Posted: 14 July 2013 05:34 AM   [ Ignore ]
Total Posts:  6241
Joined  2007-01-03

Eliza used the word bigoted in another thread. She used it precisely in the sense provided by the OED’s definition in a recent, 2008, entry:

Characterized by bigotry; obstinately or unreasonably attached to a belief, opinion, faction, etc.; intolerant towards others, their beliefs, practices, etc.

Bigotry is defined by that dictionary as:

The quality or condition of a bigot; obstinate or unreasonable attachment to a belief, practice, faction, etc.; intolerance, prejudice.

Merriam-Webster defines bigot as:

a person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especially : one who regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance

My experience is that in common usage the word is only used in a context of intolerance for another group (racism, homophobia, antisemitism, etc.), and never in the more general, “unreasonable attachment to a belief” sense. I find the more general sense incredibly useful, but I hesitate to use the word outside of racial contexts for fear of being misunderstood.

Is this a difference in British vs. North American usage?

Posted: 14 July 2013 08:01 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
Total Posts:  1594
Joined  2007-01-29

My meaning was precisely as defined in OED, as you said, Dave, and as it’s commonly used in the UK.  Despite my years on this forum, I’m mildly surprised that there’s a different connotation in the States.

Posted: 16 July 2013 10:51 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
Total Posts:  2977
Joined  2007-01-30

Yes, my take is the same as Eliza’s and I’m equally surprised that there’s a British/American difference in usage.

Posted: 16 July 2013 11:53 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
Total Posts:  392
Joined  2012-01-10

My (Leftpondian) experience is similar to Dave’s (perhaps unsurprisingly): bigoted in US usage almost always implies a dislike of a particular group, as in racism, sexism, homophobia, etc.

I first recall running into a non-icism use of bigoted while watching Blackadder (season 3).  Blackadder suggests rewarding (I.e., bribing) an MP by appointing him a high court judge, in return for supporting the prince.  The prince asks if the MP is qualified, to which Blackadder replies, “He’s a mindless, violent, bigoted, old fool.” (The prince notes the MP “Sounds a bit overqualified.")

In context, it seemed clear that Blackadder wasn’t referring to the MP being racist or sexist While the MP in question was the sort of fellow that one might expect to have less than progressive views on matters of race and sex, it would have been a nonsequitur to bring up racial or sexual bigotry.

At the time, I parsed “bigoted” to mean “one who is ruled by numerous, and ignorant, prejudices and assumptions about a great many things.”

I now suspect that that is not quite what he meant by bigoted.  Presumably, he meant that the MP had an obstinate and unreasonable attachment to the idea that the propertied, ruling elite, whether members of the aristocracy or not, are fully deserving of their wealth and privilege.  The MP probably does have many prejudices, and those prejudices are likely related to that overall worldview, but the term “bigoted” itself refers to his attachment to that view.  Or so I would now guess.