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Insistent Terminology

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Soap: What sort of pub is this then?
Barkeep: It's a Samoan pub.
Bacon: ...What's that?
Barkeep: It's a cocktail. You asked for a cocktail.
Bacon: No, I asked you to give me a refreshing drink. I wasn't expecting a fucking rainforest. You could fall in love with an orangutan in that.
Barkeep: You want a pint, go to the pub.
Bacon: (Beat) ...I thought this was a pub.
Barkeep: It's a Samoan pub.

Hey, we aren't "describing" Insistent Terminology, we are "articulating" it!

A character constantly corrects a word (fine, if you say it's called a term, then it's called a term) used in their introduction or any speech that otherwise refers to them, but never seems to stop (all right, keep) anyone else from using it. Sometimes this is because they could be called something people see as unflattering or a poor choice of words.

Occasionally this extends into a species joke, where an alien or funny animal corrects others about some stereotypical aspect. Can also be done with an ethnic joke where the person has to correct others about some stereotypical aspect of nationality.

Subtropes to this are as follows:


Compare/Contrast with She Is Not My Girlfriend (character insists a romance does not exist, sometimes an overlap when "friend" is substituted), Do Not Call Me "Paul" (character has a name they do not wish to be known by), Blatant Lies (character insists to make an affirmation that obviously isn't real), Don't Call Me "Sir" (character insists another not be formal), They Call Me MISTER Tibbs! (character insists another uses a formal/informal title in conversation), You Keep Using That Word (a character corrects or points out another character's repeated word misuse), Pronouncing My Name for You (when a character insists on others getting the pronunciation of their name correct/the way they want), and Pretentious Pronunciation (character wishes to class up something by "pronouncing it poshly", overlaps if they insist on their pronunciation).

Example Subpages:

Other Examples:

    open/close all folders 

  • An M&M's ad featured a PSA on how people insist what their jobs should be called:
    Girl: I'm not a babysitter; I'm a domestic caregiver.
    Man: I'm not a clown; I'm a child entertainer.
    Red: I'm not a plain M&M; I am a milk chocolate M&M.
  • Pearl Drops isn't a "toothpaste", it's a "tooth polish".

    Audio Plays 
  • Big Finish Doctor Who, The Last Adventure: In The End of the Line, Norman keeps telling people that he is a 'senior customer service manager'; not a 'conductor', a 'ticket collector', or any of the other titles people address him as.

  • Scottish comedian Danny Bhoy once ran into a renowned Bollywood director at a bar, and wondered if he could ask him a question about Bollywood. The director became very angry and said that he considers "Bollywood" an offensive term, and that the proper term is "Indian Cinema". Danny profusely apologized, saying he had no idea, and wondered if he could still ask his question. The director gives him permission, so Danny asks "Why is... Indian Cinema... shit?". Needless to say, the director wasn't any happier now that Danny was using the proper term.

    Comic Strips 

  • In one American folk tale, it's said that the Chinese used to give extravagant names to their firstborn sons but very plain names to their younger children. So when Chang, the second-born, sees his brother, Tikki-tikki-tembo-no-sa-rembo-chari-bari-ruchi-pip-peri-pembo, fall into the well, he tries to tell his mother... only to be repeatedly told to give his brother the proper respect by saying his name properly. In the aftermath (the kid was alive, but suffered a terrible cold), the Chinese culture changed to where even firstborns had short, sensible names... like Chang.
    • "Tikki tikki tembo-no sa rembo-chari bari ruchi-pip peri pembo" was the first child's name, according to The Other Wiki. While claimed to be Chinese, about the only thing anybody agrees on about the tale's origins is the impossibility of it being Chinese.
    • In the original version of the story, Tikki-Tikki-Tembo died because his brother kept running out of breath trying to say the absurdly long name and had to start all over again each time he tried to say it.
    • It may originate from the Japanese folktale/comedy piece of Jugemu... short for Jugemu Jugemu Gokō-no surikire Kaijarisuigyo-no Suigyōmatsu Unraimatsu Fūraimatsu Kuunerutokoro-ni Sumutokoro Yaburakōji-no burakōji Paipopaipo Paipo-no-shūringan Shūringan-no Gūrindai Gūrindai-no Ponpokopī-no Ponpokonā-no Chōkyūmei-no Chōsuke.
    • The story has been retold numerous times, both by word of mouth and in published form, and has acquired a large number of variations because of it. Versions differ on whether the child lives or dies, and the specific manner in which his rescue is delayed varies as well (though it is always due to multiple repetitions of the very long name). The various names attributed to the unfortunate kid include Nikki Nikki Tembo No So Rembo Oo Ma Moochi Gamma Gamma Goochi, Sticky Sticky Stumbo Nos E Rumbo E Pro Pennyo Hara Bara Brisko Nicky Prom Po Nish No Menyo Dumbricko, and Ikky Bikky Stumbo Nozo Rumbo Addy Baddy Basco Tana Rama Tasco, among others. There are even non-Chinese versions, which in retrospect show their roots a bit, such as "Eddie Coochie Catchie Cama Toka Nera Toka Noka Sama Kama Wacky Brown".


