Stop Using the Word "Derp"

The word "derp" appeared today on the websites of Business Insider, New York Magazine, and The New York Times—in a post by Nobel prize-winning economist Paul Krugman. This is a good sign that we should stop using it.

"Derp," a word for "stupidity," was not a particularly funny joke when it was a throwaway line in the Matt Parker-Trey Stone BASEketball. It didn't get funnier when it crossed over to 4chan and YTMND ten years ago, especially since message-board posters managed to turn it from a nonce word into one with connotations of disability. Reddit managed, somehow, to make it less funny by using it as a name and dialogue placeholder in "Rage Comics" about social awkwardness and the Friend Zone; and over the last year or so, it has successfully made a transition into wide usage among the only community of people on the internet worse than Reddit: journalists.

Seeing journalists talk about "derpy" things and "derpitude," is a little like hearing your mom adopting slightly outdated slang. It's almost sweet. At first. In small doses. But when an entire mini-debate, like this morning's between Erick Erickson, Josh Barro and Krugman, is conducted entirely in terms of "derp," it's not cute anymore. And because it's reached the final frontier of internet communities—the web's worst practitioners—it has nowhere to go. There is no lower common denominator to adopt it and signal to political bloggers that they need to stop.

So let me tell them: Stop. Please. You sound... you sound... like idiots.

Look, one of the joys of writing about people like Erick Erickson is coming up with ways to call them stupid, and being specific about the ways in which they are stupid. Instead of "derpy," you could call Erick Erickson, for example, an idiot. Or just "dense." Or a wooden-headed bigot. Or a dough-faced simpleton, or a cretinous hack, or a thick-skulled loon, or an insipid fool. You could say that his understanding of the world is simple to the point of childishness or that his resentment toward people with a full command of language is pathetic. Or you could just say "stupid"! But please. No more "derp."