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Australian Baffled After He’s Called Out By American Coworkers For Casually Using The Word ‘C*nt’

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Even when moving to countries with the same language, expatriates still often find some conversations getting lost in translation.

Even if the basics and fundamentals of their shared language remain the same, there might be some terms which aren’t used in both countries, or might have a different meaning.

Americans might be surprised to find what’s on their plate when they order “chips” for example.

Things took a somewhat more serious turn for Redditor Used-Pair-4465, who casually used a term word mingling with colleagues which he claimed to be a harmless moniker in his native Australia, but simply isn’t accepted in polite conversation in the United States.

Worried about how this affected his relationship with his colleagues, the original poster (OP), took to the subReddit “Am I The A**hole” (AITA), where he asked fellow Redditors:

“AITA for saying an inappropriate ‘slur’ around my friends from a different country?”

The OP explained how he became persona non grata at his office in a short, concise post:

“I (27 M[ale]) am an Australian who recently moved to America for work.”

“Spending my whole life in Tasmania there is a lot of Australian slang that is just normal for us to say in conversation that would make no sense to an American.”

“Specifically, in Australia we use the word ‘c*nt’ in an almost endearing way around our friends and family that in no way is an insult.”

‘However, it seems Americans don’t see it like that.”

“Last week at after work drinks, everything was going fine.”

“We were chatting, drinking, the usual.”

“I think one of my co-workers cracked a joke and I said something along the lines of ‘haha- funny c*nt’, which I totally thought would come across as a compliment or a joke or something and in no way did I mean to offend him.”

“There was a little pause in conversation but no one said anything about it at the time.”

“However, the next morning I woke up to find I had been removed from the work messenger drinks group and I had a dm from the coworker that read the following:”

“‘Hi Gary’.”

“‘I really do not appreciate you calling me a c*nt yesterday’.”

“‘I don’t know what I did to you’.”

“‘It’s not exactly funny to throw around slurs at a work gathering – I have discussed this with the others and we think it’s best you don’t come out with us on Fridays anymore’.”

“I did not know that Americans think c*nt is a slur’.”

“AITA and how do I fix my relationship with my team?'”

Fellow Redditors weighed in on where they believed the OP fell in this particular situation by declaring:

  • NTA: Not the A**hole
  • YTA: You’re the A**hole
  • ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
  • NAH: No A**holes Here

The Reddit community was somewhat divided on whether or not the OP was at fault in this unfortunate scenario, though everyone agreed an apology was necessary.

Many felt that the OP’s mistake was genuine and this was clearly a cultural difference which he could rectify with his colleagues with a sincere and profuse apology.


“NAH, just a huge cultural gap.”

“That word is considered seriously offensive in the US.”

“Because my mom moved to NZ for about 15 years and absorbed a lot of the slang, I learned to accept that it has totally different uses depending on context but most people in the States will be truly hurt and/or angry.”

“I do not think you’re an asshole in this but you must proceed as though you were.”

“Apologize profusely, don’t try to justify, acknowledge that you failed to consider that there would be words that are fine in Australia that are not ok here and ask for another chance, and do your level best to eradicate that word from your normal vocabulary.”

“At least around coworkers while in the states.”- rapt2right

“Just apologize, explain the context and NEVER say it again because now you know it’s offensive.”-LouisV25

“Sorry mate.”

“I’m Aussie and live in the US and it’s like the biggest faux pas.”

“The first time I said it, literally everyone in the room breathed in.”

“Just be completely honest, explain the cultural difference and that it will never happen again.”

“Do not ever say it again around people.”

“My American bf loves when I go full Aussie on FaceTime and say it but he was first shocked too.”


“It’s an honest mistake.”- kezzwithak


“You didn’t realize how offensive ‘the C word’ is in the US.”

“However, just because you didn’t have bad intentions doesn’t excuse the very hurtful impact the word had.”

“So, just profusely apologize, explain the cultural difference, and don’t use the term going forward when you’re not sure how it will be received.”

“Hopefully, they’ll be understanding.”- bee456654

“I am an American that lived in Australia for a year.”

“Cunt is definitely not a socially accepted word here in the states for the most part.”

