A while ago, I was on an orchestra trip and I was pretty disappointed with the state of our tour bus. Rather then being modern and sleek (to be expected in Germany ), it was an old thing from what looked like the mid 80's. While expressing my distaste for the bus, I made a comment along the lines of: Now, in no way at all was I referring to the racial slur, but rather then older definition of the word: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/niggardly To my immediate embarrassment and regret, the people who happened to be around me (maybe 3) looked with disapproval and I was forced to defend my use of the word and emphasize it's former definition as well as my firm belief that racism in all forms is terrible. To what extent should words like this be used? Should the former definition of the word be dropped in order to avoid misunderstanding, hurt, and anger, or should we have a right to use words such as these in their inoffensive contexts? Did I make a horrible mistake?