ramblings/rants at the moment.


Constant Walker profile image

Constant Walker 8 years ago from Springfield, Oregon

Wait a minute, "lacks ignorance"? Really? Isn't that a compliment? That's too funny.

You would love this, Steph. If you've got Windows Vista (it's awesome!) you can put little "gadgets" up on the right side of your screen. I've got a clock, a calendar, a temperature read-out/forecast (from The Weather Channel!) for my city, AND a thesaurus/dictionary. Just type in a word and you get a long list of alternatives. It's great! But, it won't help when trying to spell a weird word correctly. Oh well...


SweetiePie profile image

SweetiePie 8 years ago from Southern California, USA Author

I added one extra word in there actually. Who is Steph by the way? I will be glad when I get a new computer someday with an updated operating system such as Vista. Right now I just make do with this one.


Constant Walker profile image

Constant Walker 8 years ago from Springfield, Oregon

Doh! Stephhicks68, another hubber. Ha-ha. I have no excuses, so I won't even try. ...That would be "ignorant."

Just kidding.... couldn't resist!


SweetiePie profile image

SweetiePie 8 years ago from Southern California, USA Author

I assumed maybe you were refering to Steph, but since she had not commented on this hub it was just a little confusing. Funny joke :).


Constant Walker profile image

Constant Walker 8 years ago from Springfield, Oregon

I had just gotten an email about her recent hub, so still had the name in my mind.


SweetiePie profile image

SweetiePie 8 years ago from Southern California, USA Author

That happens to me all the time. My sister gets mad when I call her by my other sister's name, but sometimes it just happens.


Constant Walker profile image

Constant Walker 8 years ago from Springfield, Oregon

Funny. Have fun with it. Give her a completely different name each time you talk to her... It'll drive her insane!


SweetiePie profile image

SweetiePie 8 years ago from Southern California, USA Author

What I made the mistake of was going out on a limb for someone who sort of does the same thing to other people. I tried to be nice, but then I saw they heavily judged me because I was just trying to offer an alternative viewpoint to their narrow one. I learned this the other day when I made the mistake of commenting on a Fundamentalist hub. I need to be positive and not let this get me down, but some of the comments coming from this viewpoint are just ridiculous.


Constant Walker profile image

Constant Walker 8 years ago from Springfield, Oregon

I've learned not to even read or comment on pro-religious hubs. My view point on the subject is too strong and it's always taken as antagonistic... maybe it is.


SweetiePie profile image

SweetiePie 8 years ago from Southern California, USA Author

However, you probably have some good points. I had always been more open minded than they, but when I did read those hubs it brought back memories of some of the hypocritical people I grew up with. Your approach is probably best.


Constant Walker profile image

Constant Walker 8 years ago from Springfield, Oregon

Are you sure? My approach is "religion is evil." Ha-ha. But thanks, you're one of the very few people who feel that way.


SweetiePie profile image

SweetiePie 8 years ago from Southern California, USA Author

Well I do not believe religion is completely evil, but I feel human interpretations of the Bible can be very convoluted. I feel the way these people use religion is very exclusive and confrontational, but always under the shield of pretending to be kind when they do it. Tolerance is really not their strong suit and they actually do not follow the Bible which they claim to believe in. I read the Bible myself, but the things I learned about it are night and day from the way they take it. However you completely do have a point about how religion can be evil.


Constant Walker profile image

Constant Walker 8 years ago from Springfield, Oregon

I read it, too, when I was a kid. I thought it was extremely boring, but I was a kid. And I studied other religions too, just for the hell of it (no pun intended - well, maybe a little), and I studied history. That was when I started to realize how much of Mankind's autrocities have been directly because of religion. And it's still going on.


Feline Prophet profile image

Feline Prophet 8 years ago from India

Nice hub SweetiePie! Oooops...that's another overused word! I remember doing exercises as a child - we had to replace the word 'nice' with another adjective and there are certainly lots that might suit an occasion better. But really...nice has such a...well...nice ring to it, don't you think? :)


SweetiePie profile image

SweetiePie 8 years ago from Southern California, USA Author

Feline Prophet,

Nice has a great ring to it, but at least saying nice to someone is not harsh like telling someone you are "ignorant". There is still a need to use other adjectives when writing a paper, but I would imagine using the word nice a few times would not be as bad as using the word "ignorant" several times in a paper. Can you imagine how misinformed the person would sound handing that paper in? Maybe not misinformed, but lazy for sure :). Thanks for the amusing comments and I must say I am intrigued by your screename. Do you love lasanga?


Feline Prophet profile image

Feline Prophet 8 years ago from India

Indeed I do love lasagna...but are prophets allowed to admit such weaknesses? :P


SweetiePie profile image

SweetiePie 8 years ago from Southern California, USA Author

I suppose not. I wonder who you are as you are a cat. I am intrigued :).

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