World & Nation

Analysis:: ‘Cuck,’ ‘snowflake,’ ‘masculinist': A guide to the language of the ‘alt-right’

Steve Bannon, Donald Trump’s chief strategist, claims he turned his Breitbart News website into the “go-to platform” of the alt-right, a fringe brand of conservatism. Here are a few terms the alt-right uses.

Stephen K. Bannon’s fringe brand of conservatism is suddenly front and center, after he was named to be chief strategist in Donald Trump’s White House. As the chairman of Breitbart News, Bannon turned the website into, in his own words, the “go-to platform of the alt-right” – a far-right ideology that promotes white nationalism, racism, anti-Semitism, homophobia and misogyny. 

This week, we examined the general worldview of the alt-right. But how can you identify someone who considers themselves part of it? Like most groups, the alt-right has its own code words and slang. Here are some terms they use, and other hallmarks to look out for: 

Beta: Members of the alt-right are obsessed with masculinity, manhood, gender roles and the concept of “alpha” and “beta” males. Alpha males are leaders, like Trump; beta males are weak and emasculated, meaning all men who disagree with them.

Crybaby, whiny: Anyone who disagrees with them or their preferred candidate, particularly protesters and people who object to the alt-right’s embrace of racism and anti-Semitism.


Cuckservative, cuck: The term “cuckservative” originated in the alt-right. It’s a portmanteau of “conservative” and “cuckold” used to describe Republicans who are perceived to be emasculated or “selling out.” Frequently shortened to “cuck,” the term has come under scrutiny for its racist implications.

Ethno-demographics: Despite the fact that racism is at the heart of its platform, the alt-right is very sensitive about being called racist. They use the term “ethno-demographics” as a more scientific-sounding way of referring to issues of race.

Libtard: The alt-right revels in the rejection of “political correctness,” so embracing an outdated term for a person with an intellectual disability (“retard”) serves the double purpose of insulting liberals and deliberately using a cruel word.

Masculinist: A word meant to embody the opposite of feminist. To the alt-right, “masculinist” principles are ones that serve and advocate for men, primarily in ways that reinforce antiquated gender roles.


Memes: The modern alt-right originated in places like 4chan and 8chan, which are hubs for meme creation. Meme creation is still a centerpiece of the movement. The alt-right is responsible for getting the Pepe the Frog meme classified as a hate symbol.

Multiculturalism (as a derogatory term): A major component of the alt-right platform is white supremacy and nationalism. “Multiculturalism” is used as a negative term for places where people of different races live together. Often used as shorthand for policies that benefit immigrants and people of color.

Neoreactionaries: Also known as NRx and the “Dark Enlightenment.” A group of people who think their supposed superior intellect makes them more capable of rational thought than everyone else, despite the fact that they all come to the same conclusions about their own superiority. They advocate for libertarianism, traditional gender roles and neofascism.

Political correctness: Anything that challenges an alt-right person’s right to say whatever they want, whenever they want, in any way they want to say it. According to the alt-right, political correctness is responsible for most of society’s ills, including feminism, Islamic terrorism and overly liberal college campuses.

Snowflake: Short for “special snowflake,” a pejorative for an entitled person. Most people protesting Trump are “snowflakes,” according to the alt-right, as are anti-Trump celebrities and most liberals.

SJW: Short for “social justice warrior,” this insult is mostly reserved for young women who try to argue on behalf of liberal or feminist ideas.

White genocide: What many alt-right members feel is the natural conclusion of liberalism and pro-immigrant policies. The alt-right views just about anything that benefits nonwhite people, particularly ones who aren’t American citizens, as a risk to whiteness and a step on the road to the eradication of the white race.