Terminology at XSEDE

Words matter! XSEDE's commitment to fostering and promoting an inclusive environment for all users, staff, and the wider community extends to all language and terminology in all of our materials. As a result of this commitment, XSEDE's Terminology Task Force (TTF) was formed to review, address, and define processes to eliminate offensive terms in our materials.

The TTF has compiled a living list of terms deemed inappropriate for use in our organizational areas. For each term we describe why it may be offensive, cite source materials in support, categorize the term by type of bias, and provide replacement suggestions.

It's important to understand why certain terms can be offensive in order to effectively find and replace offensive terms and clarify those that were used appropriately. Some terms should never be used, while others can be appropriate in the right context; in these cases, it helps to use precise language.

Terminology List

Click on each column's header to sort.

Term Replacement Bias Context Source
Aboriginal Indigenous people/peoples, an individual's Nation or community, e.g. "Cree", "Musqueam", "Mohawk". Ethnic Slur Using the term "Aboriginal", Indigenous Peoples are situated solely by their political-legal relationship to the state rather than by any cultural or social ties to their Indigenous community and culture. Social Justice Synonyms #12: Indigenous Identity and Terminology
abort cancel, end Gender Bias May evoke violent images, religious objections none
addicted hooked, devoted Disability Bias May case harm to those who are experiencing drug addition, or are in recovery, or have friends/relatives who have experienced addiction none
American US Citizen Implicit Bias When we talk about "Americans" in the United States, we're usually just referring to people from the United States. This erases other cultures and depicts the United States as the dominant American country. Inclusive Language Guide
basket case nervous Disability Bias The term originally referred to a person, usually a soldier from World War I, who has lost all four limbs. Inclusive Language Guide
birth defect congenital disability Disability Bias The word defect implies a person is sub-par or somehow incomplete Inclusive Language Guide
black box opaque box Implicit Bias The phrases didn't originate in times of slavery, but the use of "black" to describe things is subconsciously racialized CNN: Everyday words and phrases that have racist connotations
black mark demerit Implicit Bias The term implies wrongdoing. If you bear a black mark, you've done something that people hold against you. Huffington Post
blackball deny Implicit Bias The term implies wrongdoing. If you've been blackballed, you've been banned from joining an organization because of something you've done. CNN: Everyday words and phrases that have racist connotations
blacklist(ed) disallowed Implicit Bias Assigns negative connotations to the color black.The phrase didn't originate in slavery, but the use of black to describe value is subconsiously racialized CNN: Everyday words and phrases that have racist connotations
blind review anonymous review, redacted review Disability Bias May be offensive to those with visual disabilities. When we use metaphors like "blind study," we unintentionally perpetuate the abnormality and negativity of impairment, furthering an ableist culture. An End to "Blind Review"
blind study anonymous review, redacted review Disability Bias May be offensive to those with visual disabilities. When we use metaphors like "blind review," we unintentionally perpetuate the abnormality and negativity of impairment, furthering an ableist culture. An End to "Blind Review"
brown bag lunch and learn, tech talks Implicit Bias The term traces back to the "brown paper bag test," wherein servants/butlers would gauge a person's whiteness by comparing their skin tone with a brown bag before determining if they could enter a private residence. Don't Call It a ‘Brown Bag Lunch': Seattle Frowns on Popular Term
cake walk easy, simple Implicit Bias The cakewalk originated as a dance performed by enslaved Black people on plantations before the Civil War. It was intended to be a mockery of the way White people danced, though plantation owners often interpreted slaves' movements as unskillful attempts to be like them. Owners held contests in which enslaved people competed for a cake. Later, the dance -- and the idiom -- was popularized through minstrel shows, characterized by a "a high-leg prance with a backward tilt of the head, shoulders and upper torso." CNN: Everyday words and phrases that have racist connotations
