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  • by Barb Shelton

5 More Sayings I'd Love to Eliminate

There are sayings in our English language that cross lines we often don't even realize exist. They might be inaccurate, or they might be impolite, crude, or disgusting. Some are even downright hurtful and insulting.

In my previous article by a similar title, I shared five sayings that fall into at least one of those categories, and I share five more with you here today, starting with one that I used most of my life...

(Note: This first one is the longest; the rest are much shorter!)



Cotton growing in the sun / 5 More Sayings I'd Love to Eliminate /

This hyphenated adjective is still commonly used today, usually along with "hands," in a derogatory way. For instance: "Get your cotton-pickin' hands off that cookie!"

Its frequent connection with the word "hands" is for a specific reason, often not realized by the one saying it. And I know this firsthand, as I myself used it for the first five decades of my life without a clue as to what I was really saying. Seriously, not even a single clue!!!

Can you guess it?

Hint: What was the motivating factor behind the Civil War?

If you're still just as clueless as I was, think harder... cuz it's not cloaked in mystery.

What category of people used to pick cotton? ... Down in the South? ... For NO pay? ... as in literal slave labor?!?!

Slaves picking cotton in cotton field / 5 More Sayings I'd Love to Eliminate /

Yes! ... The SLAVES!!!

Ooooh, my! ~ I still remember the horror I felt the moment I was jolted into the awful realization that, each time I had said "cotton-picking," I had actually been insulting these precious people!!!!!! Not intentionally, but nonetheless, those words DID come out of my mouth!

I detest racism. ANY form of it whatsoever makes me SICK!!!!! If I'm prejudiced against any group of people, it would be racists. But God's way is to love everyone, so I don't get to go there. (Or rather, I have to let Him bring me back from being there!)

People who had been living productive, free lives with their families were captured like animals in nets, torn from their beloved homelands, often from their families, or families torn apart when sold. They were hauled across the ocean in unthinkable conditions that were so horrible that many did not even live through them.

Those who survived were forced to work long, grueling days, for NO pay, living in awful conditions, commonly under masters who abused and overworked them as the plantation owners built the immense wealth of the South on their backs, giving them NO compensation for their work.

Ones who worked in the kitchen were often severely punished for eating even morsels of the food they had to handle to prepare! UUUUGH!!!

Yes, I'm aware that there were good slave owners. But if you were forced to work for someone for no pay, who literally bought and owned you, and who completely governed your life, no matter how kind the owner, I bet you'd have a very hard time calling them "good."

Painting of John Newton / 5 More Sayings I'd Love to Eliminate /

Remember the song "Amazing Grace"?

"Amazing grace,

how sweet the sound,

that saved

a wretch like me.

I once was lost,

but now am found,

was blind

but now I see."

Few have not heard it, but even fewer are aware of this song's origin...

John Newton wrote the words in 1772. Do you know what he had done that moved him to label himself as a "wretch" or as being so "blind" and "lost"? ... Well, he really was a wretch, in the worst sense of the word...

He was a notorious slave trader ~ for many years. And of the worst kind. (Not that any kind was good.) But he later converted to Christianity and, realizing the horror of his sin, he wrote this song out of a broken and repentant heart. (Click on the photo of him to read the whole story about him at Wikipedia.)

His words some years later: “It will always be a subject of humiliating reflection to me, that I was once an active instrument in a business at which my heart now shudders.”

I realize my use of "cotton-picking" wasn't nearly as weighty as what Newton did, but nonetheless, I was mortified and grieved that, every time I had said "cotton picking," I was slamming those precious people.

So I wasted no time in asking God to forgive me, and then wanted to go out and ask every person who was a descendant of the slaves to forgive me as well.

I wonder... how many people have heard me say this and did realize the meaning behind what I said? I'll never know, but if I have ever said this in your presence, will you please forgive me?


Let's make this

saying die a quick

and natural death

by simply no

longer using it.



Martin Luther posting his 95 theses to the door of a Catholic church / 5 More Sayings I'd Love to Eliminate /

The term itself ~ "Protestant" ~ is negative and contrary. The root word is exactly what it appears it might be: "protest." Okay, protesting what?

You have to know a bit of history to know the meaning behind this term. I got this from Webster's 1828 Dictionary: (which I love!)

PROT' - ES - TANT, noun - One of the party who adhered to Luther at the reformation in 1529, and protested, or made a solemn declaration of dissent from a decree of the emperor Charles V, and appealed to a general council. This name was afterwards extended to the followers of Calvin, and Protestants is the denomination now given to all who belong to the reformed churches.

In 1517, Martin Luther who was a priest and scholar, nailed to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany, a piece of paper containing the 95 revolutionary opinions that would begin the Protestant Reformation.

So, basically, a Protestant is someone who protests the Catholic Church. I totally understand why people protested the corruption going on in the Catholic church leadership back in the 1500's, and would have felt justified in using that word. But five centuries later, it's no longer going on.

