To put an end (I hope) to this conversation/thread, I must observe "What a difference in perceived meaning one single phoneme makes, especially in the absence of an explicit context." WOW!! Thanks all, for your comments. This has been very instructive and enlightening, right here, at this very unique sociolinguistic Wordie website --Hernesheir
Agreed (with everything) — in the contexts that were offered here, I can now see how the term could even be used kind-heartedly. It's just hard to tell in print vs. face-to-face communication. Hernesheir, please don't stop posting or commenting. I think everyone's enjoying your contributions! :)
I agree, rolig. Context is extremely important. Hernesheir, the apology is very much appreciated, and although we don't know you well (at least I don't), it doesn't seem like the type of word you'd bandy about on Wordie--which I suppose is what took me aback. All is well here, so not to worry.
With verbal jests of this sort, context is everything. I can easily imagine some dear friends of mine, who are lesbians, good-naturedly calling another lesbian friend a "troglodyke" because she chooses not to have an active social life. Personally, I don't think there is anything inherantly offensive in the word or even in the jocular definition Hernesheir has provided. But like many things online, the context is so nebulous that interpretation can become quite difficult. Here, as in countless other things, the virtual world falls far short of the real one. We wouldn't have these problems, probably, if we were all just yakking in some real-life café.
The infelicitous word came to mind in the context of my reviewing speleology terms. My definition and flip attempt at humor was neither intended to imply "evolved from caves" nor to suggest "applies to all".
I tend to remain "sconced in my cave" too much and know too well that I've missed out on opportunities for fun and laughter and diverse interactions and relationships with others as a result. That bit of self-knowledge probably figured in my definition.
I think the definition as written suggests that all lesbians come from caves—if the idea is that some have emerged and some still live in them. That's offensive to any group, really--e.g. Jews, editors, underwater welders ... walruses... but, to be fair, probably not offensive to bats or cave fish. English-speakers (at least in the U.S.) generally use the phrase or concept "living in a cave" only pejoratively.
It's not always easy to make lighthearted jokes on this site, especially about sensitive topics. Just as in emails, we can't see body language or tone of voice. I'm sure we all know hernesheir was being light-hearted here, but it just didn't look like it, in plain black and white.
Hernesheir, there's no need (or even a way) to remove it. I was only reacting to what seemed like a kind of flip and insulting definition. I'm certain that you did not mean it that way. Don't freak out.
Perhaps where you got that definition from would be revealing--if you found it on Urban Dictionary, for example, we'd all probably take it with a grain of salt (or antibiotics). It's just the suggestion that all lesbians live in caves that's ... well, not that appealing to those of us who are, or know and love, lesbians.
This happens on Wordie all the time. Really! Just jump back in and keep playing. We've all enjoyed your contributions so far and hope you will continue to play in the sandbox with us. (Wordbox?)