politically correct



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Probably nineteenth century in origin. In the early twentieth century the term was associated with the dogmatic application of Stalinist and Communist Party doctrine. In the 1970s, it was adopted by wider left-wing politics, initially ironically and possibly in mockery of the Communist usage. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, it acquired the pejorative sense when used by right-wing political groups to mock left-wing groups.


politically correct ‎(comparative more politically correct, superlative most politically correct)

  1. (politics) Possessing or conforming to the correct political positions; following the official policies of the government or a political party.
    • 1793, U.S. Supreme Court, Chisholm v State of GA, 2 US 419 (1793)
      Sentiments and expressions of this inaccurate kind prevail in our common, even in our convivial, language. Is a toast asked? ‘The United States’, instead of the ‘People of the United States’, is the toast given. This is not politically correct.
    • 1964 March 23, Lyndon B. Johnson, Remarks in Atlantic City at the Convention of the United Auto Workers:
      I am here to tell you that we are going to do those things which need to be done, not because they are politically correct, but because they are right. We are going to pass a civil rights bill if it takes all summer.
    • 1969, Sopin, Y. F., chapter 5, in The Bolshevik Party's Struggle Against Trotskyism[1], page 214:
      Lenin gave an all-round substantiation of the impossibility of implementing the United States of Europe slogan under capitalism. He said this slogan merged with socialism and acquired political meaning only under socialism. It was politically correct also from the standpoint of the need to overthrow the three reactionary monarchies of Europe—that of Russia, of Germany and of Austria-Hungary.
  2. (idiomatic, sometimes pejorative, of language) Avoiding offense based on demographics especially race, sex, religion, ideology, sexuality, disability, or social grouping
    • 1970, Cade, Toni, The Black Woman:
      A man cannot be politically correct and a chauvinist too.
    • 1981 December 14, G:kirk, “Yet Another Camel Joke”, in net.jokes, Usenet[2], message-ID <anews.Apopuli.106>:
      Why do they call camels "Ships-of-the-desert" ?
      Because they're full of Iranian seamen.
      (NOW, being politically correct you must, of course, substitute "martian"
      What a clever joke this becomes! Hopefully, there are no martians listening. )
  3. (idiomatic, politics, usually pejorative) Possessing stereotypical left-wing social and political views.

Usage notesEdit

While "politically correct" frequently refers to a linguistic phenomenon, it is sometimes extended to cover political ideology and behavior, curriculum content, and many areas affected by law, regulation, and public pressure.



Derived termsEdit


See alsoEdit

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