Self-Defined

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

Avoid—Ableist Term

derpy

Speech

adjective

We would recommend adding a content warning when speaking about this term. Pleaseread the guidance on how and when to warn people before using this term in any context.

clumsy, foolish, unattractive, or otherwise unintelligent act or person.

derp, derp face, herp derp, hurr durr

Issues

Derpy is very commonly used as an adjective to describe someone's clumsy or foolish behavior, occasionally that of the speaker themselves. Sometimes it is used as a direct replacement of the r-word.

It is also used to describe someone else's physical features as unattractive or akin to someone with intellectual and developmental disabilities. In imagery, derpy or a so-called "derp face", is often signified by crossed eyes, a stuck out tongue, or permanent facial differences.

Origins

The word "derp" found its first known use in the 1998 film Baseketball by the creators of the American animated sitcom, South Park, and later in South Park itself in the name of the character "Mr Derp". The creators of the show have expressed that the term is uttered when one "screws up". In these early uses the word is interchangeable with the words "duh", "hur" and "dur" that came before it, and may have directly or indirectly originated from them.

The word evolved in 4chan and other forums and began being associated with memes, where the "derpy" imagery began. It is there where it became associated with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/IDD) specifically, as people started overlaying "derp" over photographs of children with I/DD.

Impact

Regardless of whether derpy is being used to describe yourself, or someone with or without an I/DD or physical disability, use of the word contributes to the dehumanisation, stigmatisation, and negative perceptions of people with an I/DD or physical (especially facial) differences.

By using ableist language, we are perpetuating violence against people who experience mental, developmental, or physical 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 taking time to reflect on what emotion we're really feeling. If you are describing a person's silly actions or expressions use a more relevant, descriptive word.

If you are using it to describe or refer to a person's disability or physical difference, don't.

Alt Words

  • ridiculous
  • clumsy
  • foolish
  • misshapen
  • malformed
  • silly

Further Reading

You may want to add a content warning before discussing or showing imagery involving this topic, as it is a topic that can elicit unnecessary harm through inducing negative feelings, anxiety, or trauma.

Content warnings usually take the form of "Content warning: derpy" or "CW: derpy. We recommend the former when possible.

Content warnings should be given at the earliest possible opportunity. Examples of where you can do this are:

  • Articles under the byline, before content
  • Videos (with proper audio descriptions)
  • Photographs (with proper alt text)
  • Podcasts (before topic, in transcript)
  • Books (introductory page, summary)
  • Conference talks/webinars
  • Start of social media posts including this term
  • Social media posts with a link to content including this term

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