chief Indigenous people/peoples, an individual's Nation or community, e.g. "Cree", "Musqueam", "Mohawk". Ethnic Slur Calling an Indigenous person "chief" is offensive. It's a nickname that reduces a person solely to race. 7 things you should never say to a Native American
colored person of color Ethnic Slur Highly offensive slur used during segregation to separate people of color from whites only amenities and opportunities Inclusive Language Guide
crazy surprising, wild Disability Bias Offensive terms related to mental illness Inclusive Language Guide
cretin none Ethnic Bias Though most people use the word "cretin" to refer to someone that is "insensitive" or "stupid," Merriam-Webster writes that the word used to refer to those who lives in the French-Swiss Alps, and were affected with hypothyroidism. Business Insider: 12 racist and offensive phrases that people still use all the time
cripple disabled person Disability Bias Derogatory term used for a person with a physical disability restricting the use of extremities, particularly the legs. NDA: Appropriate Terms to Use
dumb person who cannot speak Disability Bias Once widely used to describe a person who could not speak and implied the person was incapable of expressing themselves Inclusive Language Guide
dummy value placeholder value, sample value Disability Bias Once widely used to describe a person who could not speak and implied the person was incapable of expressing themselves Twitter Stops Using Terms 'Master,' 'Slave' and 'Blacklist'
eeny meeny miney moe randomly selected Institutional Racism Song in which the original version uses racial language and refers to the slave hunts conducted to find runaway slaves Business Insider: 12 racist and offensive phrases that people still use all the time
Eskimo Indigenous people/peoples, an individual's Nation or community, e.g. "Cree", "Musqueam", "Mohawk". Ethnic Slur Although the name "Eskimo" was commonly used in Alaska to refer to Inuit and Yupik people of the world, this usage is now considered unacceptable by many or even most Alaska Natives, largely since it is a colonial name imposed by non-Indigenous people Inuit or Eskimo: Which name to use?
fell on deaf ears didn't listen Disability Bias Terminology may be offensive to those within the deaf community. Indicates that the disability makes the person less able none
first class citizens core feature, top level Implicit Bias Socially charged term Google Developers
flow master (Kanban) flow manager Institutional Racism Use of master may convey a sense of superiority, and may have negative historical context Words Matter: Finally, Tech Looks at Removing Exclusionary Language
freshman first-year Gender Bias Reinforces a language that already privileges men Inclusive Language Guide
fuzzy-wuzzy none Implicit Bias This is a derogatory term used by British colonial soldiers to refer to the hair of a nomadic tribe in East Africa. 7 Racist Slurs Which You Should Drop From Your Vocabulary
Gender Biased Terminology one ..., a person ..., Gender Bias Pronouns are an important part of how we identify that deserves to be respected. Assuming someone's gender can be hurtful, especially to members of our community who are transgender, genderqueer, or non-binary. Business Insider: What you should know about gender pronouns, how to use them, and why they're important
Gender Biased Terminology, pronouns etc they/them/theirs Gender Bias Pronouns are an important part of how we identify that deserves to be respected. Assuming someone's gender can be hurtful, especially to members of our community who are transgender, genderqueer, or non-binary. Business Insider: What you should know about gender pronouns, how to use them, and why they're important
ghetto refer to the name of the neighborhood Implicit Bias Often used to indicated any socially segregated non-white urban neighborhood Inclusive Language Guide
gimp, gimpy, gimped none Disability Bias The noun gimp is sometimes used to describe a limp or another physical disability, although it's an outdated and offensive word to use. Gimp was first used in the 1920's, possibly as a combination of limp and gammy, an old slang word for "bad." Viscardi Center
grandfathered in exempt, legacy status Institutional Racism Refers to the "grandfather clause" adopted by seven Southern states during the Reconstruction Era. This allowed those states to deny voting rights to blacks NPR: The Racial History Of The 'Grandfather Clause'
gray beard individual's name Ageism Older, more experienced IT or cybersecurity personality. One sought after for wisdom born from study and experience over a lifetime. none
