Self-Defined

A modern dictionary about us.
We define our words, but they don't define us.

Self-Defined seeks to provide more inclusive, holistic, and fluid definitions to reflect the diverse perspectives of the modern world.

With the foundation of vocabulary, we can begin to understand lived experiences of people different than us. Words can provide us with a sense of identify and allow us to find kinship through common experiences.

Ways to help

  1. Submit words and definitions through pull requests.
  2. Sponsor this work through GitHub Sponsors.
  3. Volunteer writing, design, dev help by DMing me @tatianatmac on Twitter.

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A-E

  • Ableism
  • American
  • African
  • Asian
  • Black
  • Indigenous
  • Ambulatory Wheelchair
  • Ancestors
  • Anti-
  • blackness
  • queerness
  • trans
  • Anxiety disorders
  • aromantic
  • Asian
  • East
  • South
  • Southeast
  • asexual
  • Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS)
  • assigned at birth
  • Attraction
  • Aesthetic
  • Platonic
  • Sexual
  • Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
  • Autism spectrum
  • Bias
  • Bierasure
  • Bipolar
    medical appropriation
  • Bisexual
  • Black Asian Minority Ethnic (BAME)
  • Black Indigenous People of Color (BIPOC)
  • Black
  • men (BM)
  • people (BP)
  • women (BW)
  • Brown
  • Bropropriating
  • Burka
  • Child of a Deaf Adult (CODA)
  • Cisgender
  • Climate change
  • Colonial narrative
  • Colonialism
  • colorism
  • Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • cultural appropriation
  • crazyableist slur
  • Crippled ableist slur
  • Demi
  • -boy
  • -girl
  • -romantic
  • -sexual
  • deaf and Deaf
  • Disability
  • Disabled
  • Discordant couples
  • Discrimination
  • Dominant culture
  • Dominant culture habits
  • Ehlers-Danlos Syndromes (EDS)
  • Egalitarian
  • Empathy
  • enby
  • English as a Second Language (ESL)
  • Entitlement
  • Equality
  • Equity
  • Ethnicity

F-L

  • Fat
  • -phobia
  • Shaming
  • Activism
  • Liberation
  • Fem
  • Femme
  • Gaslighting
  • Gender
  • Cis-
  • -Fluid
  • Non-conforming
  • Trans
  • -Queer
  • Gender confirmation surgery (GCS)
  • Gender pronouns
  • Genocide
  • Governmentality
  • gray ace
  • Gray asexuality
  • Hard of Hearing (HOH)
  • hegemonic
  • Hermaphrodite
  • pseudo, male and female
  • High-Functioning
  • Hijab
  • Hispanic
  • Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)
  • Homophobia
  • Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)
  • Idiot ableist slur
  • Illness
  • Chronic
  • Immigrant
  • Impact
  • Implicit bias
  • Indigenous
  • Inherent
  • Intent
  • internalized oppression
  • Intersectionality
  • intersex
  • invisible disabilities
  • Jihad
  • Lame ableist slur
  • Latinx
  • Lunatic ableist slur