“Just explain and apologize.”- StrayCatThulhu


“But yeah, that word’s seen as VERY derogatory in America, though I wouldn’t call it a slur.”

“Just explain that it’s a cultural difference and you didn’t realize the connotation outside of Australia and move on.”- stellforstar


“When I saw OP was Australian and living Stateside, I KNEW that the word in question would be ‘c*nt’!”

“Maybe this link might help put the word into context.”- Conscious_Air_2466

Others, however, including a number of fellow Australians, were less sympathetic, feeling that the OP used a word which should never be used in casual conversation, and claiming ignorance being Australian didn’t cut it.


“As a fellow Aussie, I am so sick of people pretending that this term is so common that EVERYONE uses it, and there’s no way to know it’s not generally acceptable.”


“There are plenty of people in Australia that you’d never use this term with.”

“You know damn well that this term would not be used in a daytime TV show, and that it would be censored if referenced during news bulletins etc, and that it works be a firing offense if used in most workplaces.”

“You are from Tassie, not Mars.”

“And you’re 27, not 12.”

“Surely you’ve had enough exposure to fellow adults to know what acceptable behavior is.”

“Plus, you’re visiting another country, is basic courtesy to find out the cultural differences.”

“Sounds like you’re one of those people that wants to use cultural stereotypes as the basis for their personality.”- tigestoo

“Aussie here, and would never dream of saying that to a work colleague.”


“Or any colloquial term that could be seen as being offensive in any way.”

“Context matters.”

“I know some people use it amongst their mates, and that’s OK, but it isn’t as ubiquitous as you think it is.”


“Apologize and never do it again.”- Puskarella

“I’m from 28 New South Wales Australia.”

“And you dead set know that cunt is offensive.”

“You can say it to your really close friends, but you would never say it to people you’re not close to, the older generation etc.”

“And you would know its offensive to other countries especially unless you live under a rock.”

“Your palming this off like you didn’t know and you absolutely did.”

“YTA.”- findingorion123

“As a fellow Aussie I’ve gotta go with YTA.”

“C’mon man, you know bloody well how that word goes outside of Australia.”

“It would have been a bit of a cringe moment in Australia.”

“Be honest with yourself, were you playing up your Aussie-ness for the setting?”

“We’re Australian, not aliens.”

“You can’t really be that shocked that a woman was unhappy you called her a c*nt.”

“Even in a casual Aussie setting it’s a bit different for women.”-YoyBoy123


“Even in Australia being an Australian even I wouldn’t use it in a work group unless I knew them REAL well – and I have the mouth of a drunken sailor.”

“Also even here there are absolutely demographics that would have a problem with it, even socially.”

“But you should explain the cultural difference and move forward with apology.”

“Soft YTA.”-Straight-Section6109

“I’m Australian, too.”

“C*nt isn’t some harmless throwaway word and you know it.”

“Apologize immediately and don’t make excuses like ‘bUt I’m AuStRaLiAn’.”- jessie_monster


“As a fellow Australian, I can confirm this word is used way more often than it maybe should be.”

“HOWEVER, it is still considered to be mainly an insult even here in Australia and everyone knows to be careful about who you say it to, because not everyone thinks it’s funny.”

“And every single basically educated Australian also knows it isn’t appropriate in a work setting, unless you work maybe in a warehouse or construction site, and even then…”

“No excuse to use this in a work setting.”

“The excuse of ‘but I’m Australian’ doesn’t cut it.”-Junglerumble19

Even if it is used more casually in his native Australia, one can’t help but think the OP didn’t know that the offending word doesn’t exactly come with nice connotations, and could have thought twice before using it.

That being said, it also seems that he is indeed repentant about causing offense to anyone, and will hopefully be more careful and sensitive going forward.

Which will ideally begin with a profuse apology to his colleagues.

Written by John Curtis

A novelist, picture book writer and native New Yorker, John is a graduate of Syracuse University and the children's media graduate program at Centennial College. When not staring at his computer monitor, you'll most likely find John sipping tea watching British comedies, or in the kitchen, taking a stab at the technical challenge on the most recent episode of 'The Great British Baking Show'.