gray hat hacker hacktivist Ageism Older, more experienced IT or cybersecurity personality. One sought after for wisdom born from study and experience over a lifetime. none
guys folks, people, all, you all, y'all, everyone Gender Bias Reinforces a language that already privileges men Instead Of Saying 'Hey, Guys!' At Work, Try These Gender-Neutral Alternatives
gyp cheat Ethnic Slur A term derived from the Romani gypsies which made a stereotype that all Romani were thieves, cheaters, or liars Business Insider
half-breed Indigenous people/peoples, an individual's Nation or community, e.g. "Cree", "Musqueam", "Mohawk". Ethnic Slur Offensive to those of mixed heritage Inclusive Language Guide
handicapped disabled Disability Bias Term generalizes the population and minimizes personhood, implying that people with disabilities ar not capable Inclusive Language Guide
hip-hip hurray hooray, yay Institutional Racism Anti-semitic. It comes from "Hep-Hep," the origin of which was Latin: "Hieroslyma est perdita" for "Jerusalem has fallen." The Hep-Hep riots involved the lynching of thousands of Jews. 7 Racist Slurs Which You Should Drop From Your Vocabulary
Hispanic Latinx, use person's country of origin Ethnic Slur Problematic when people are called Hispanic based on their name or appearnce without first checking to see how they identify Inclusive Language Guide
hooligan troublemaker Ethnic Slur Slur used to refer to Irish people as unruly or destructive Business Insider
illegal immigrant/Alien undocumented immigrant Ethnic Slur Saying that a person is illegal dehumanizes them and implies that they are criminals without taking into account their status Inclusive Language Guide
Indian Indigenous people/peoples, an individual's Nation or community, e.g. "Cree", "Musqueam", "Mohawk". Ethnic Slur The term indian in the US is associated with Columbus, who mistakenly labeled the Indigenous people of the Americas as Indians. It is considered an ethnic slur. Social Justice Synonyms #12: Indigenous Identity and Terminology
Jew down haggle, bargain Ethnic Slur The term to "Jew down" was born out of stereotypes formed during medieval times about Jews being cheap or prone to hoard money. Often they were forced into financial occupations and thus were best known as money lenders, leaving them vulnerable to anti-Semitic misrepresentations. What does ‘Jew down' mean, and why do people find it offensive?
lynch mob unjust attack Institutional Racism Lynch mobs originated as hordes of people, most always White, who'd torture and kill Black people -- often by hanging them -- as a form of vigilante justice. CNN: Everyday words and phrases that have racist connotations
Male or Female connectors and fasteners plug/socket connectors Gender Bias References to Gender Bias The Register
man hours person hours, effort hours Gender Bias Reinforces a language that already privileges men Twitter Engineering
master manager Institutional Racism References which have historical context regarding oppression of a group of people. Masters controlled those people and made them slaves, unable to exercise free will or be considered human Washington Post: Opinion: There's an industry that talks daily about ‘masters' and ‘slaves.' It needs to stop.
master / slave Use the replacement term that the vendor or provider uses in their documentation Institutional Racism References which have historical context regarding oppression of a group of people. Masters controlled those people and made them slaves, unable to exercise free will or be considered human Washington Post: Opinion: There's an industry that talks daily about ‘masters' and ‘slaves.' It needs to stop.
master branch main branch Institutional Racism References which have historical context regarding oppression of a group of people. Masters controlled those people and made them slaves, unable to exercise free will or be considered human Washington Post: Opinion: There's an industry that talks daily about ‘masters' and ‘slaves.' It needs to stop.
minority Native American, African American, a general term "people of color" when referring to racial or ethnic communities. Institutional Racism The term "minority" has come to be seen as a generalized term for "the other." Also, the use of "minority" implies a "less than" attitude toward the community or communities being discussed. Instead, use either community-specific terms (e.g., "Native American," "African American," etc.) or the general term "people of color" when referring to racial or ethnic communities. Speaking and Writing About Diversity
