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69 Words General Motors Didn't Want Its Employees To Use When Describing GM Cars

"Rolling sarcophagus." "Widow-maker."

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If you're an employee at General Motors, you shouldn't to refer to GM vehicles as rolling sarcophagi or the Hindenburg.

That's according to new documents released as part of GM's $35 million settlement over its faulty ignition switches, which instruct engineers how to describe problems in vehicles without using certain inflammatory language.

The confidential PowerPoint presentation containing the words is from 2008, and warns employees not to describe vehicles in ways that invoke emotion or that are speculative, opinionated, or vague. It also instructs them to think how it would look if everything they say or email wound up as a front-page headline.

Greg Martin, a spokesman for GM, told Reuters that company culture is different now than it was back in 2008.

"Today's GM encourages employees to discuss safety issues, which is reinforced through GM's recently announced Speak Up for Safety Program," Martin said.

Here's the full list:

1. Always

2. Annihilate

3. Apocalyptic

4. Asphyxiating

5. Bad

6. Band-Aid

7. Big time

8. Brakes like an "X" Car

9. Cataclysmic

10. Catastrophic

11. Challenger

12. Chaotic

13. Cobain

14. Condemns

15. Corvair-like

16. Crippling

17. Critical

18. Dangerous

19. Deathtrap

20. Debilitating

21. Decapitating

22. Defect

23. Defective

24. Detonate

25. Disemboweling

26. Enfeebling

27. Evil

28. Eviscerated

29. Explode

30. Failed


A sarcophagus is a stone coffin, sometimes covered with ornate designs. GM asked that its employees not refer to their vehicles as a "rolling sarcophagus."

31. Failure

32. Flawed

33. Genocide

34. Ghastly

35. Grenadelike

36. Grisly

37. Gruesome

38. Hindenburg

39. Hobbling

40. Horrific

41. Impaling

42. Inferno

43. Kevorkianesque

44. Lacerating

45. Life-threatening

46. Maiming

47. Malicious

48. Mangling

49. Maniacal

50. Mutilating

The Titanic was a large ship that crashed into an iceberg resulting in the deaths of thousands onboard. GM employees were told they should not compare their vehicles to the Titanic.

51. Never

52. Potentially-disfiguring

53. Powder keg

54. Problem

55. Rolling Sarcophagus (tomb or coffin)

56. Safety

57. Safety related

58. Serious

59. Spontaneous combustion

60. Startling

61. Suffocating

62. Suicidal

63. Terrifying

64. Titanic

65. Tomblike

66. Unstable

67. Widow-maker

68. Words or phrases with biblical connotation

69. You're toast

Jacob Fischler is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, D.C.

Contact Jacob Fischler at

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