Oops: Is ‘bro’ offensive?

U mad, bro?
U mad, bro?

Last week, I wrote two different posts mentioning a podcast I’ve been listening to. And in one of the posts, I referred to the hosts as bros.

This term, “bro” was not taken very well by said hosts, who called me out on Twitter, saying it was a “patently ridiculous” way of describing him.

Wait, is “bro” a complete dis? I definitely never thought of the word as something negative; I thought it was just a way to describe someone as a true guy; a typical dude; you know, a bro. Obviously, I like the podcast, or else I wouldn’t spend hours listening to back episodes in order to catch up.

At first, I kind of thought the host was joking with me, but he kept at it, and it was starting to get a little weird. I said I didn’t mean it as an insult, and I definitely didn’t, but he kept on with the badgering. I stopped replying and started Googling – is “bro” an insult?

From Dictionary.com, bro means, “1. short for brother, 2. Brother (used before a first name when referring in writing to a member of a religious order of men), 3. a male friend (often used as a form of address), and 4. a young man, especially one who socializes primarily with his male peers and enjoys lively, unintellectual pursuits.”

Ok, so definition number 4 isn’t so great, but obviously this guy is smart, or else he wouldn’t have his own business, which runs successfully (or so I understand).

In 2013, NPR did a little study on the term “bro” in light of Ryan Lochte’s popularity (JEAH! I love him!). What they found was that a “bro” could be several combinations of jock, dude, stoner, and prep. See, the complex venn-diagram of broism.

JEAH, a venn diagram on bros!
JEAH, a venn diagram on bros!

On one hand, sure, I hate it when people leave mean comments on my blog (I often don’t approve them), or misunderstand what I’m trying to say. As a creative, it’s frustrating, and it’s easy to pop-off via social media and set someone straight.

But on the other hand, it looks bad. All press is good press, right? So maybe I used the wrong word, but he still got two free shout outs for his podcast – again, a podcast I really like. If his business is teaching other men how to succeed at life, is that something he would recommend his clients do, hound people on Twitter?

Doubt it.

So, I didn’t mean to call him a bro in a bad way. But perhaps the truth hurt? Who knows. And I’m sure this blog post won’t clear the air any further.

To me, a word is what you make it; it’s the meaning put behind it. And most of the time, I’m lighthearted. In the end, I still think the podcast is worth listening to; but I learned my lesson about mentioning it.


  1. Nathan Barr

    Oh no. Did someone get their feelings hurt?

    I do know that some people take offense to it, but since not everyone does, how are you to know that? I’m tired of this mentality that is developing that seems to say we need to walk on eggshells around everyone because you never know what might or might not bother someone or hurt their feelings. The day any adult lets words bother them is the day that invalidates them in my eyes. I didn’t read the blog to which you are referring, but I’ll find it – just so I know what podcast to avoid. I make it a point to not support such people.

    1. thebitterlemon

      I agree. Especially since I told him I didn’t mean it offensively. The host’s voice sounds just like Adam Devine’s, who I also would describe as a bro, and I completely love him! What gives?!

      1. Nathan Barr

        I’m not even going to pretend to understand what makes some people more mentally weak than others. I think a lot of it comes from how we were raised. My parents did more than just tell me the old “sticks and stones” rhyme; they showed me how to not get my feelings hurt every time somebody sneezed. When I did get upset as a child, they taught me how to think logically and react rationally. That isn’t the case with everyone anymore. Too many people are raised in coddling environments that supposedly boost their self esteem. Instead of boosting it, though, it seems to make them hypersensitive to anything that can even be misconstrued as criticism, probably because they aren’t used to dealing with it.

  2. Steven Hernandez

    I can see how some people would take offense to it. That word usually implies someone being immature or dumb, almost being lumped into the ” big dumb jock” stereotype. At least that is the impression I get whenever I hear that word. It’s not flattering to be lumped in a particular category when there is more to a person than how they look, how they act, what they aspire to be, etc. Labels usually limit what we think of someone, and unfortunately those limits are what stick to those words and labels and give that impression of someone even if that’s not what we meant by using that word.

    I try to avoid using certain words unless I’m close with someone and I know what their philosophy is all about. We all make mistakes though. At least you were able to apologize and you had your reason. There is no need for the host of the podcast to be upset when you meant no harm.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s