A couple of weeks ago  at work, some coworkers and I got into a discussion about the term “cute”, as it pertains to adult women. The two women I was speaking with had somewhat differing views: one felt that cute is an acceptable term, depending on the usage; the other gets offended by its usage as it applies to her. I was surprised to hear this fairly wide gap in opinion about this simple little word, so I asked them why they felt the way they did. The lady who likes the term is older than the other, and for her, “cute” is a reminder of her youth. The lady who doesn’t like the term is younger, and feels as though it diminishes her and reduces her overall value and contributions as a competent adult. I started asking them what terms would be acceptable and unacceptable, and I was just really surprised by their responses.

See, to guys, all these terms – cute, hot, pretty, lovely, attractive, beautiful, gorgeous, etc. – they are all compliments, and always compliments. To women, though, it’s all in the eye of the beholder. The same word can be used by different people in different situations and be taken in completely differing ways, which confounds the hell out of guys. To be clear, we completely understand vocal inflections and sarcasm – if a person (man or woman) uses a complimentary term in an unflattering or obviously derogatory manner, we get that. But when the compliment is given in earnest, but is rebuffed due to some unknown-to-men hierarchy of acceptable descriptors, it’s confusing.

So ladies – I ask this of you. What otherwise complimentary terms do you personally dislike or find offensive, and why? Why are some terms better than others, if they’re all positive? Inform us.