16 Seemingly Innocent Phrases That Are Actually Quite Offensive

16 Seemingly Innocent Phrases That Are Actually Quite Offensive

There are lots of snide ways of making jibes at people, and some are more obvious than others. While it might seem like someone is being nice, they could be subtly being rude without you even realizing it. Here are 16 phrases that seem innocuous but are actually mean-spirited and offensive.

1. “You’ve changed so much.”

provided by iStock

This always makes you want to bite back, and this kind of statement only ever comes from a person who peaked in high school. Drawing constant comparisons to who you were when you were much younger is just pointless. Everyone should value the ways that they’ve evolved over the years.

2. “You’ve lost so much weight!”

provided by iStock

People sometimes think this is appropriate to say in public, particularly when they don’t know you very well. In not knowing your boundaries, your relationship with your body, or understanding why your weight has fluctuated, they put you on the spot and it’s highly inappropriate. Worst of all, they think they’re complimenting you, but their mindset is based on a very old-fashioned value set.

3. “At least you’re dressed professionally this time.”

provided by iStock

People love a backhanded compliment. It’s as if they think you don’t hear the negative implication. These are the kinds of offensive phrases people who are deeply insecure whip out in order to make themselves feel like they’re in a position of authority. Ignore them because they’re obsessed with the tiny details of your life — you have bigger fish to fry.

4. “How is your little job going?”

provided by iStock

It’s highly offensive when people use demeaning and dismissive language like this. They clearly think that their soul-crushing corporate hustle game is more important than yours. Push back and ask them when they last had annual leave requests approved.

5. “Do you think you’ll get any jobs with that degree?”

provided by iStock

No, Grandma, you’re right — I did zero research into a huge life choice. I think not! How dare people, typically the older generation, come in hot with questions like this? Their disapproval is transparently clear and it’s offensive that they think you’re careless.

6. “I’m glad you at least feel fulfilled.”

provided by iStock

You can just picture the self-righteously sanctimonious expression of the person saying this. People feel like it’s okay to dump their own job anxieties into their projections of you. It’s so frustrating. The judgment in this statement is heavy and it’s really gross.

7. “It’s been ages since you showed your face.”

provided by iStock

People who don’t know your life have a habit of talking a lot of BS. They don’t know if you’ve just come out of the other side of a depressive episode, are dealing with grief, or have just been busy! It’s silly that they make assumptions and creepy to remind everyone at the table that you’ve been absent.

8. “Sally’s been sleeping around a bit, hasn’t she?”

provided by iStock

In 2024, surely we all know this isn’t acceptable anymore. People who want to bring gossip and negative energy about your friends into a conversation with you are simply deluded. Shut down their offensive questions.

9. “Are you still seeing whatshisface?”

two friends chatting in a kitchen

provided by iStock

This person has made no attempt to hide their disdain for your relationship. They now disrespect you as well. Tell them your relationship is none of their business and get out of there. If they don’t like your partner, that’s cool — they’re not dating them!

10. “Managed to find a better apartment yet?”

provided by iStock

Just because this person has the Bank of Mom and Dad to fund their rent payments, doesn’t mean it gives them license to comment on your renting situation. It’s mean-spirited to ask questions that imply that they think you live in a dump.

11. “Glad you didn’t feel the pressure to clean up.”

man giving woman advice

provided by iStock

Oof. First of all, it’s very likely that you did neaten the place up. Second of all, no real friend will ever say this — it’s snide and snippy. If a person says this to you, they shouldn’t be invited back.

12. “It’s best if I do the cooking this time.”

guy cooking woman dinner

provided by iStock

A slap in the face if there ever was one. This is typically a phrase issued by a (potentially well-meaning) parent who hasn’t learned the proper boundaries with their children yet. While they may think of their kids as still being young, it doesn’t make it less offensive! Remind your mother that you are, in fact, a moderately capable human being.

13. “What’s it like to be single?”

couple on dinner date

provided by iStock

This phrase smacks of gawping passers-by at the zoo, assessing some exotic species of rat that they haven’t come across yet. It’s patronizing and acts as though it’s unnatural or newsworthy to be single. Nonsense! They haven’t been in a relationship since coming out of the womb, after all.

14. “Are your parents still doing your laundry?”

couple eating dinner date

provided by iStock

It’s always the rich brats who think they’re doing some superior socio-political commentary by asking this, as if they aren’t on their parents’ payroll, staying at their beach house in Miami. Fine, let the people with far too much privilege throw rocks in their glass houses.

15. “Come to Pilates this week. It’ll do you good.”

how to be good friends with your ex

provided by iStock

This is more insidious and subtle than it seems. On the surface, it’s a kind offer. However, all it does is allow the person to feel good about making this offer to you as their community service. They secretly implying that you need to be “fixed” by their idea of performative wellness, and it’s just not right.

16. “Fallen off the wagon again?”

provided by iStock

I cannot fathom how some people think it’s appropriate to comment on people’s addiction journey, particularly if they’re on a downward turn. Offering support in a safe space is one thing, but bringing it to everyone’s attention is embarrassing, offensive, and frankly dangerous.

Enjoy this piece? Give it a like and follow Bolde on MSN for more!

Hannah has a Masters degree in Romantic and Victorian literature in Scotland and spends her spare time writing anything from essays to short fiction about the life and times of the frogs in her local pond! She loves musical theatre, football, anything with potatoes, and remains a firm believer that most of the problems in this world can be solved by dancing around the kitchen to ABBA. You can find her on Instagram at @_hannahvic.