In my language 'nonsense' is impolite enough and used in expressions of disgust usually towards people and events. But I see a lot of people here often use this word while explaining others' that there questions and the likes have no basis.

Your assumption is wrong. ... [explanation of what is the right thing] ... So this is nonsense.

This is contrary to their entries in other meta posts or comments elsewhere where the same people are supporting SE's 'Be nice' model.

Is it actually an impolite word? I'd like to know about its usage in both British and US English.

Research: Couldn't find any credible website writing about its usage.


2 Answers 2


The word, itself, is not impolite, but it can be used in an impolite manner.

  • "I must respectfully question whether X explains Y because Z seems to contradict it" would be very polite.

  • "My opinion is that X explaining Y is nonsense." is less polite.

  • Your example: "Your assumption is wrong...So this is nonsense." is a little impolite.

  • "You're spewing nonsense." would be impolite.

  • "Nonsense! Utter rubbish! You are a total idiot!" would be very impolite.

The degree to which it focuses on the facts as opposed to the person affects politeness. The same applies to whether it is stated as absolute fact or your own opinion.

In speech, the degree to which it is impolite is greatly affected by the manner in which it is said.

  • 'In speech, the degree to which it is impolite is greatly affected by the manner in which it is said.' - Agreed.
    – Tyto alba
    Commented Apr 15, 2017 at 20:17

It's strongly contradictory. Whether or not it's rude depends on the context—whether or not it is rude to strongly contradict what has just been said.

Very welcome contradiction:

"I thought you didn't love me anymore!"

"Nonsense! Of course I love you!"

Very rude contradiction

"... And that's my most dearly held religious belief."

"Nonsense! That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard!"

  • Great observation! +1
    – fixer1234
    Commented Apr 15, 2017 at 20:28

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