Home > Contemplations > Why We Should Stop Using ‘Nazi’ To Describe Anything Else But Nazism

Why We Should Stop Using ‘Nazi’ To Describe Anything Else But Nazism


This is going to be a rant but it is truly one of my pet peeves to see people use the word nazi to describe anything but a person who is a follower of Nazi Party doctrines.

Composition and fountain pen corrections made red pen MP900439466

Something being corrected. The person doing the corrections is in all likelihood not a Nazi.

It perturbs me to no end to hear people describe others who correct their grammar as ‘grammar nazis’. They aren’t. Nazis and Hitler were the perpetrators of evil the likes of which the world had never seen before and hopefully never sees again. Don’t compare people who correct the way you spell, speak, and write  – no matter how much you hate being corrected and how belittled you feel when they do it – to the Nazi regime. Doing so makes light of the estimated SEVENTEEN MILLION PEOPLE* who were victims of the Nazis. They can be grammar sticklers or even grammar perfectionists. They aren’t Nazis.

Similarly, don’t refer to politicians like former US President George W. Bush or current Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper as a ‘nazi’ or compare them to Adolf Hitler. Don’t compare democratic politicians who don’t wage genocidal campaigns – no matter how much you hate their policies – to the Nazi regime. Again, doing so makes light of the estimated SEVENTEEN MILLION PEOPLE* who were victims of the Nazis.

Grammar Nazi Annoying Facebook girl meme

Annoying Facebook Girl. In all likelihood she is not a Nazi.

Now I’m sure there are people who are going to tell me that Prime Minister Harper and President G.W. Bush are downright evil. They’ll tell me that these world leaders did things that abrogated people’s rights in some way or another. You may be right and you may be wrong, that isn’t for me to decide and I am not going to argue the point. What I do know for certain, though, is that they haven’t dehumanized people based on their race, religion, sexual orientation, or disability. They haven’t put eugenics programs into place and inspired an entire country to do things that are downright evil. They haven’t industrialized murder, the Nazis and Hitler did.


Prime Minister Stephen Harper and President George W. Bush – both not Nazis – on July 6, 2006

The earliest reference to someone who wasn’t a Nazi being called a Nazi which I know of was by Jerry Seinfeld & Larry David in their show ‘Seinfeld’ in the episode called “The Soup Nazi.” I’m not going to pretend like I know for certain that this was the first usage of the term to describe someone who’s a stickler for getting things a certain way but it is the earliest one I can remember. Also, not going to lie, when I saw this episode and in the numerous times I’ve seen it in syndication I have laughed. Truth be told, it was a pretty darn funny episode. However, as I write this post and reflect on the use of the word Nazi to describe anything but actual Nazism I wonder if this episode wasn’t out of line in using that word in a way that it shouldn’t be used. Nazis, Nazism, and their doctrines are things to be learned about and reviled. Unless you are making fun of the Nazis for being evil bastards and just making them look foolish it shouldn’t be something to laugh about.

Remember folks, we live in a world where teens today are not aware that the sinking of the Titanic happened in real life. An astounding number of people born in the past 20 years – as evidenced by a conversation on Facebook I recently saw and a Globe & Mail article I readthought that the sinking of the Titanic was just a movie. There is a famous saying by philosopher, essayist, poet, and novelist George Santayana – “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

– George Santayana

Let’s make sure we don’t warp this important lesson of history and the relegate the horror that the Nazis visited upon humanity to a reference of people who annoy us when they correct our usage of “your” instead of “you’re.”

*Six million Jews and eleven million other people which includes groups such as Poles, Soviet citizens, Romanies (also known as Gypsies), the mentally ill, the deaf, the physically disabled and mentally retarded, homosexual and transsexual people, political opponents, and religious dissidents.

Information on Nazi murders via Wikipedia entry “Holocaust Victims” viewed on April 11, 2012.

Annoying Facebook Girl image taken from funnyjunk.com.

Book with corrections in it taken from Microsoft Office.

Picture of Pres G.W. Bush & PM Harper via Wikimedia Commons.

  1. ham
    April 22, 2012 at 12:19 pm

    “The state must declare the child to be the most precious treasure of the people. As long as the government is perceived as working for the benefit of the children, the people will happily endure almost any curtailment of liberty and almost any deprivation.”
    – Mein Kampf

    Sounds like the conservative party lately in Canada.
    So people are good to keep calling Harper a nazi?

    • April 22, 2012 at 12:36 pm

      I feel sad for you.

  2. ham
    April 22, 2012 at 1:11 pm

    You attempt to make this word “Nazi” one of reverence in the name of 17 million dead. Well our country, Canada, helped finish that war. And that country then is a far cry from what we have here now.

    Perhaps you could consider more pressing matters. Like Govt. permitted tar sand operations that use endless kms of unlined sludge pools. That are leaking into the athabasca water sheds and killing hundreds of thousands of Canadians as we speak.

    Or how the govt. has pushed through bills like bill c-10 in a time when they are apparently acting to reduce prison costs, and forcing the change onto a society with a nationally wide falling crime rate.

    There are many interesting topics that have real life, and immediate relevance. Especially when compared to what is, and will ever be, just a word.

    • Mark Hoffberg
      April 22, 2012 at 4:33 pm

      Ham, as much as people, including myself, disagree with Stephen Harper, referring to him as a nazi is just inaccurate. Dan speaks to the insensitivites of using the term nazi to describe someone, which I agree with, but the truth is their doctrines as parties are different.
      As someone who was a reform party and Canadian alliance member, Harper may have beliefs that are somewhat discriminatory, including the reduction of immigration to “preserve the Canada that we know” but he’s not loading people on trains to put them in concentration camps or systematically killing them.
      It’s with hate that people apply the term nazi to others. They may be controlling or hardasses, but unless they’re shaving their heads and getting swastika tattoos and proforming other neo-nazi behavior, they probably don’t deserve the nazi name.
      I know US media on both sides of the coin love using the term against the other side of the political spectrum, but it’s about time that we read a history book and maybe a thesaurus before we start these arguments.

