A pejorative (also term of abuse, term of disparagement, or derogatory term) is a word or grammatical form of expression that expresses contempt, criticism, hostility, disregard and/or disrespect. A term can be regarded as pejorative in some social or cultural groups but not in others. Sometimes, a term may begin as pejorative and eventually be adopted in a non-pejorative sense (or vice versa) in some or all contexts.
When a term begins as pejorative and eventually is adopted in a non-pejorative sense this is called "melioration" in historical linguistics. It may also be called amelioration, reclaiming, or semantic change. Some examples of melioration are "punk" or "dude".
Name slurs can also involve an insulting or disparaging innuendo, rather than being a direct derogatory remark. In some cases, a person's name can be redefined with an unpleasant or insulting meaning, or applied to a group of people considered by the majority to be inferior or lower in social class, as a group label with a disparaging meaning. Also, an ethnic slur or racial slur can be used as a pejorative to imply people of those groups are inferior or deficient.
- Volume 33, Number 3, May 2011, pp. 343-358. Published by ElsevierLanguage Sciences,Croom, Adam M. "Slurs." .
- Henderson, Anita. "What's in a Slur?" American Speech, Volume 78, Number 1, Spring 2003, pp. 52–74 in Project MUSE
- , 13 (1):11-32 (2014)Lingusitic and Philosophical InvestigationsCroom, Adam M. "Remarks on 'The Semantics of Racial Slurs'".
- Volume 41, Part B, January 2014, Pages 227–242.Language SciencesCroom, Adam M. "The Semantics of Slurs: A Refutation of Pure Expressivism".