Discussing -splain: At the intersection of prescriptivism, language policing and moral gradience

Ursula Lutzky, Robert Lawson

Publication: Scientific journalJournal articlepeer-review


This discussion note offers a response to Judith Bridges’ focus article “Explaining ‘‑splain’ in digital discourse”. We review some of the article’s core findings on the bound morpheme ‑splain, utilised in words such as whitesplain, covidsplain, and thinsplain, and expand on them by addressing three key concerns: we situate the construction and use of ‑splain formations in a more expansive version of prescriptivism, what we refer to as ‘prescriptivism 2.0’; discuss them within the context of language policing and political correctness; and ask whether forms ending in ‑splain are subject to moral gradience, highlighting directions and opportunities for future research.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)54-60
JournalLanguage Under Discussion
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • -splain
  • prescriptivism
  • language policing
  • moral gradience

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