M-S

  • Maniac ableist slur
  • Marginalized
  • Matriarchy
  • Medication sensitive
  • Midget ableist slur
  • Militarisation
  • Minorities
  • Minoritised
  • Misogynoir
  • Moron ableist slur
  • Neurodivergent
  • Neurodiverse
  • Neurotypical
  • N-word racist slur
  • Non-binary
  • -normative
  • Cis-
  • Hetero-
  • nuts ableist slur
  • Obese anti-fat slur
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
    medical appropriation
  • Oppression
  • Internalised
  • Other specified feeding or eating disorders (OSFED)
  • Panic attacks
  • Pansexual
  • -passing
  • cis-
  • female-
  • male-
  • white-
  • Parachuting
  • Patriarchy
  • Performative allyship
  • People of Color (PoC)
  • People with disabilities
  • -phile
  • andro
  • gyne
  • -phobia
  • Fat
  • Homo
  • Trans
  • Platonic
  • Queer
  • Polyamory
  • Positivism
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • power
  • Poz
  • Prejudice
  • Pride
  • First (Anti-Police Riots)
  • Prophylaxis
  • Pre-exposure (PreEP)
  • Post-exposure (PEP)
  • Privilege
  • Cis
  • Monosexual
  • White
  • Psych ableist slur
  • Psychopath ableist slur
  • Race
  • Racial
  • Contract
  • Formation
  • State
  • Raciology
  • Racism
  • Racist
  • R-tard ableist slur
  • Savage racist slur
  • Savior
  • White
  • Semitic
  • Serodiscordant
  • settler
  • colonial mentality
  • Sexual
  • Bi-
  • Pan-
  • assault of a minor
  • orientation
  • Socially constructed
  • Solidarity
  • Spaz ableist slur
  • -Splaining
  • cis
  • man
  • white
  • Spirit animal
    cultural appropriation
  • Stupid ableist slur
  • Systematic
  • Systemic

T-Z

  • -tard ableist slur
  • Top-down approach
  • Totemic animal
  • Tawhid
  • Tranny anti-trans slur
  • Trans
  • femme
  • -gender
  • man
  • masculine
  • phobia
  • woman
  • Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminist (TERF)
  • Tribe
  • Triggers
  • Two-spirited
  • Undetectable=Untransmittable (U=U)
  • Undetectable
  • Unqueer
  • Indigenous
  • Vertigo
  • Visual
  • Vestibular migraine
  • Violence against women and girls (VAWG)
  • Viral Load
  • White
  • feminism
  • fragility
  • -ness
  • supremacy
  • woman tears
  • people (WP)
  • women (WW)
  • White supremacist capitalist patriarchy
  • womanism
  • Women and people of colour
  • womxn

avoid—Racist Symbol

đź‘Ś [ok hand] noun

hand gesture where right thumb and right index finger form a circle, remaining fingers fan out; in American Sign Language, gesture means number nine; in diving, gesture indicates "OK" as question or confirmation; gesture is used in an innocuous children's game called "The Circle Game," where the gesture is held low—if another child looks at it, they get punched.

In 2017, the hand gesture was appropriated by White Supremacists on 4chan to mean White Power (the three fingers forming at 'W' and thumb and index forming the circle of the 'P'). It was framed as a hoax to "own" Leftists through trickery and gaslighting.

The hand gesture has been used by White Supremacists as a dogwhistle to identify other White Supremacists at rallies, in forums, and even at court hearings. In 2019, the hand gesture was added to the Anti-Defamation League's list of official symbols of hate.

Issues

While it can be argued that the symbol's origins and many of its uses do not imply racist connotations, and that the 4chan-ers "framed it as a hoax," it is undeniable that the symbol has evolved and become a gesture used sincerely by white supremacists.

The uncertainty created by the 4chan-ers is a critical part of their strategy. The strategy employs plausible deniability: Because they self-identified it as a hoax, they can fall back on that explanation. Meanwhile, if people begin to adapt the symbol, as they did, it becomes a dogwhistle for White Supremacists. It should be noted that this approach of indoctrinating symbols of hate is one long-documented, and used for the Swastika as well.

Impact

The people most vulnerable to the oppressive impact of White Supremacy will never know for certain if the symbol is being used in one of its non-violent manners or if it's being used in its racist violent manners. The oppressed must choose the option that protects them, which is typically erring on the side of caution.

Continuing to use the symbol with its non-hateful connotations to "take it back," does not eliminate its pervasive new meaning associated with White Supremacy. Instead, continuing usage only perpetuates emotional and psychological harm upon the most vulnerable and susceptable populations.

Alt Words

👍, 🆗, good, ok, or omit

Bisexual adj

of, relating to, or characterised by being sexually attracted to more than one gender.

