In the document model for a rich messaging experience, my internal model is a hierarchy of Scenes and Nodes on them, with attached Triggers that invoke Actions.

I'm exposing that hierarchy in a tree-like editor.

It occurred to me that using the word Trigger out there in the hierarchy may bother some people.

For now, I'm trying Senses as an alternative.

So instead of a noun-oriented Trigger: Touch, Trigger: Property Change I now have Senses Touch, Senses Property Change.

I couldn't find general advice on sensitive words, are there any word lists I can review in the same way you would review accessibility guidelines?

3 Answers 3


Yes, the word "trigger" should be avoided.

It's a totally loaded word now. Like the word snowflake, it has a new primary meaning to a major portion of users. A meaning very different and very profound tied to politics, sexism, racism, etc.

Once people adopt a word like this in this way, it makes no sense to use the word unless you're fighting its abuse.


I'm going to say no, there's not a catch-all, universal list of 'words to avoid'. A lot really depends on context. One person's trigger is another's completely serviceable, innocuous verb.

If you're gut's telling you not to use a term, then use a different one. There are plenty of synonyms for 'trigger'.

  • Completely agree with the "gut" comment. We should all pay more attention to that as its frequently a byproduct of user empathy! Nov 16, 2018 at 17:13
  • "Gut" is also inextricably linked to our bias and prejudices. That doesn't mean we should not use intuition, but we should always try to verify our assumptions. Nov 17, 2018 at 0:59

There can't be a list of words to ban in all circumstances. General context changes the meaning of a word, sensitivity depends on your audience, etc.

Ideally, you should test the functionality with different words with a number of potential user to see which word is the easiest to understand and the least problematic.

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