I won't comment on "the-itis" because I'd never heard of it, but it does seem like in some cases people are taking a phrase or word that no one has known anything offensive about for a hundred years, and basically researching it back into offensiveness.

As Joy Silver said above, "rule of thumb" (allegedly) used to mean the maximum width of the stick a man could beat his wife with. I'm not sure what the historical evidence is for that, but either way I don't care. I'm still going to use "rule of thumb" the way people have used it for decades or longer. I am not going to scrutinize its origins and work myself up to being offended by it.

Linguist, philosopher, lover of history, wordhound, 21 year New Yorker, searching for meaning in the universe

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