Note

Bisexuality does not preclude attraction to non-binary or transgender people.

Further Reading

Cisgender adj

of, relating to, or characterised by being a gender that matches the gender they were assigned at birth.

The opposite of transgender.

avoid—Ableist slur

crazy noun

mentally deranged; demented; insane.

Issues

Crazy is very commonly used as an adjective to embody a vast array of ideas, often not specifically. It is used so frequently that it sometimes is a filler. Crazy can also be used in a derogatory manner for someone with mental or psychiatric disabilities.

Impact

By using ableist language, we are perpetuating violence against people who experience mental or psychological disabilities. Using this language perpetuates those systems and language of harm, regardless of our intent.

Usage Tip

Be more specific. Typically we can find an alternate definition by simply reflecting on what emotion we're really feeling.

Alt Words

abundant, bizarre, enormous, ludicrous, outlandish, ridiculous, unbelievable, unexpected, unfamiliar, unreal, scary, shocking, strange, wicked

Avoid

English as second language (ESL) noun

the teaching of English to people who speak a different language and who live in a country where English is the main language spoken

Issues

Monolinguist, English-only speakers often refer to people who don't speak English natively as "ESL" or say they are learning a "second language". More often than not, this is not true, as many people are multi-lingual with 3 or more languages

Impact

It makes false assumptions about English learners, centres English as the "default" or "expected" first language, ignoring that many people learn multiple (>3), non-English languages first.

Alt Words

English as learning-language (ELL), or non-native, or omit (because do you really know, for sure?)

Tool of Oppression

Fatphobia noun

the fear, hatred, and stigmitasation of fat people.

Tool of Oppression

gaslighting noun

psychological manipulation tactic used to abuse by instilling doubt in the victim's own thoughts, observations, feelings by denying, misdirecting, and lying to them; originated from the Gaslight play (1933) and film (1944), where a man changes the lights in the house, while denying her observations of the changes.

Impact

Gaslighting reinfoces systems of power, as gaslighting abusers will tend to be in systematically dominant positions where they are intrinsically believed over their victim (e.g., white person over person of colour, man over woman, abled person over disabled person, parent over child, manager over worker, etc). Gaslighting is an abusive and oppressive behaviour and tactic.

The abuser can become in control of the victim, who now no longer trusts their own perception. The victim can become codependent upon their abuser, and internalise .

avoid

minorities noun

the smaller in number of two groups constituting a whole

Issues

Minorities is not always accurate and is vague. As it deals with numbers, the term minorities can often be inaccurate, as is the case when speaking of communities of colour, who often outnumber white communities.

By referring to a group as 'minorities,' it can suggest the group hasn't taken initiative to show up, thereby blaming the oppressed for systemic issues that prevent their participation.

Impact

By repeatedly referring to groups as "minorities," they are being infantised to their numerical representation and made to feel minor. The vagueness also abstracts the identify of the marginalised group, making it difficult to address why they are minoritised to begin with.

Alt Words

minoritised, or omit

Better Alternate

minoritised adj

groups resulting from social constructs have grant less power or representation compared to other members or groups in society

Benefits

Minoritised places the emphasis on the power struggle, and on the systemic issues at play. It's also an adjective, which requires you to add "group" or "people" so it's people-first language

Impact

It removes the pejorative nature of "minorities".

Further Reading

Minority vs minoritize

Non-binary adj

of, relating to, or characterised by being any gender that does not fit into the male-female gender binary; an umbrella term.

For example, a non-binary person may have some gender between male and female, have multiple genders, no gender, a culturally-specific gender (e.g., two-spirit).

Note

Non-binary people may or may not also identify as transgender.

