What People With Down’s Syndrome Used to Be Called


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Before “Down’s Syndrome” was called such, people with Down’s syndrome were called “Mongolian idiots” and the syndrome itself was called “mongolism”.  This comes from the fact that people thought that Down’s syndrome individuals resembled Mongolians.  So next time you feel like offending as many people as possible, be sure and use the term “Mongolian idiot” when referring to people with Down’s syndrome.

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  • My son has Down’s Syndrome. I’ve always gone with the theory: If someone is willing to make fun or disparaging comments about anyone with a disability they have a far bigger handicap than my son…and I pity them.

  • “…So next time you feel like offending as many people as possible, be sure and use the term “Mongolian idiot” when referring to people with Down’s syndrome.”

    That’s gotta be the worst thing you’ve put on this page!
    I have a friend who has a daughter with Downs, I’m offended for them.
    She’s one of the sweetest kids I’ve ever meet. Her parents try very hard to treat (and have her treated) like any other child.

    Please, please retract that statement.

    ~ Chuck

    • Daven Hiskey

      @Chuck: I had an Uncle with Downs, who incidentally ended up dying of prostate cancer when he was in his 50s. Nobody is saying to actually go around saying that. Just interesting the terminology that people used to use, which today is wildly offensive, hence “next time you feel like offending as many people as possible”.

    • I’m pretty sure the author was using sarcasm.

  • It’s actually Down Syndrome … there is no possessive (‘s), and we should all be grateful that most people today are secure enough to embrace others who may be different than they are.

    • Daven Hiskey

      @Leslie: It depends on where you are from as to whether it includes the possessive “‘s” on the end or not. Both are generally accepted, though in the U.S. “Down Syndrome” is generally preferred whereas in the U.K. “Down’s Syndrome” is the preferred convention.

  • I don’t think the writer of this post meant to offend anyone.
    It’s just one of those things that should be left unsaid. I
    think they were just saying it’s very offensive. I highly doubt
    that it was a dig on people who have a disability of any sort.
    As someone with another in you’re family don’t let people who
    judge see you lose your cool over their stupidity. They are
    the ones who are uneducated in those sorts of things. I have
    a wonderful family member with a disability but the best thing
    for anyone to do is not identify that person as their disability
    they are a person first. Also I work for an amazing company that
    provides care and helps them to do fun things and work =] I love it.

  • The word is mongoloid not mongolian. Nowadays the correct term is physically and mentally challenged. I have worked with the physically and mentally challenged citizens for many many years now. Those of you who would make fun of them need to go one on one with them some day. You would find them sweet, caring and loving. They can and do learn. They eat, breath and sleep just like “regular people do”. THEY ARE PEOPLE TOO!

  • I live workin with the retards, those goofy bastards make my day.

  • yea….people needs to grow up seriously.

  • I agree with Laya, I remember as a little girl Down syndrome children were called Mongals it just was a very politicly incorrect time, also the ‘N’ word was used very freely for the colour of anything brown ! Thank goodness times have changed and the world has grown up.

  • “I’m offended for them.”

    That REALLY annoys me when people are offended “for other people”. Like the white guy who decides something is racist when no black person does.

    Back on topic… I taught a boy with Down’s and he was awesome. He was not academically brilliant, but he had a wicked sense of humour 🙂

  • I have a sister with down syndrome and she is the most amazing HUMAN BEING that has ever been in my life! People with Down Syndrome are the ones who don’t judge or ever discriminate. They are accepting of every race, color, or physical condition. Those who are ignorant are the ones calling them Mongolians or what-not. Maybe if we were all accepting of eachother this world wouldn’t be as corrupt and bad like it is. Down syndrome people are not what people like to call “normal” but should because just like everyone else, since truly there is no exact definition of a “normal human being” in the dictionary. Down syndrome people have two eyes, two legs, two ears, a nose, two arms, and a gender just like the rest of us “normal” humans. Think before you say or post anything like this because life is full of surprises and you never what is going to happen tomorrow. I sure can say that anyone with an immediate family member with down syndrome is blessed to the greatest extent because they will always make your day in their own innocent ways!

  • I don’t think we should be too high and mighty about this. Sure back in the day people were insensitive of disabilities. However today most Down Syndrome babies get aborted.

  • Where you getting this mongolian idiot thing from?

    Mongoloid* is the correct term

    &Yea, hella people used to say that haha

    • What we today call a syndrome or a disease had a time in history when it was not understood so it was called what it looked like. My daughter was born without a thyroid gland, this alone causes mental retardation. But in history she would have been called a cretin. Cretinism was what they called hypothyroidism. In those days Cretin was a medical term, today it would be called an insult or slur.

