Dear Apple, your dictionary is crap

This morning in my Twitter feed was a link to an article about a girl who “looked up “gay” in Apple’s dictionary while doing some work on a school project about gay history and found a shockingly offensive definition (see above, definition No. 3).”

Now, I’m always a curious sort, so I pulled out my iPhone and asked Siri to “Define Retard” – I even said it the “French” way (which, if you don’t know, when people defend the use of the word “retard”, they say “Well the French meaning is this!”…yeah…you were speaking French…riiiiiiight…)

Anyway, I asked, it looked up, then it told me what the definition was – and even Siri used the more French pronunciation.

However, I got this –


Yeah. That first definition is NOT the “French Version”.

Now, I’m not usually one to go straight to tar and feathers.  So I opened up Microsoft Word, downloaded the Bing dictionary (as opposed to the Merriam-Webster or such, I wanted to see how Microsoft defined it.)

I entered the word “retard” and got this –


They went all French with the first definition, but the second two are more interesting, as it is defined as “offensive” and “insulting” – words Siri missed out on.

Just to cover the full Holy Trinity of Computerland, I went to Google –


Google defined it as “offensive” and as a “general term of abuse” when used as a noun.

So, to sum up…

Siri defined it as a non-offensive noun first.

Bing and Google defined it as a verb first, and a noun used as an offensive insult second.

Of course, this does explain why there’s this herd of people running around going “But it’s okay to use the word retard!”  They probably looked it up on their iPhone.

You  know what’s really sad?

Thousands of special needs children use an iPad.  Special needs families are huge consumers of Apple products via the iPad, iPods that are used as little iPads, iTunes and the App store.  We have been looking to upgrade Maura’s iPad (you know, since the new iOS is going to make her 1st generation iPad obsolete…sigh…).

My people?  We’re your biggest customers.

And yet you define “retard” as a person first.  Not as an insult, or offensive slang like your competitors.  Do you know that thousands of kids who use your products have “retard” flung at them viciously?  And that you are now part of the problem because your definition makes it out to be an acceptable word?

You need to catch up Apple.  Pull your dictionary out of junior high – a “retard” is not a person of subnormal intelligence.

*ETAPeople are saying it’s just Siri, she’s not a “real dictionary” – however, when I threw a couple other slang terms at her, I got “an offensive term” and “an extremely offensive word” – also, I’ve been informed that Siri sends stuff like this to Wolfram Alpha – I went to the site, and got this – a commenter also mentioned if you go into Notes, the definition comes up comparable to the other two, so at least they got it right in one area. Thanks for the heads up!

If you want to write to Wolfram Alpha and let them know what you think about their definitions, go to  – if you want to give feedback to Apple, try this contact page

And now, since I’m getting ALL the attention, and people going “It’s just a word” at me, I must send you to Down Wit Dat, who explains why It’s Never “Just a…”  so amazingly well.  Please, read this, and understand where we on this side of the fence are coming from…