    Puppet Shows 
  • In "Music to My Ears" from Bear in the Big Blue House, Ojo, Pip and Pop don't have pan lids and a pot for their "orchestra," which is not a band. They have "cymbals" and a "drum." And Ojo is their "constructor," who helps them to make musical "combustions."
  • On "Rabbit's Happy Birthday Party" from The Book of Pooh, Pooh and Piglet get lost while trying to get to Rabbit's house. Pooh, however, assures Piglet that they're not lost. They just have no idea where they are.
    Piglet: (sighs with relief) At least we're not lost. ... But, uh, what will we do?

  • Mrs. Banting in The Men from the Ministry is not Ministry's janitor or a charwoman, she's a hygiene operative.
  • In the Charlie's Angels episode "Toni's Boys" strip club owner Jade Allen says that Arnie's an exotic dancer and not a stripper when she, Kris and male Angel Bob Sorenson are watching him rehearse Kris than agrees that's a better job title:
    Jade: Arnie's my class act.
    Kris: Yeah, a real Fred Astaire!
    Bob: He's a male stripper.
    Jade: Er, he prefers to be called an exotic dancer.
    Kris: Oh, yes. It's much better.
  • Dead Ringers: Jeremy Corbyn insists people did not quit the Labour Party because of his leadership (or lack thereof). It's just a string of "conscious unshufflings".
  • One of the John Finnemore's Souvenir Programme Train Driver/Train Manager skits has the driver winding up the train manager by concluding a passenger announcement with "And when I say train manager, as we all know, I basically mean ticket inspector." The train manager insists that he is not a ticket inspector.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The rules of Clue make a distinction between a Suggestion, in which a player is simply... suggesting a theory and seeking evidence to the contrary, and an Accusation, an all-or-nothing action after which the accusing player will either win the game or be eliminated from play.
  • In Fading Suns, despite being for all intents and purposes a House, the term is "the Hazat", not "House Hazat". This originated as an Appropriated Appellation, with the other Houses not viewing the Hazat as fully worthy of membership, and now lingers as an excuse to start fights, which is something the Hazat enjoy quite a lot.
  • The Scorpion Clan of Legend of the Five Rings do not have ninja. They have shinobi. Only those jerks in the Spider Clan have ninja.
  • Rampant in Mage: The Ascension. First, you have the terminology split between the Council of Nine Traditions and the Technocratic Union — "Enlightened Science" versus "Magic," "Reality Deviant" versus "Mage," and so on. Then, you get into the hairsplitting between a given Tradition or Convention over specific items — there are four different terms for Paradox amongst the Technocrats (only Iteration X and the NWO use the same term), each group has its own specific term for an Avatar, and so on.
  • In Pathfinder, some of Asmodeus's knights call themselves paladins. Likewise, many paladins across multiple settings refer to themselves as knights, extending to Dungeons & Dragons. The class that is often attributed to be the representation of a basic knight is internally called a cavalier, even if the term is never used in-setting.
    • Both games' bestiaries continue to textually describe gnolls as being a "hyena-headed" race, suggesting a case of Non-Human Head. Despite that, both the accompanying illustrations and all adventures involving them always depict gnolls as being full Funny Animal (well, intimidating more than funny) hyenas.
  • Warhammer:
    • In the prodigious backstory of the game, there was once a great war between the elves and the dwarfs. While the war was inevitable due to deep social, economic and cultural differences, an overly arrogant elven king and some too-stubborn dwarf lords, helped with a dark elven False Flag Operation, the straw that broke the camel's back was when said elven king had the dwarven emissary to his court shaved for his own amusement. The subsequent war is known as "the War of Vengeance" to the dwarfs, who do not take kindly to use of the more common elven term, "the War of the Beard".
    • Empire wizards who study the Lore of Death are not Black Magic users but Amethyst Wizards. This is a very important distinction in a setting where The Dark Side exists and is a real threat for wizards. Studying actual Black Magic and Necromancy inevitably corrupts wizards and drive them to do bad things to humanity at a whole, while Shyish (the Wind of Death) will at worst turn you slightly fatalistic and give you a taste for Gallows Humour.