  • Stop sticking up for your faulty DNA by saying anyone who makes fun of people with extra parts has a ‘bigger disability’. You’re not sacred, you spit in the face of natural selection. Human or not, they are defective. Anyone who is all ‘OMFG I AM ASHAMED OF YOU FOR MAKING FUN OF BLAH BLAH BLAH- -“, hey your stumbleupon gave you this for a reason. Anyone responding to this comment o’ mine beginning with “Wow…” needs to STFU.

    • Yeah right? I am sick to death with holding up these mongos as though they are sacred and “special”.

  • I love how people are being offended by this post. You didn’t say that intending to offend people, you said that to tell others how to offend people. 😀

  • Well as it was posted under “Today I found out” and “FACT”. I am glad certain people commenting have at least corrected this. It was Mongoloid and not Mongolian Idiot. The person posting this has shown at the very least his ignorance and yes probably his prejudice. Not being all high and mighty here but those are the facts. IMHO

    • Daven Hiskey

      @Hoeby: Both were used actually, with “Mongolian Idiot” being the official medical diagnosis at one point. See comment to audrey for details.

      • From what I remember, “Mongoloids’ Disease” was (and technically still is) considered a formal diagnosis for “Down Syndrome” and was used until the end of the twentieth century, while “Mongolian Idiot” was the ancient term, dating back centuries. My grandfather told me he actually remembers when Down Syndrome victims were referred to as “Mongoloids” and that they had “Mongoloids’ Disease”.

        However, “Mongolian Idiot” phased out long before my grandfather’s parents were born.

      • Brian Ellsworth

        I remember our health teacher taught us about Mongoloidism. They changed it because the people of Mongolia were insulted. I used the term during the eighties and someone corrected me and said get educated, Well, that is what the educators taught us.

  • Er, they were called mongoloids dude. Not ‘mongolian idiots’. And it was in my lifetime…and I’m only 30. Sheesh.

    • Daven Hiskey

      @audrey: It was both actually. Mongolian idiot was the official medical name for the syndrome at one point (idiot originally being a medical term) and mongolism was another accepted term: “The doubly offensive term “Mongolian idiot,” which in the 19th and early 20th centuries was an actual, literal diagnosis, derives from people’s belief that individuals with Down syndrome – with their wide set eyes and round faces – resembled Mongolians. In fact, before the British physician J.H.L. Down (1828 – 1896) lent his name to the chromosomal syndrome, Down syndrome was known merely as “mongolism.”” -From the book: What’s the Difference by mental_floss

  • “WOW” I didnt find the original post offensive, but I do find the post by ‘canis’ HIGHLY offensive. Why do people trawl these comments looking for opportunities to p* people off?
    Or are you actually nuts, and hence a Darwinian anomaly yourself?

  • Yo, bitches! Who Gives A F… about what anyone prints or says. If this is all that makes you “upset” then you need to get yourself into the real world of suffering, live in Lybia or one of the Stans and then see if any of this bull shit means anything, when just staying alive is a daily task. Man you people have life so easy. Its like the dicks with their “lifestyle choices”, “oh I’m a veggie” etc, get real, do you know how lucky you are to have the life that allows you to wallow in this self pleasing lifestyle choice bullshit while most of the world struggle and starve and die in pain….Bitches!.

  • never heard mongolian idiots but i heard them being caled mongaloids which peeves me to no end

  • Retar… Er I mean down syndromed people are not Human they have diffrent DNA and there are people called Dwarfs they arn’t Human some part in their DNA stops them growing at a young age ant then there are midgets…

  • @canis: Wow…

    I shall STFU now.

  • doctor ziudberg

    Ya’ll laughed at ethnic jokes one timeor another. anyone or anything dealt a bad hand of cards make for great comedy. Ding fries are done.

  • Still called Mongoloids today! No news here.

  • “Mongoloid idiocy” was so named because the trisomy at chromosome 21 that causes down has certain characteristics that are phenotypically observable. Those two are the hand crease in the palm, and what are known as Mongoloid (or Mongolian) eye folds. That’s where the top eyelid sort of covers the outside corner of the eye, folded over. That eye fold is also common in Mongolian ethnic groups.

  • All The Worlds A Stage


    Cry a fucking river already. You need a tissue? Your pathetic lil feelings got hurt? poor babies 🙁

    Poor lil mongo. All getting made fun of. He should just be happy he didn’t end up in a potato sack loaded with rocks at the bottom of a river.

    The providing of care and support for those that nature decided to “phase out” via natural selection should be a crime. You are doing nothing but damaging the genetic futures of our species.

    If they are “special needs” they were not intended to survive.

    • Okay, I’ve always found Down Syndrome sufferers to be hideous in appearance, but sweet mercy almighty, this might have to be one of the worst comments I have ever

      The fact that people like you exist scares me. You sound like what Stalin, Hitler, and other monsters sounded like in terms of dealing with retards. Why kill them ? If you want to stop them breeding, there’s this thing called medical castration, which is painless and does not involve KILLING INNOCENTS IN COLD BLOOD!

      Good gosh, you make me sick.