And even if it was, how about if, rather than focus on what we're protesting, we focus instead on who we, as Christians, are following, which is conveniently built right in to the name of "Christian" (Christ)?


Use "Christian"

or the name of

the denomination

instead of




Neck having a spasm / 5 More Sayings I'd Love to Eliminate /

When someone does something that lacks grace, he/she is often called a "spaz."

A spasm is a "sudden, abnormal, involuntary muscular contraction." A person who's prone to spasms is sometimes disdained for being foolish looking and/or unintelligent. Similar to the word "retard" in my first blog article on this topic, spasm has to do with a lack of physical control of the body resulting from a muscular deficiency or congenital disorder or disease, or resulting from an injury.

One of my all-time favorite movies is "I Am Sam." Sam, played brilliantly by Sean Penn.

"I Am Sam" movie poster / 5 More Sayings I'd Love to Eliminate /

(Go to this page to see more

about it, including a trailer. But be sure

to come right back here!)

His daughter was just-as-brilliantly played by Dakota Fanning. The character of Sam, as well as a few of his kindred-spirited-and-bodied friends in the movie, would be considered mildly spasmodic, as they had awkward mannerisms.

Each time we use "spaz" as an insult, we're perpetuating the use of this insulting term. You can't hear my voice, so I want you to know that I'm not saying this scoldingly; just kindly. I only want us to consider that these people, despite their physical oddities and challenges, are precious ~ to God , and to anyone willing to open their heart's eyes and see beyond the physical into their hearts.

I'd love it if we could suffocate this word to death by not using it. If we need to say something, it can be said more politely, like...


"I'm so





Merry Xmas sign / 5 More Sayings I'd Love to Eliminate /

Pleeease don't feel defensive if you've ever written ~ or even if you normally write ~ "Xmas" instead of Christmas. I'm just as delighted to receive a card from you whether it said "Christmas" or "Xmas."

But, since I have the floor (or at least the screen) right now, I want to share my thoughts about this word...

It seems to me that, since the whole point and center of Christmas is ~ or at least is supposed to be ~ the birth of Jesus, the last word we should be crossing out ~ literally, with an X ~ when talking about Christmas is Christ.

It's like singing the "Happy Birthday" song, and getting to the line where we sing "Happy biiiirrrrthday, dear Sherrrrr-ieeeeee," but instead everyone sings "Happy birthday, dear SO-AND-SO..." A bit anti-climactic. At least for the celebratee.

In defense of "Xmas," I have heard that the X is replacing "Christ" with the symbol of the cross. You're welcome to go with that, but I don't buy it, I just can't accept it. An "X" is very clearly crossing something out. Besides, wrong holiday; the cross is the symbol for Easter, not Christmas.

Writing out the whole actual word is a fitting way to honor the celebratee and to also keep "Christ" in Christmas ~ literally and figuratively. How would Santa Claus feel if we called him "X Claus" or “Santa X”?


Take two

extra seconds

to write out





Stack of 5 newspapers / 5 More Sayings I'd Love to Eliminate /

This isn't one actual saying; it's a style of saying things that's been around for a long time, especially in the tabloids, but it's rampant online now, in news headlines, and especially in blog titles. Like these:

  • "5 Things That Plumbers [or lawyers, or pharmacists, or...] Won't Tell you About..."

  • "This Discovery Has Doctors Livid"

  • "The Secret NO one Knew Until NOW About..."

  • "Be the smartest person in every room"

  • So-and-so Enters the XXX Debate, Silences Every Last [Conservative or Liberal] in Less Than 10 Seconds

  • Why You've Been Folding Your Fitted Sheets All Wrong!

(Good grief!!!) These drive me batty. For two main reasons:

1) They are haughty. They make it sound like the person writing the article ~ or at least the headline ~ is much more knowledgeable than they are.

2) They are unfounded and unbelievable ~ as in you can't actually believe them. None of the above headlines could even possibly be true...

The plumbers, lawyers, and pharmacists all have secrets, and they won't tell us?!?!

The doctors are livid? Really? They probably don't even know about this.

How do "they" know that NO one knew this secret?! They'd have to talk to every person in the world!

How do "they" know I've been folding my sheets wrong? (Cuz I had actually been folding my sheets this wonderful "new" way for at least half a century!)

Every last Liberal or Conservative was silenced? Seeeeriously?! HARDLY!

To ascertain that so-and-so was the smartest person in the room, they would have to do an IQ test on every person in the room!


I don't know;

just something



Click here to read my previous Top Secret article of 5 sayings that NO one else will tell you, so that YOU can be the smartest person in the room and can stop saying things that will make plumbers, lawyers, and pharmacists livid and make you look like the dumbest person in the room!


Hexagon pic of "5 More Sayings I'd Love to Eliminate" /

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