Although non-binary is commonly used as an umbrella term, just because someone identifies as a term under the umbrella, does not necessarily imply that they identify as non-binary as well. For example, someone may be agender, but not identify with the term "non-binary".

avoid—Medical Appropriation

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) noun

a mental illness usually embodied by unwanted repeated thoughts (obsession) coupled with repeated behaviour, routine, or action (compulsion)

Issues

OCD is commonly misused to highlight personality quirks or fussiness, usually involving a preference for order or cleanliness. Use of 'OCD' as a noun or adjective in this manner diminishes the actual condition, resulting in reductive and over-normalised perception of a someone with these specific mental or psychiatric disabilities.

Impact

By conflating arbitrary quirks or behaviours with OCD, we are invalidating OCD as a medical condition and the people who experience it. Generally by using medically appropriative language, we are invalidating the existences of people with OCD, minimising their experiences, perpetuating violence against people who experience mental or psychological disabilities. Using this language perpetuates those systems and language of harm, regardless of our intent.

Usage Tip

Be more specific. Typically we can find an alternate definition by simply reflecting on what emotion we're really feeling. In this case, be particularly aware if the behaviour is actually unwanted or uncontrollable.

Alt Words

conscientious, exact, fastidious, fussy, meticulous, nitpicky, particular, precise, quirky, thorough

Pansexual adj

someone who is sexually attracted to people regardless of their gender, or to people of any gender.

Polyamory noun

belief that romantic and/or sexual exclusivity is not necessary for a happy, committed relationship; an umbrella term for various types of relationships where all partners involved consent to non-monogamy, such as open relationships, polycules, throuples, group marriages, etc.

Note

One can be polyamorous despite currently being single or in a monogamous relationship.

White Supremacy Tool

performative allyship noun

when an individual or group of power/majority/privilege (e.g., white, male, abled, unqueer, etc) loudly profess(es) their actions in the name of 'allyship,' while actively conducting harm to, taking focus away from, and generally being unhelpful towards the group they claim to support, often to receive praise and attention, without taking critical action to dismantle the systems of harm.

Impact

Performative allyship detracts from the stories of the oppressed and the impact that oppression has on them in favour of the stories of the oppressors and their intent to help. The cost of performative allyship can also be that the stories of the oppressed people are appropriated, watered down, and inaccurately retold by people who should not be telling those stories.

Transgender adj

of, relating to, or characterised by a gender that does not match the gender they were assigned at birth.

The opposite of cisgender.

White Supremacy Tool

white fragility noun

the tendency for dominant white culture to respond to racism with defensive, dismissive, and angry responses; "a state in which even a minimum amount of racial stress becomes intolerable, triggering a range of defensive moves." (Robin DiAngelo).

Impact

White fragility detracts from critical conversations about the systemic oppressors at play. The cost of white fragility is that it centres the feelings of white people while ignoring and invalidating the systemic harm conducted towards people of colour. White fragility also prevents white people from doing anti-racist work to unpack their socially internalised racism.

Further Reading

White Fragility, Robin DiAngelo; White Fragility tag on The Root.

avoid

women and people of colour noun

often used as a phrase to encompass "non-white, non-men," seeking to provide solidarity for these two groups

Issues

What happens to women of colour? As a woman of colour, I am split between both women and people of colour.

Impact

As such, it elicits feelings of erasure for women of colour. It also neglects non-binary individuals.

Alt Words

people of colour and white women; people of colour, white non-binary people, and white women; find ways to reframe why this dynamic exists; or omit

avoid—Ableist slur

spaz noun

irrationally nervous person; hyperactive

Issues

The origin of the word “Spaz” is a shortened version of “Spastic.” Spastic refers to an alteration in muscle tone affected by the medical condition spasticity, which is seen in spastic diplegia and many other forms of cerebral palsy.

Impact

By using ableist language, we are perpetuating violence against people who experience mental or psychological disabilities. Using this language perpetuates those systems and language of harm, regardless of our intent.

Usage Tip

Be more specific. Typically we can find an alternate definition by simply reflecting on what emotion we're really feeling.

Alt Words

hyper, anxious, jumpy, unable to focus