Political correctness is a term used to describe language, policies, or measures that are intended to avoid offense or disadvantage to members of particular groups in society.
In public discourse and the media, the term is generally used as a pejorative with an implication that these policies are excessive or unwarranted. Since the late 1980s, the term has been used to describe a preference for inclusive language and avoiding language or behavior that can be seen as excluding, marginalizing, or insulting groups of people considered disadvantaged or discriminated against, especially groups defined by sex or race.
Early usage of the term politically correct by leftists in the 1970s and '80s was as self-critical satire; usage was ironic, rather than a name for a serious political movement. It was considered an in-joke among leftists used to satirise those who were too rigid in their adherence to political orthodoxy.
The modern pejorative usage of the term emerged from conservative criticism of the New Left in the late 20th century. This usage was popularized by a number of articles in The New York Times and other media throughout the 1990s, and was widely used in the debate surrounding Allan Bloom's 1987 book The Closing of the American Mind. The term gained further currency in response to Roger Kimball's Tenured Radicals (1990), and conservative author Dinesh D'Souza's 1991 book Illiberal Education.
Commentators on the political left in the United States contend that conservatives use the concept of political correctness to downplay and divert attention from substantively discriminatory behavior against disadvantaged groups. They also argue that the political right enforces its own forms of political correctness to suppress criticism of its favored constituencies and ideologies. In the United States, the term has played a major role in the "culture war" between liberals and conservatives.