Violent Language

Violent language in this list may be explicitly or implicitly violent expressions and metaphors that are used casually and unintentionally. These examples can be easily replaced by saying something more direct.

Instead of:
Suggested Alternatives
Killing it

Great job!


If someone is doing well, there are other ways to say so without equating it to murder.

Take a shot at, take your best shot

Pull the trigger

Take a stab at

Give it a go


These expressions needlessly use imagery of hurting someone or something.

Trigger warning

Content note

"Warning" can signify that something is imminent or guaranteed to happen, which may cause additional stress about the content to be covered. We can also never guarantee that someone will not be triggered during a conversation or training; people's triggers vary widely. Content note allows the same message to be conveyed, sharing details about the information/topics to come, without implying it is an exhaustive list or implying that someone is certain to be triggered.
Rule of thumb General rule

This expression allegedly comes from an old British law allowing men to beat their wives with sticks no wider than their thumb; however, no written record of this law exists today. The earliest recording of this usage of the expression is attributed to English judge Sir Francis Buller in the 18th century; it has also been found in US court records from the 19th century.

Go off the reservation

Disagree with the group, defect from the group

This phrase has a harmful history rooted in the violent removal of indigenous people from their land and the potential consequences for someone that left the reservation.

Wife beater

White ribbed tank top, tank, undershirt

This term trivializes relationship violence.

Whipped into shape

 organize, spruce up, put in order

These alternatives can avoid evoking imagery of enslavement and torture.

Violent idioms about animals:

More than one way to skin a cat

Killing two birds with one stone

Beating a dead horse

Multiple ways to accomplish the task

Feeding two birds with one seed; taking care of two things at once

Refusing to let something go 

These expressions normalize violence against animals.