snakebitten—a euphemism? 
Posted: 03 August 2011 07:26 AM   [ Ignore ]
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Some time ago, I had some interaction with the family of a young man who in the past would have been called “retarded.”

Yesterday, I was speaking with a friend and trying to determine if someone he was speaking of was from the same family.  When I mentioned “retarded” (in the kindest possible manner) I was informed that the family preferred to refer to him and his condition as “snakebitten.”

I was curious if the term might be widespread as a euphemism for the politically incorrect terms of the past.  I suppose it is possible that snakebite might precipitate such a condition, I do not think it likely, though. 

Has anyone heard the term “snakebitten” used as such a euphemism?

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Posted: 03 August 2011 07:52 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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"Snakebitten” (or more usually, “snakebit") is well-established slang for “unlucky” (see here), sometimes tinged with the suggestion that the person described is one of those who just can’t do anything right, but I’ve never heard it specifically used as a euphemism for “retarded”. I suspect it’s a family thing, or very localized.

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Posted: 03 August 2011 07:55 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Nope! I’ve heard it to mean, as the OED puts it, “Irredeemably doomed to misfortune.”

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Posted: 03 August 2011 08:09 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Those guys really have a way with words.

Edit: I looked at the OED entry to see the first date, & noticed it actually says “irremediably”, not “irredeemably”.

[ Edited: 03 August 2011 10:42 AM by Dr. Techie ]
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Posted: 03 August 2011 12:59 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Humorously, there is quite a distinction between irredeemably and irremediably. 

I have, post-OP, spoken with other folks who know the family and the young man in question.  I am beginning to think that it is a “family thing” as Dr._T suggests.  I have seen no lack of love in the family; perhaps it affords them some solace.

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