Urban Dictionary, an online crowd-sourced dictionary of slang words, has apologised for needless and offensive definitions of the word “Auschwitz” and related phrases, and has pledged to remove them, along with merchandise using the word.
The dictionary, which has been operating for over twenty years, contains more than eight million slang words and definitions and attracts some 65 million monthly visitors to the website, boasting 180 million page views. It functions as a platform for user-generated definitions, which are often tongue in cheek, however, its operators have readily conceded that numerous definitions of the Nazi concentration camp and related terms are needlessly offensive and should be removed.
Definitions of Auschwitz available on the popular site include describing it as “a summer camp for Jews – a Disneyland for its time”; “a place there are too many Jews”; “The happy resort for Jews during WW2”; and numerous references to flatulence.
Other terms include:
- “Auschwism”, defined as “when you’re getting roasted but you’re too socially awkward to respond”; “The hopes that all autistic people will go to a concentration camp (Aka Auschwitz)”; and “When a person is so autistic or stupid, they need to be gassed.”
- “Auschwitz burger”, defined as “when you put German bologna on Jewish rye and cook it in a gas oven”.
- “Auschwistic”, defined as “an adjective to describe someone so stupid they deserve to be put in Auschwits [sic]”.
- “Auschwitz diet”, defined as “a nutritional approach to losing weight, based on simply consuming less food.”
- “Auschwitz Express”, defined as “the 16:46 Central to Caboolture train, so name[d] because it is usually more crowded than one of Eichmann’s Auschwitz trains – although Eichmann’s trains generally ran on time.
- “Auschwitz Dining Hall”, defined as “another name for Ohio University’s Boyd Dining Hall located on the West Green. The nickname derives from the reference to the nutritionally void rations the Jewish prisoners of Auschwitz were fed under Nazi rule. Many students on West Green refer to Boyd as Auschwitz because, while Boyd is conveniently located in the center of West Green, it’s [sic] foods look just as bad, if not worse, than the food that was given to Auschwitz inmates.”
- “Auschwistic meltdown”, defined as “an autistic meltdown where you spontaneously combust into ashes.”
Further terms include “Auschwitz gas chamber”, “Auschwitz abortion”, “Auschwitz oven”, “Auschwitz pencil pusher”, and others, typically referencing flatulence, the use of natural gas or a sexual act.
Urban Dictionary also sells branded merchandise, including mugs, t-shirts and other items which carry the definitions on the website. Options include, for example, a £19 mug, £23 t-shirt or £36 sweatshirt marked “Auschwitz abs”, another of the related terms which the website defines as “a particular set of circumstances in which one has a deficient amount of body fat causing them to look like a Nazi concentration camp tenant.”
Responding to complaints about the terms and definitions, Urban Dictionary said: “Thank you for speaking up – we’re deeply sorry and honestly, we must do better. We encourage anyone to flag definitions that use hate speech.”
Urban Dictionary’s terms of service prohibits uploading material that is “detrimental to the quality or intended spirit”of the platform, and users are also able to report abusive or harmful content on the site, with entries deemed to violate policy usually removed within two days, according to the website.
When asked about the merchandise, Urban Dictionary provided a further statement: “Thanks again for holding us accountable. Every definition automatically generates options to print – we agree that it’s inappropriate for these items to be printed or even offered, and we’ve blocked the ability to do so. It may take 24 hours for pages to fully update.”
Campaign Against Antisemitism applauds Urban Dictionary for its pledge to act swiftly to remove the offensive material, and urges the operators to follow through.