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News anchor who said "jigaboo" on air proves you really shouldn't use words you don't know

It's believable that Cleveland's Fox 8 news anchor Kristi Capel didn't know that "jigaboo" was an old racial slur against African Americans. After all, it's (thankfully) not used much these days. What's less clear is why, when she wanted to describe Lady Gaga's music on live television, she decided to use a word she didn't understand.

In the video above, Capel gives her impressions of Gaga's performance at Sunday night's Oscars ceremony, explaining that she enjoyed it, especially because, under normal circumstances, "It's really hard to hear her voice with all that ‘jigaboo' music, whatever you want to call it ... ‘jigaboo'"

"Jigaboo" was used mostly during the late 19th and early 20th centuries in association with the mockery of stereotypical African-American physical features.  Today, Webster's Dictionary says it means "a black person" and makes quite clear that it is "slang," "disparaging," and "offensive."

It's no wonder Capel's African-American co-anchor looks a little perturbed during the segment.

Viewers were upset, too. Capel has been tweeting replies to people who complained about her use of the term, emphasizing her own cluelessness.

The most generous read of what happened here is that she had heard the word "jigaboo" before (maybe even in connection with music, as it was often linked to minstrel shows), was vaguely aware that it had a negative connotation, and just sort of spit it out when she couldn't think of another way to describe what rubbed her the wrong way about Lady Gaga's music.

The lesson: If you want to publicly insult someone or something, and a term that sounds sufficiently negative pops into your mind, try it out in private — and with a dictionary — first.