  • LOL, I always thought the term was mongoloid. like corky on that show back in the day. Either way, shit happens suck it up and stop being pussies about every little thing that offends you. i’m sure the mongoloids dont fucking care so why should you.

  • This is like the equivalent of calling a little person a midget..just how mad are people gonna get?

    Also i wonder if the term refers to the practice of head-binding(used by the mongols) because it would certainly make sense.

  • well.. obviously the image worked as intended, judging by the amount of people that got offended here.

  • you know what?, to everyone who is insulting people with down syndrome just go grow a pair. if you can. & to prevent pissing me off any further just get the HELL OFF THIS WEB SITE! OR JUMP OFF A CLIFF!. MY LITTLE SIS HAS DS & SHE IS THE SWEETEST PERSON I HAVE EVER SEEN! & just a foot note you dumb ass they are human .probably more human than you are.

  • Another fact is that down’s syndrome is not common in mongoloids( especially within mongolians) comparing to europe and america. Its just Mr. Down may had racial issues. Term mongoloid came out because of the Mongolians had control over the euro-asian continent for 5-6 centuries making a modern world that we know now( according to jack weatherford: genghis khan making the modern world.) so the down’s syndrome could have chinism or chinese idiot or chinos etc. instead its reffered to the greatest nation that humanity had ever seen. At the end all this things are in the past u can do nothing about that. Instead let our kids live a normal life as possible as not insulting their human being…

  • down`s syndrome is the most common in EU, USA and Australia. I never have seen down`s syndrome in Mongolia. Mongolians haven`t got any curious illness. Look at this list: http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/mor_dow_syn-mortality-down-syndrome

    So, EU is a true medical term of DOWN SYNDROME!

  • I think those who don’t know people with Down syndrome used to be called “mongoloids” only because of the similar appearance (eye shape or whatever) would get an idea that mongoloid people were actually all alike them. That’d be very wrong. So we should avoid using this term.

  • I was born in the mid 1940s,and in England in the following years people with what we now call Down Syndrome were called Mongolian Idiots. Clearly that was a highly offensive term but in those days that was the norm.

  • First off Mongoloid IS an horrible, offensive out dated term thankgod. In Australia we say Down Syndrome, not Downs etc. A person born with DS is not a DS person, they are a person who has DS. A person with any dissability is not a defected model that doesnt deserve to be alive. Every baby deserves life dissability or not. Shame on you a few posts up saying what u said. Lastly if you call someone with DS or any other dissability the R word, Spazzo etc it just shows that you are ignorant and a pretty sad excuse for a human. :-/

  • I went to school in the fifties… My educators taught us the words that were used by medical text to describe different degrees of abilities a person has when referring to the learning ….Each different IQ each had its own …They became derogatory over time .Retarded , mildly retarded ,severely retarded were used until they became became . offensive… Special will also become offensive…Even genus will be offensive some day.. It was the people of Mongolia that were offended and why the term down syndrome was used…I’m stupid and no getting around it . I am not offended by it.

  • I’ m mongolian and I’m really sad when I found out “there was a medical term called mongolian idiots”.

    On a wikipedia, it says that term was no longer to use, because of World Health Organization dropped the term after request by Mongolian delegate in 1965.

    • Brian Ellsworth

      My educators in teaching the medical term in 1962. The class was never updated. I never heard of down syndrome until late life. Many other teachings are no longer acceptable.

      • Yes, My mom is a retired public health nurse. I remember that she would use the term Mongoloid. I guess that was that 1960s education for you.

  • I find it disgusting, that this person learned something new, and took the information she acquired to say to people, I learned a nasty slang term for Downs Syndrome, so if you want to truly offend someone call them by this filthy slang term. I think, at least I hope, your the only one looking to crap on people, by hunting down information to do so. God help us all. My brother had downs, and his is a saint. Try searching for words that don’t hurt, there’s enough ugly in this world.

  • The only Mongolian idiot here is the author.

  • yes Mongolian idiot yes

  • I agree. Down/s Syndrome is now as stigmatized as Mong.Spaz. Doylem.Durnan. Dribbler. Fish face. Baggyhead.. it now gets Downsy etc. Surely some other term could be used to celebrate the inner beauty of these souls less based on appearance but more on their beauty inside.

  • People can keep changing the names for those with a disease but it doesn’t change facts. Now they have to be called physically and mentally challenged? Says who? Many conditions and diseases cause people to be physically and mentally challenged, so get real. Specific diseases have a name, not a generality. If your brain is defective you can’t just say you are physically and mentally challenged. You may have Alzheimer’s or Autism or Dyslexia. They are all a mental challenge but not equal.

    The real people OFFENDED are those from Mongolia not the other way around! All people from Mongolia do NOT have Downs Syndrome. The first case of a Mongoloid had the facial appearance of a person from Mongolia so a doctor (Dr. John Down) named them such.