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Grammar Nazi or Grammar Police refers to someone who habitually corrects grammar and / or spelling mistakes made by others in conversation, both on and offline. In most cases, the term carries a negative connotation of either being a buzzkiller who ruins a good joke by getting too technical or a n00b who is gullible enough to be irritated by a Grammar Trap, an intentional use of incorrect grammar for the purpose of trolling.
One of the earliest archived uses of “grammar nazi” appeared on the newsgroup alt.gothic on January 19th, 1995. The post was made by Marc Savlov, who used the phrase to call out poster Charles Burns for correcting someone else’s use of the word “thusly,” as “thus” is already an adverb and does not need the “-ly” suffix. The post generated eight replies of mixed opinions, with some making fun of the original poster and others commending his dedication to proper language.
Between 1996 and 2004, Usenet posters either called each other out for being overly harsh about other people’s spelling and grammar on alt.creative.writing, comp.sys.mac.advocacy and alt.language. During the same time period, some posters even reveled in the title, acknowledging their passion for proper language on alt.showbiz.gossip, alt.religion.wicca, alt.newlywed and comp.os.linux.misc. On October 9th, 2004, the first YTMND site criticizing grammar nazis was created (shown below), gaining more than 2,300 views as of September 2013. By 2008, the term began to appear on 4chan, as both a pejorative insult and a self-identifying term for a person upset over someone’s language.
As more and more people began embracing the term “Grammar Nazi,” the once taboo word “Nazi” became associated with fanaticism in general, spawning several derivative compound nouns in which it is used as a suffix to denote overzealousness.
- Music Nazi: A person who believes that his or her music is better than everyone else’s and thus entitled to decide who is a poser and who isn’t.
- Network Nazi: A person, usually male, who runs the Office IT in a ruthless fashion.
- Facebook Nazi: A person who goes out of one’s way to report suggestive and offensive material posted by others on Facebook.
- Health Nazi: A person who constantly provides one’s own opinions on dieting, exercise, and weight loss in an arrogant and pushy manner.
- Food Nazi: A person who insists on dictating what others should call themselves based upon their diets.
Wikipedia Nazi: A Wikipedia editor who subscribes to a ridiculously strict set of standards and frequently removes well-written articles submitted by others.
- Door Nazi: A retail business employee who checks your receipt upon leaving the store.
- Heat Nazi: A person who micromanages the home thermostat in order to maintain a budget-friendly temperature of 65 Fahrenheit degrees or less.
- Language Nazi: A person who is culturally-intolerant and complains when someone speaks in a language other than one’s own.
- Computer Nazi: A school faculty member in control of the computer lab who sets strict limits on what you can use or what you can bring into the room.
- Enviro Nazi: An environmentalist who habitually shames others for their lack of dedication.
- Forum Nazi: An Internet forum moderator who takes it upon oneself to remove posts without any forewarning or explanation.
National Punctuation Day
National Punctuation Day was established in August 2004 by professional speaker Jeff Rubin. As of September 2013, the annual event has more than 700 likes on Facebook. Inspired by errors in newspapers and magazines, fans have submitted photos of signs with improper punctuation to the site since its inception. In 2006, the holiday was moved to September 24th and has since been featured on dozens of sites for local news, magazines and mainstream news. In the early 2000s, the holiday was added to Chase’s Calendar of Events, an authoritative source on observances created in 1957.
In 2013, National Punctuation Day was featured on a number of news sites and internet culture blogs including the New Yorker, the Huffington Post, Neatorama, Jezebel’s Groupthink, The Atlantic and the Mary Sue, who highlighted a semicolon shaped meatloaf made by Jeff Rubin’s wife, Norma (shown below). On September 24th, National Punctuation Day was mentioned on Twitter more than 7,700 times and generated dozens of posts on Tumblr and Facebook.
Google Groups Archive – alt.religion.wicca: Ren -- Your Resident Grammar Nazi
Google Groups Archive – alt.creative.writing: gawd, another Spelling and Grammar Nazi
Google Groups Archive – alt.newlywed: I guess that makes me a Grammar Nazi. ;-)
Google Groups Archive – comp.sys.mac.advocacy: ATTEN Spelling & grammar Nazi Dee Was ?
Google Groups Archive – comp.os.linux.misc: I am also a Grammar Nazi, a Spelling Nazi, and a fan of the serial comma.