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I have heard the slang phrase dick move in contexts like this:

"Please don't do that prank to him. That'd be a dick move from you."

"Look at those drawings of Bob! Do you know who made them? That's a dick move!"

I understand what the phrase means, but what other colloquial expressions could I use to replace the slang dick move? I want to avoid swear words and convey the same sentiment in a way that is would be regarded as more polite and less offensive.

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    A "dick" is an idiot or a jerk. Therefore, jerk, idiot and synonyms which you can look up in a dictionary/thesaurus will do. – user6951 Jan 28 '15 at 23:59
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    "Dick move" is a common expression among young people in the United States, and I can't think of a synonym. Simply substituting rude, idiot, jerk or bad does not capture it. You may not be able to find a good synonym, and instead have to resort to using an adjective. ( That was an obnoxious thing to do. is the closest I can come. ) – Adam Jan 29 '15 at 0:29
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    I've reopened this question, because I think it's a legitimate learner's question. In the future, though, when inquiring about vulgar phrases, you can avoid downvotes and closevotes by (a) not including the vulgarity in your question title, (b) citing sources where you may have seen or heard the phrase, and (c) explaining why you are looking for a milder synonym. (In this case, I think you did (c), but not (a) and (b), hence my edit.) – J.R. Jan 29 '15 at 9:34
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    @J.R. I don't think you should have reopened it. And you did that reopening unilaterally. You also deleted my comment. If you really think this trollish question is meaningful, then a more appropriate site would've been EL&U, as a Single-Word-Request. The OP obviously has no difficulty in writing fluent English--That is why this is a trollish question. – F.E. Jan 29 '15 at 20:47
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    Try "That's LAME! ... Especially if it was both stupid and inappropriate. (Of course that's somewhat dated slang, having been more popular a couple of decades ago than now.) – Brian Hitchcock Jan 31 '15 at 16:22
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You could say something along the lines of "that's a rude move".

Rude could stand in for Dick

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  • Thank you for answering my question. Woud it sound natural if I said "That's rude!" after seeing offensive drawings made to mock someone? Does it express that I feel sorry for the boy on the drawing? – user14197 Jan 28 '15 at 23:59
  • Yes it does! Hope this helps – Trevor Clarke Jan 29 '15 at 0:00
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    Or jerk. A jerk-move would be understood – Affable Geek Jan 29 '15 at 21:44
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    I didn't down-vote, (votes = -1 at time of this comment) but "That's a rude move", sounds unnatural and (IMO) improperly conflates rude with dick move. Also, it's not accurate to equate rude with dick: He is a dick. but not *He is a rude. Suggested Edits: You could change it to simply, "That's rude!" (That's what OP clarified in the comments and likely led to OP selecting this answer.) So also, cull the additional context from user14197's comment directly into the answer. – CoolHandLouis Mar 9 '15 at 0:44
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Saying something is not cool captures the same sentiment. It’s fairly flexible:

Don’t prank him. That would not be cool.

Don’t prank him. That’s not cool.

You could also tell someone not to be that guy.[examples]

Don’t prank him. You don’t want to be that guy.

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A very polite altemative would be "faux pas" (pronounced foe-paw). This is a French phrase adopted into English; it literally means "false step", but is used specifically to denote an act that is socially unacceptable, something that is just "not done in polite company".

Your rude friend might not get it, and think you're being hoity-toity or high-falutin, or he might get it, but still think you're prissy or a goody two-shoes. Go ahead and say it anyway—he'll get over it.

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Dick moves aren't just mean or inconsiderate, it's explicitly identifying something a person should be ashamed of. So focus on the shaming and less on the deed.

Don't poop in his shoes, that's such a dick move.

You're better than that.

Who does that?

Don't be a Schmuck

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  • Your answer is the only one so far that captures a critical element of "dick move". The phrase combines an observation about the inappropriate nature of the action with a derogatory reference to a person who would do such a thing. The "should be ashamed of" captures that. One difference, though, is that "that's a dick move" doesn't directly insult the actor, it derides anyone in general who would do the action. So, for example, "Only a schmuck would do that" would be closer than "Don't be a schmuck." – fixer1234 Mar 18 '17 at 19:01
  • The word "schmuck" means the same thing as "dick" so is equally obscene to anyone who knows its meaning. – Ellen Spertus Oct 8 '18 at 18:42
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"Egregious act" is a pretty good synonym IMO. It is the one I chose after coming to this page for alternatives.

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I suppose this comes down to how you define the phrase in question. The Urban Dictionary lists two dozen meanings of the phrase; the one I'm using for this answer is #7 there:

A socially unacceptable deed or act.

This one might be a little too sophisticated, depending on your audience, but there's the adjective inappropriate:

Please don't do that prank to him. That would be inappropriate.

Macmillan says the word is used for behavior that is "morally wrong or against acceptable social or professional standards," which seems like a good description of – ahem – a "bad move."

If you want something more slangy, there's the British term not cricket. A UK Slang Dictionary defines the informal phrase as:

Unacceptable or unfair behaviour : I mean, it's just not cricket is it? Knowing that a meal contained beef fat and not telling a vegetarian until after they'd eaten it.

CDO labels not cricket as old-fashioned or humorous, but their example sentence fits very well with the phrase you are asking about:

It's simply not cricket to flirt with another man's wife.

The phrase not cricket isn't widely used in the U.S., but I've known the meaning of the phase for some time now, thanks to a song by the band Squeeze. We'd need a UK native to comment on its currency on the other side of the Atlantic, but at least it would be much more polite than the alternative you are asking about.

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  • Do you have any vetted sources to back up your claim that that's what "dick move" means? As far as I understand it from my students, none of your definitions come anywhere close old bean :( – Araucaria - Not here any more. Jan 31 '15 at 0:49
  • @Araucaria - Edited by request. :^) I realize there are other possible interpretations, like this one, but I went with what I thought aligned best with the O.P.'s two examples. – J.R. Jan 31 '15 at 12:39
  • Your suggestions just don't come close to capturing the essence of "dick move". To describe it with another vulgarity, "dick move" describes what an asshole would do. The term combines the inappropriateness of the action with a derogatory reference to the person doing it. Clinical terms or polite euphemisms like these lack the second aspect. – fixer1234 Mar 18 '17 at 18:47
  • @fixer - I agree my suggestions lack the shock value of the original expression. Your comment makes me wonder, though, if you noticed that the OP “wants to avoid swear words and convey the same sentiment in a way that is more polite and less offensive." – J.R. Mar 18 '17 at 20:14
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    At least we're spending time discussion something of great social and political importance. – fixer1234 Mar 18 '17 at 20:34

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