      • April 23, 2012 at 12:08 pm

        Thank you Mark for weighing in and commenting. You totally understood my meaning.

    • April 23, 2012 at 12:05 pm


      I can see those issues mean quite a bit to you and I agree they are pretty important issues. You should totally blog about them and then let me know the link where your thoughts have been posted and I will be happy to read them. Until then, this here is my blog so I get to write about what I want to write about. (See how that works?) Heck, if you want, I’ll even let you guest blog right here on this blog! (Of course, I’d have to know who you really are as the contact info contained with your comment is obviously BS…all except your IP.) Obviously, I wouldn’t tolerate you calling Prime Minister Harper a Nazi were you to guest post on this site but I’m pretty much wide open to listen and publish anyone’s point of view.

      I never said that this was the most important issue facing Canada, the USA, North America or the world at large I just said it was a pet peeve of mine and something I would like to see an end to. That’s it.

      Hope you’re having a fantastic day and thanks for commenting on my blog post!

  3. syncsimon
    April 23, 2012 at 2:05 pm

    Hey Dan, have you considered that there might be an upside to the proliferation of the word, even when not strictly appropriate? Every time someone uses it, it’s an opportunity to remind people of the horrors of WWII and the Holocaust. What’s worse than using the word “Nazi” inappropriately, IMHO, is to forget about them altogether. As long as the word is with us, we are less likely to forget.

    • April 23, 2012 at 2:33 pm

      Not a bad point BUT the problem that could arise with that is that the word could lose its meaning – or even change its meaning – if we use it too much as an everyday thing. Let’s hope it doesn’t and we do manage to educate those who use it inappropriately.
      Thanks so much for the comment and for sharing your thoughts on this issue.

  4. ham
    April 23, 2012 at 5:07 pm

    Perhaps Mr. Levy it would be acceptable if we just referred to the conservative party as a bunch of Fascists, instead of Nazis. Since I really cannot argue that our Govt. has engaged in mass genocide. Mass murder would be an easy argument, genocide not so much. No one gets rich off that nonsense.

  5. Potosi
    May 8, 2012 at 7:33 pm

    It seems like
    1) you don’t enjoy figurative language and human’s capacity to use it.
    2) You are a big figurative-‘Nazi’ Nazi.

    It’s probably because you’re Canadian.

    • May 15, 2012 at 1:15 pm

      Thank you for your comment. I suggest re-reading what I wrote in this post and the cornucopia of other posts I have written in this and other spaces. I enjoy figurative language but at the same time I think there are certain things that don’t lend well to figurative language because doing so corrupts their meaning. Nazis are one of those things.

    • August 31, 2012 at 12:40 pm

      “it’s probably because you’re a Canadian”

      Har har, and it’s that kind of comment that makes you ignorant….like…dare I say it? Fascist or Nazi! Or maybe an arrogant American….ooops, sorry for the redundancy, just American should do.

      • August 31, 2012 at 12:43 pm

        Oh, and Harper and Bush didn’t have C-10 and the Iraqi War for their own gains? That’s Naziism right there. Both are technically illegal in an international sort and yet they may be waiting for their chances to become cyanide-chewing, guns blow their own brains out charred corpses like Hitler.

  6. Snow Big Tree
    November 21, 2013 at 10:25 am

    You obviously are not well educated about US history. ” They’ll tell me that these world leaders did things that abrogated people’s rights in some way or another. You may be right and you may be wrong, that isn’t for me to decide and I am not going to argue the point. What I do know for certain, though, is that they haven’t dehumanized people based on their race, religion, sexual orientation, or disability. They haven’t put eugenics programs into place and inspired an entire country to do things that are downright evil. They haven’t industrialized murder, the Nazis and Hitler did.”

    Every heard of the American Indians? Native Americans? First People? Indigenous Persons?
    Everything that happened in the Hitler era also happened here in one form of it or another. Innocents were slaughtered based on race. Women were sterilized based on race. Children were abducted and put in schools to be taught to be “good citizens” based on race. Please don’t tell me your are a Redskin’s fan. You most likely don’t know the originations of that slur.
    The point is, I don’t necessarily disagree with the intent of your article but you need to cite your facts correctly. Where there is evil based on race, these things will exist and you can’t hold our government as a shining example because they did all these things too. And before anyone can say this was 300 years ago, you need to do a little research too. These things were happening still up in to the 60’s. Many forms of this continue today!

  7. April 8, 2014 at 2:21 am

    I know you wrote this two years ago, but I just found it during a google search. Using the word nazi to describe a stickler is also a pet peeve of mine. Thank you for your eloquent arguments and taking the time to share them.

  8. May 30, 2014 at 5:07 pm

    The moment we stop wondering why, we’ve lost the opportunity to know why.

    Life’s a little bit more complex than the use of this word or that.

    Open minds do help shedding light into the darkest corners, but who holds the candle seems to be more important than what the light reveals.

    A sad notion. A very sad one indeed. @ http://justice4germans.com/2013/04/16/exposing-the-nazi-epithet-who-started-it-why-how-and-who-benefits/

  9. jujukitty
    April 27, 2015 at 11:14 pm

    You spelled Adolf Hitler (Adolph Hitler).

    • April 27, 2015 at 11:23 pm

      Thank you for the heads up! Fixed ☺

  10. Name
    June 8, 2016 at 8:25 am

    who wrote this? a Godwin-Nazi!!!?

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