mob or mob programming team, swarm, troop Ethnic Bias Mobs originated as hordes of people, most always White, who'd torture and kill Black people. Mob has also been linked to stereotypes regarding Italians. CNN: Everyday words and phrases that have racist connotations
Native Indigenous people/peoples, an individual's Nation or community, e.g. "Cree", "Musqueam", "Mohawk". Ethnic Slur The use of these words to refer to an Indigenous person today reflects colonial and racist practices, as it invokes images of savagery and barbarism. Social Justice Synonyms #12: Indigenous Identity and Terminology
native feature built in Ethnic Bias The use of these words to refer to an Indigenous person today reflects colonial and racist practices, as it invokes images of savagery and barbarism. https://developers.google.com/style/word-list - native
native speaker/non-native speaker English as a primary language, English as a secondary language (ESL) Ethnic Bias The use of these words to refer to an Indigenous person today reflects colonial and racist practices, as it invokes images of savagery and barbarism. https://developers.google.com/style/word-list - native
Nazi rigid, rule abiding Ethnic Slur A group of people who discrimated against all but the Aryan race. It is particulary offensive to people who are part of the Jewish religion due to their persecution at the hands of the Nazi forces. none
nitty-gritty details, specifics Ethnic Bias Some scholars believe this was a euphemism for the N-word, originating from the lower decks of ships used to transport enslaved people across the Atlantic Ocean. 7 Racist Slurs Which You Should Drop From Your Vocabulary
no can do I can't do it Ethnic Bias The widespread use of the phrase in English today has obscured its origin: what might seem like folksy, abbreviated version of I can't do it is actually an imitation of Chinese Pidgin English. The phrase dates from the mid-19th to early-20th centuries, an era when Western attitudes towards the Chinese were markedly racist. Common Words and Phrases That Have Seriously Racist Roots
off the reservation none Ethnic Bias Native American peoples were restricted to reservations created by the U.S. government, and their freedom was severely limited by the terms of the treaties they were often forced to sign. NPR: Should Saying Someone Is 'Off The Reservation' Be Off-Limits?
paddy wagon police car Ethnic Bias A term originated after the draft riots of 1863 when police cars were used to arrest the economically poor Irish Americans who resisted the draft. Business Insider
pow-wow Huddle, Standup, Discussion Ethnic Bias Pow-wows are social gatherings for ceremonial and celebratory purposes and are conducted under strict protocol. Using this phrase to refer to a quick business meeting denigrates the long, cultural significance of the pow wow. Use these culturally offensive phrases, questions at your own risk
Redskins Indigenous people/peoples, an individual's Nation or community, e.g. "Cree", "Musqueam", "Mohawk". Ethnic Slur Ethnic slur, offensive to Indigenous people Social Justice Synonyms #12: Indigenous Identity and Terminology
red team cyber offense Ethnic Bias The use of color to denote values may be offensive to some ethnic groups. The Colors Of Cybersecurity
rule of thumb standard or general rule Gender Bias The rule of thumb derived from English law which allowed a man to beat his wife with a stick so long as it was no thicker than his thumb. Inclusive Language Guide
sanity check Quick check, Confidence Check, Coherence Check Disability Bias May be offensive to those with mental health issues. Unconscious Bias in Computer Science
savage Indigenous people/peoples, an individual's Nation or community, e.g. "Cree", "Musqueam", "Mohawk". Ethnic Slur The use of these words to refer to an Indigenous person today reflects colonial and racist practices, as it invokes images of savagery and barbarism. Social Justice Synonyms #12: Indigenous Identity and Terminology
scrum master agile lead, agile program manager, agile coach, agile team facilitator, scrum coach, scrum teacher, scrum leader, scrum facilitator, servant leader, scrum custodian Institutional Racism References which have historical context regarding oppression of a group of people. Masters controlled those people and made them slaves, unable to exercise free will or be considered human. Words Matter: Finally, Tech Looks at Removing Exclusionary Language
servant producer Institutional Racism The word servant serves to perpetuate a mindset that allows one person to be considered completely inferior to another because of the lowliness of their job. There can be no sense of equality between a servant and their employer, just as there can be no sense of equality between a slave and their master. Coconutshongkong
