So in this here essay:

Laurie Penny describes sexists as “mouthbreathing manchild misogynists”. It seems to be fairly common to describe racists and/or sexists as “mouthbreathers”.

I don’t see why, apart from unconscious ableism, anyone would use ableist slurs to denounce racists and sexists. I grew up with severe allergies and severe asthma. Do the biology. I grew up only being able to breathe through my mouth, ‘cause I don’t have gills, and I didn’t have any ability to breathe through anything else. So personally, I don’t like that word.


It’s like “sitting down on the job.” It’s not a reference to a paraplegic in a wheelchair – it’s about somebody who could stand but is too lazy, or too dumb (not because of disabilities but mental laziness), to.

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As someone who’s had repeated nasal surgery to enable me to breathe through my nose, I agree.

Surely a committed SJW wouldn’t use ableist slurs?
What’s wrong with breathing through your mouth anyway?


I don’t think people are aware that there is a possible ableist subtext to the term. It’s used to evoke poor socialization rather than physical disability, and persists because there is no obvious “schoolyard” history of its use as a disability-related slur.

Is there a good etymological history of the term to throw light on its origins?


I’ve always wondered about the history of this particular insult. How did it originate? “Slackjaw” would work better to indicate people who are unaware of their physical manifestation of confusion or non-comprehension.

I first saw it as an insult leveled against people who shop at Walmart, and have since seen in used in many examples as an indication of lower economic caste.

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I thought it was because in the rarified air of the blogosphere the most enlightened beings breath through their eyes.

Mouth breather is one of those odd terms that I don’t really “get”, but when presented as mouth breathing man child it brings vivid images of very “socially unaware” folks that I have known over the years.

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After seeing mouthbreather, I just knew neckbeard was going to be coming along soon too (and along with basement dweller! Bingo!). I look forward to seeing a reference to fedoras in the thread before too long.


As someone who has variably suffered from low to null nostril capacity from childhood (from a variety of allergic and anatomical reasons), it does strike me as a curious idiom.

Having to breathe trough the mouth can be unpleasant in a number of ways: dry lips and throat (making athsma worse), difficulty sleeping, possible teeth and mouth health problems and interference with speech in a number of embarrassing ways. Not to mention all the fun “no smell and taste” issues. All in all, it’s a fine alternative to outright choking and dying, but I really can’t recommend it if you can help it.

So yeah, it’s not like nose breathing is the sort of learned skill that signals intellectual superiority, moral fortitude or highbrow culture. It’s just what nosed animals do.


“I’m like this because of early trauma.”

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Aren’t fedoras a slightly different signal? I’d always gotten the impression that the neckbeard is only considered a threat online or in the bowels of the datacenter(on the linux/unix side), while the fedora may be seen in the wild, on the heads of PUAs and the like.

Books such as this propagandized against “mouth breathing”. It’s from 1918.


Which of these is closest to the notorious chin beard? The chin curtain, the Klingon, the Old Dutch?
Seriously, I’d like to know. I used to be mistaken for Amish at my old job because of my beard so I’m kind of interested to know if there are further connotations I was unaware of.

I’ll just leave this here to claim prior art:


The author doesn’t seem to consider that correlation does not prove causation, and the direction with an obvious causal mechanism, where health issues make nose-breathing impossible, might be more likely than the direction with no obvious causal mechanism.

For your next trick, would you care to criticize Plain facts for Old and Young?

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I think this is what the author meant by ‘mouth breather’:

You know, funnily enough, the ‘of course I didn’t mean it that way’ defence is bullshit.

Why don’t you get a clue, troll?

how about this

Iirc, that style was most fashionable among men in the 19th centurywho wished to evoke the hangman’s noose-- not so much anymore.

Is this actually a fashion that’s popular amongst the people that the other threads are calling “neckbeards?” Because last time I saw somebody with a beard like that it was a stage production of “A Christmas Carol.”

I’ve seen claims that it has to do with an antiquated notion that breathing through the mouth could lead to hearing loss, which leads to idiocy, but the simpler explanation is that it’s just that we think people walking around with their mouths open all the time just look stupid.

My own experience is that it’s more a classist slur than an ableist slur, but since I’ve had a nasty cold and can’t take decongestants, maybe it is.