  • Les Misérables: In response to being addressed by his prison number (24601), Valjean says "My name is Jean Valjean." Conversely, Inspector Javert makes a point of calling Valjean "24601" on several occasions.
  • In the musical version of The Scarlet Pimpernel, Englishman Sir Percy Blakeney (a.k.a. the Scarlet Pimpernel) continually refers to his rival, the Frenchman Chauvelin, as "Mr. Shovelin".
  • The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee: William Barfée constantly reminds Panch and Peretti that his name is pronounced Bar-FAY. There's an acute accent.
  • An old Vaudeville joke involves a man who thinks he's found his long-lost friend. The straight man says nothing except "I'm not Rappaport", thereby giving the joke its name. It also inspired a successful play in The '80s as well as a film starring Walter Matthau.
    Joker: Hey, Rappaport! I haven't seen you in ages. How have you been?
    Straight man: I'm not Rappaport.
    Joker: Rappaport, what happened to you? You used to be a short fat guy, and now you're a tall skinny guy.
    Straight man: I'm not Rappaport.
    Joker: Rappaport, you used to be a young guy with a beard, and now you're an old guy with a mustache.
    Straight man: I'm not Rappaport.
    Joker: Rappaport, how has this happened? You used to be a cowardly little white guy, and now you're a big imposing black guy.
    Straight man: I'm not Rappaport.
    Joker: And you changed your name, too!
  • This act was then turned on its head by French Canadian absurdist comedy duo Les Denis Drolet, where one of the two would insist the other is named "Jacques" despite the other's protestations that his name is "Jean", and they would argue back and forth like this for a couple minutes until "Jean" finally realizes he'd been mistaken and his name was indeed "Jacques".
  • In Black Friday, Tom would like you to know that he doesn't suffer PTSD flashbacks; he remembers bad things vividly. Also, Linda is not in charge of a cult, she's in charge of an exciting new religion!

    • Berix in Bionicle: The Legend Reborn isn't a thief; he's a "collector"!
    • Real-life Bionicle example, no longer in effect: the Toa carried tools, not weapons. LEGO was very cautious about this, because the word "weapon" apparently carries a less family-friendly meaning. When their violence-policy changed around 2006, it became free to use, and, just as well, the storyline suddenly became a lot more Darker and Edgier.
  • You don't have Legos; you have LEGO® Bricks or LEGO® toys. This is a little bit of Stuck on Band-Aid Brand.
  • Toys such as G.I. Joe and the Transformers, are often marketed for boys, with a claim that they are definitely not dolls (despite matching every description and definition of Dolls. Instead, they are referred to as "action figures. After all, dolls are toys that girls play with. The term "action figure" was originally coined to describe the first 12-inch GI Joe toys.
  • Legally, Transformers do not transform, and you will get in big trouble with Hasbro if you say they do. They "Convert" from one mode to another, and the difficulty rating theoretically measures difficulty of "conversion". The reasoning is if Transformers "transform", then "Transformers" is just a generic name for the type of toy they are, and thus cannot be preserved as a trademark. But if it "converts", then the generic term for transforming robot action figures is "converters", of which Transformers is one of the most successful brands. This is mostly ignored by the fiction, although there are points where Hasbro will step in. This can lead to some very silly situations, whether it's Optimus Prime being known for the order "Transform and roll out!" or the Magic: The Gathering cards having to call flipping the card from robot to vehicle or vice versa "converting" even though the game has used "transform" to refer to flipping cards between two states, printed on opposite sides, for a decade.

    Web Animation 
  • FreedomToons: In "Noah's Ark 2018" the Hipster in charge the ark claims that it's not an Ark but an "Authortarian Resistance Carrier", until Seamus points out that Islam has the Noah's ark narrative at which point she admits it's an ark.
  • Red vs. Blue:
    • Donut insists that his armor is not pink; it is lightish red.
      "They have a word for that. PINK!"
    • And Doc isn't a doctor. He's a medic. He doesn't actually heal you; he just makes you more comfortable while you die.
  • The "Só Levando" series.
    • In a season, a hospital was illegally recycling gauze. The employee in charge of collecting the used gauze insisted on describing his job as a "gauze collector" but everybody else called him a garbageman.
  • RWBY:
    • Bartholomew Oobleck is to be addressed as Doctor, not Professor. He worked hard for his PhD.
    • Neptune's not a nerd, he's an intellectual.
    • It's not a dress, it's a combat skirt.
  • If the Emperor Had a Text-to-Speech Device:
    • When dealing with the Emperor, it's never just Horus; it's always Fucking Horus. He has good reasons to be mad even to this day, however.
    • Marneus Calgar, the Chapter Master of Ultramarines, is not Marneus Calgar — he's Papa Smurf.


Video Example(s):


A ''Companion'' Not A ''Pet''

Jewel is shocked that Blu likes the enclosure they are in and says that she wouldn't expect a pet to understand which Blu responds to by saying that he is not a pet but a companion.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

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