Self-Defined

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

Avoid—Medical appropriation

sane

Speech

noun

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.

of sound mind, mentally healthy

Issues

While "insane" might seem more obvious to people as an ableist word to use, the subtle connotation that sanity is good implicitly suggests that insanity, its opposite, is bad.

Connoting sanity (which is an assessment of a person's neurological status—a medical condition that largely can't be changed) with being well-thought out, reasonable, sensible (or mindful of an event or series of events) reinforces the ableist idea that sanity (being neurotypical or mentally well and abled) is good, and its opposite of insanity (being neurodivergent or mentally ill and disabled), is bad.

Impact

Using "sane" reinforces the system that excludes mentally ill and disabled people, reinforcing negative biases against them. Using this language causes harm to mentally ill, neurodivergent, and disabled people.

By using this 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 taking time to reflect on what criteria we hope our test can meet and what kind of feedback we're hoping to gain.

Read also

Alt Words

  • logical
  • mindful
  • reasonable
  • sound
  • thoughtful
  • well-conceived
  • well-constructed
  • well-tested

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: sane" or "CW: sane. 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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