What’s in a Name ?

Would you agree that we’ve all recently been instructed that some names are not politically correct, and that they can be offensive ?

Regarding old people, strictly taboo now are the words ‘geezer, coot, or little-old lady’.

‘Fuddy-duddy’ and ‘old fogie’ are also terms that should never be used.

I suggest that we also stop using the term ‘senior citizen’, since it is patronizing.

First used in the United States in the 1930s, senior citizen is a euphemism, for ‘old person’, and it tries to disguise Western Cuture’s fear of aging and death.

As a young person, I lived for a time, and conducted research, in an Ojibway Community in Western Canada. There, I learned how indigenous cultures show great respect to the old people in their communities, called, the ‘elders’.This trait is admirable, and worth emulating.

Worldwide, many other cultures, including those of Korea and India show the older members of society great respect for the wisdom that age and experience can bring.

Perhaps changing the term ‘senior citizen’ to ‘elder’ could be a first step in reducing ageist attitudes that are prevalent in North America.

I may ask our local drugstore to start offering ‘Elder Discounts’, rather than ‘Seniors’ Discounts’.

May God give us the grace to be respectful of everyone.

Photo courtesy of iStock

men dancers at a pow wow in michigan

31 thoughts on “What’s in a Name ?

  1. Personally, I liked the way Paul Harvey called them “seasoned citizens.” πŸ˜‰
    We can drive ourselves and each other crazy over what names (and pronouns) to use. I really think that the bottom line is respect, and that comes more from our attitudes than words. I can forgive a lot of awkward word choices if I sense the person means well.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Thanks Sally. I believe in free speech. But I also believe in obeying the Golden Rule. The term β€œelder” is better I guess. It is the word used in Scripture and denoted the older wiser ones who were held in great respect both for their age but also their spiritual maturity. The main thing, however, which you bring up here, is that older people must be treated with the respect and honor they deserve and such respect is certainly lacking. It is a sad condition of our present society. There is so much wisdom and information being wasted it is shocking. It is as if the elders among us have no value. The world in going to hell all around us in large part because the great value of our elders is not being considered. So much could be straightened out in a short time if their input was allowed, respected, and applied. (Elders of the world rise up!)

    Please continue your work in this area. It is greatly needed. Blessings to you

    Liked by 3 people

  3. This is an interesting post Sally. I am always fascinated by society’s use and abuse of language; words fall out of use and end up being misused later (i.e., gay). Having said that, you are right regarding the place Western Society gives to older citizens in contrast to Eastern Countries and indigenous peoples. The acceptance of “Elder” as a suitable title of honour may move society in the right direction. But I feel that our only true hope is with the Almighty; the more folk who accept Him and His Gospel the better society will be.
    Thank you Sally for a thoughtful post, God bless you sister.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. My brother-in-law who “predates” me by seven years thought it was kind of cool when he was standing in a line and a young man deferred to him and said, “Hey, let this ‘older gentleman’ with the cane through.” Then another time he appreciated when someone welcomed him, “It’s nice to see a ‘senior citizen’ supporting this.” But he drew the line when a kid said, “Hey, get out of the way for the ‘elderly guy’.” πŸ˜‚ TRUE stories!

    Liked by 3 people

  5. I no longer use the expression, β€œI wasn’t born yesterday!” I’ve had the privilege of living at a time when we proclaimed, β€œDon’t trust anyone under 30,” and now I say, β€œDon’t trust anyone under 30.” Interesting post. I can’t think of a good term for older Americans. I tend to call others β€œold” while excusing myself.

    Liked by 1 person

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