slave worker Institutional Racism Refers to a person being the legal property of another. This person has no legal rights other than those granted by the master. Washington Post
sold down the river betrayed Institutional Racism A term which refers to unruly slaves being sold into slavery at places along the waterways. CNN: Everyday words and phrases that have racist connotations
spirit animal none Ethnic Bias Cultural appropriation and disrespect of signs which carry religious signifcance for Indigenous Indians. 7 Racist Slurs Which You Should Drop From Your Vocabulary
submit process Implicit Bias The dictionary term means to give or offer something for a decision to be made by others. However, due to some discussions within religious communities, submit can be taken in the context of allowing others to have power over you. Additionally, submission is a topic of discussion within some communities, resulting in a word that may have multiple meanings according to culture. none
tarbaby difficult problem Ethnic Slur The term tar baby is most commonly used to refer to a difficult problem that is only aggravated by attempts to solve it, alluding to an incident in Joel Chandler Harris's Uncle Remus (1881). The use as a racial slur arose by the 1940s, and because of its highly offensive nature, the original meaning is now often regarded as offensive by association none
tarball tar file, tar archive, tar bundle Ethnic Bias The use of the term tarball can have negative connotations to people of color who may be unaware of the acronym associated in computing context. none
tone deaf unenlightened Disability Bias May be offensive to those with hearing difficulties. medium.com
tribal knowledge institutional knowledge Ethnic Bias Cultural appropriation and disrespect of signs which carry religious signifcance to Indigenous Americans. none
uppity arrogant Institutional Racism Used to refer to a black person who didn't know their place as a second class citizen in America. CNN: Everyday words and phrases that have racist connotations
user (context-dependent) customer Implicit Bias The phrase is criticised for its negative connotations and outdated use, and many argue that is has no place in a modern UX terminology or in broader business language. UX terminology: Is it time we dropped the term ‘users'?
war room security incident room, situation room, project management room Implicit Bias The term war room is derived from the military and was first used in 1901. This was a room used by the military to meet and plan war strategy. Using this term may evoke tragedy that can be problematic to survivors of war or veterans. Inclusive Language Guide
webmaster, web master web product owner Institutional Racism Reference which has historical context regarding oppression of a group of people. Masters controlled those people and made them slaves, unable to exercise free will or be considered human. none
white hat / black hat ethical actor / bad actor Implicit Bias Assigns value connotations based on color. The phrase didn't originate in slavery, but the use of color to describe value is subconsiously racialized. Unconscious Bias in Computer Science
white paper position paper, publication, report Implicit Bias Assigns value connotations based on color. The phrase didn't originate in slavery, but the use of color to describe value is subconsiously racialized. Reference to colors in terms of value inappropriate (see urban dictionary)
white team cyber exercise cell Implicit Bias Assigns value connotations based on color. The phrase didn't originate in slavery, but the use of color to describe value is subconsiously racialized. The Colors Of Cybersecurity
whitelist(ed) allowed Implicit Bias Assigns value connotations based on color. The phrase didn't originate in slavery, but the use of color to describe value is subconsiously racialized. ‘Whitelist,' ‘Blacklist': The New Debate Over Security Terminology
yellow team DevSecOps team Implicit Bias Assigns value connotations based on color. The phrase didn't originate in slavery, but the use of color to describe value is subconsiously racialized and may be offensive to an East or Southeast Asian person. The Colors Of Cybersecurity

Suggestion Form

The Terminology List is an evolving document. We encourage you to reach out to the XSEDE Terminology Task Force with any feedback, recognizing that some third-party materials may be beyond our editorial control.

XSEDE Terminology Suggestion Form