Judging acceptability, from photo dumps to dump trucks.

Acceptable and Unacceptable Dumps

Dumps are bigger than ever right now. Instagram photo dumps, Facebook document dumps, TikTok therapist trauma dumps. My god, we’re positively drowning in dumps. And while in certain cases referring to something with the word “dump” is acceptable behavior, in many cases it is not. So for the benefit of all, let’s comb through each of the various dumps and determine if the dump in question is acceptable, or if we collectively need to stop saying it forever starting immediately.


In our discussion of dumps, my coworker Brandy Jensen noted that this use of dump is sort of the “ur-unacceptable dump,” the dump to which all other unacceptable dumps can be traced. I believe she is right. I’ve thought a lot about whether the status of ur-unacceptable dump would make “take a dump,” somewhat counterintuitively, an acceptable use case; an appropriately unacceptable use of “dump” against which we could determine inappropriate, unacceptable uses. After much deliberation I have decided that, no, we don’t need to be thinking that much about this.


A profoundly foul turn of phrase. Hideous. I’d hate to think we live in a world where there is not a less grotesque way to introduce a series of photos from “summer” that you “just found” than by saying: “photo dump.” Please consider what you are putting out into the world. “July dump.” Choose your captions with care. “Birthday dump.” I can’t imagine a less enticing way to get people to look at ten slides of people at dinner, memes, and unintentionally humorous signs.


A dump cake is named as such because you “dump” all of the ingredients into a pan. A ridiculous choice, not only because it is a food item called “dump,” but also because “dumping” things from one vessel into another vessel is an integral part of creating most foods. According to this website, the first reference to a “dump cake” came from a 1980 Duncan Hines holiday baking brochure. Disgusting. They could have at least said “Dunc Cake” (short for Duncan Hines). “Here, I made you this dump cake.” “Eat this — it’s called a fucking ‘dump cake.’” Vile.


Adorable trucks, accurately named, perfectly acceptable.


“She dumped me,” “I got dumped,” “Are you the dumper or the dumpee?,” “Dump him,” “Why am I always dumping people?” While getting dumped can be unfortunate, and dumping someone can be uncomfortable, and of course I don’t mean to bring up bad memories and I am so sorry for doing so, the use of “dump” to describe the situation is perfectly fine. This is due to the prominence of its use and how it is frequently attached to a suffix. None of it sounds unacceptable to my ear, and I do ask that you stop crying so we can move on with our list of dumps.


Acceptable. Even kind of cute, really, for what it is.


This is what a commercial for The Dump says: “Gee, it doesn’t look like a dump. It's not a dump, it's The Dump: America's luxe furniture outlet.” Okay, why did you call it “The Dump” then? You could have called this store anything and you chose to call it something you have to spend 100 percent of your commercial negating. Beyond that, “the dump,” when divorced from its primary meaning, loses a fair amount of its acceptability. Now the sort of dump to which you are referring is a bit … hazier. Now it’s weird. “I’m going to the store ‘The Dump.’” Yuck. I don’t think that makes this a completely unacceptable use, but it does make it:


We don’t need to be seeing “dump” in headlines unless we are specifically trying to dissuade readers with the disgustingness of the word “dump” and the dreariness of presenting a bunch of information as an inherently overwhelming mass. Don’t tell me about a “dump.” That’s for you to sort through (the journalist) not me (in this scenario I’m the reader) (though to be honest there likely won’t be a scenario like this in my career where I am going to have to be the journalist). Like … I don’t want to hear about a “dump” from “Mark Zuckerberg.” Horrible. Don’t tell me about that.


This is some sort of Gen Z bullshit.


Yes, how do we make this perfect food item completely unappealing? Hmm, well, it has an adorable name; maybe we can ruin something about that? Let’s see … “dump” is a disgusting word, and it’s right there in “dumpling,” so — ”dumps,” then? We’ll call them “dumps,” to be cute, even though “dumpling” is already pretty much the cutest word available, and it perfectly describes the cute and delicious food item to which it is attached? “Dumps”? Perfect.


Weathermen (weatherpeople) are always saying this. “This storm system is going to dump a ton of rain on the northeast.” “This storm system is going to dump a ton of snow on Connecticut.” The acceptability of this use depends on the situation. Sometimes you can tell the weatherperson is enjoying saying “dump” too much, really digging into it, in which case it becomes unacceptable. Otherwise it is acceptable. Have some dignity. If a storm system is dumping weather on someone, make note of it and move on.


You’d think the proximity of dump and ass might ruin it, but no. Acceptable.