Words We Can’t Print in D Magazine

Mike, Zac, and I got into a discussion about words that you just can’t print (the words, not the discussion). These aren’t vulgarities. They are perfectly fine words that, for one reason or another, simply don’t work in print. “Facsimileing” got the discussion started. The gerund form of the word looks insane. I think at D Magazine it will always have to be “making a facsimile of something.” Here are the other we (and others) must avoid:

Niggardly. It’s a perfectly fine word and totally unrelated to that other N-word. But it’s essentially the same damn word. Too dangerous.

Whinge. It means nearly the same thing as “whine,” so, in context, readers will think we meant to use “whine,” and that zany “g” will make them think we goofed. Our readers are smart, but I think “whinge” trips up even smart readers.

Pussy. Get your mind out of the gutter. I’m talking about an infection. The problem here, of course, is that studies have shown that 87 percent of Americans have their minds in the gutter.

Lightninging. Mike brought this one up. He claims that if it’s thundering outside, then it should also be lightninging. Mike is insane. This is not a perfectly fine word. We’re not printing it.


  • Dubious Brother

    The letter N can create awkward moments even on your favorite word game show.


  • mm

    You won’t print “lightninging”? Pussy.

  • RAB

    I consider myself a smart reader, but I get tripped up on “whinge.” (I also get tripped up on pussy.)

  • RAB’s comment = win.

  • Christopher

    Once disrespect became a verb, there were no more rules. No lightninging when that happened.

    And if you really want to be entertained, listen to the average educated person, for example, the everyday NPR interviewer or interviewee, try to employ a preposition correctly. To golly, it’s hilarious. In fact, just pay attention by your own office mates when they aren’t on their guard.

  • Vseslav Botkin

    This morning, I typed “reimagining” into a tweet about the new Gatsby flick and didn’t like the look of it.

  • Christopher

    By the way, nothing preserves and reinforces the positive functional utility of the N-word like referring to it coyly as “the N-word”. The word “n*gg*r would have withered into ridiculous obsolescence decades ago were it not for our dedicated preservationists.

  • bluebird

    many moons ago, an unfortunate restaurant reviewer at the DMN described a portion at a restaurant as niggardly, and the chef happened to be black. much hand-wringing ensued and niggardly was struck from the list of acceptable words

  • D. Shapiro

    I find “pussy” to be a far more cringe-inducing word than “pussy”. Really. Ex: a pussy sore. It’s just gross.

  • Avid Reader

    Whinge is thrown around significantly less niggardly on the otherside of the pond.

  • Rodney

    What about skinflint? Is that off limits too?

  • PeterK

    I’m gobsmacked

  • Chris


  • Helen Lovejoy

    Don’t lie … Steve Blow dropped by the office for a roundtable yesterday afternoon.