General Question

knitfroggy's avatar

Why do little people find the term "midget" offensive?

Asked by knitfroggy (8936points) May 4th, 2009

Midget
–noun
1. (not in technical use) an extremely small person having normal physical proportions.
2. any animal or thing that is very small for its kind.
–adjective
3. very small or of a class below the usual size.
4. being a miniature replica or model.

Dwarf
–noun
1. a person of abnormally small stature owing to a pathological condition, esp. one suffering from cretinism or some other disease that produces disproportion or deformation of features and limbs.
2. an animal or plant much smaller than the average of its kind or species.
3. (in folklore) a being in the form of a small, often misshapen and ugly, man, usually having magic powers.

Midget sounds better to me. But I guess I don’t really have any say

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16 Answers

YARNLADY's avatar

I think the current view is that short people don’t like being labled any more than overweight people do. They know they are short, and why make a big deal about it?

DeanV's avatar

Short complexes. I don’t know. It’s just a silly and overused term. And most of the time, people are joking.

justwannaknow's avatar

Just another situation of people jumping on the “political correcness band wagon… Don’t cal me….. It is like the term “backwards” is no longer acceptable for a country. You must call them “underdeveloped”. Ask a teenage girl if she would rather be called “backwards” or “underdeveloped”.

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

I have hardly ever heard midget or dwarf used in any conversations.

justwannaknow's avatar

I know some 6 foot tall guys that should be called “little”. I would rather be called a midget.

knitfroggy's avatar

I’ was watching Little People Big World recently and the dad said they preferred Little People or Dwarf which caused me to look up the definitions.

SeventhSense's avatar

I think dwarves or little people sounds like the description of mythical creatures, but apparently midget has such negative connotations to little people that they can’t stand it. Supposedly it’s almost like n*&*er to a black person.

madcapper's avatar

I like to call them dwarves… cuz then I imagine them mining treasures from beneath the earth and it makes me giggle. Elf, Gnome, Halfling, and Hobbit all are also whimsical…

Dansedescygnes's avatar

I don’t know, but I call them by what they want to be called. Ergo, I use the term “dwarf”.

I have a friend who was given a nickname that he didn’t like. He didn’t want people calling him it but it spread anyway and people call him it sometimes regardless. I never called him it because I don’t call people things they don’t want to be called. It’s pretty simple.

SeventhSense's avatar

@Dansedescygnes
You know what my nickname for you is…:P

tiffyandthewall's avatar

i don’t think it’s the denotation that many people find offensive; it’s usually the connotation. people usually use the word midget in a joking way, to make fun of people, etc.

but really i think it depends on the person. i don’t think all, well, short people? are offended by it. but i don’t know. i think it sounds a lot less insulting than ‘dwarf’ – which sounds like a mythical creature to me, or reminds me of disney; or ‘little people’ – which sounds kind of condescending. if the word ever came up in conversation with me and someone was offended, i’d just use whatever they prefer. i don’t mean it to be nasty, so they can simply correct me.

hug_of_war's avatar

Midget has a negative connatation.

Cheebs's avatar

How about “Tiny and Bold?”

MacBean's avatar

@justwannaknow Well, I’m not a teenage girl, but I was once, and I’d go for “underdeveloped.” I actually get called “backwards” sometimes and I really hate it.

robmandu's avatar

From Wikipedia

Midget is a term that was originally coined in 1865, referring to an extremely short but normally proportioned person. P.T. Barnum indirectly helped popularize “midget” when he began featuring General Tom Thumb in his circus. Dwarf was originally used to denote those with short limbs as compared to those who had proportioned limbs.

I think that if you’re a “little person” and you fall in one of those two categories, then you might care which label people use.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

Fact from fiction, truth from diction. I had to step back and think about this one. According to the definitions you gave midget does sound better, however I think those who fall under it are not looking at it going off what it says but rather what people believe it says. Because “little people” were coined by that term in sideshows it took upon some negative connotation. That happens in nationalities as well. I know younger African Americans who don’t like the term AM, they would rather go with Black and visa versa. Some want to get technical of the term and say it is because they had no direct connection to Africa or any of it’s customs that Black will suit them more. Still going further hardly anyone cares to be seen as negro. But they don’t raise a stink about the United Negro College Fund, or reference to the old Negro Baseball League.

I see midget as being more of a clinical term like negro, it isn’t like a slur that was made up. I think it comes from the cultural use of the word which was negative that stained it for many people of very small stature.

When I was a kid American born Mexicans were called Chicanos but I hardly here that and one Hispanic person found it offensive to be called that.

“Little People” is kind of a misnomer because they are just short more than they are little. A petite woman is little but she still carries the moniker of “woman”. Guess it isn’t perfect but I guess they have to be called something.

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