It could be construed as a black day for the English language — but not if you work in the public sector in Europe.

Dozens of quasi non-governmental organization and taxpayer-funded organizations have ordered a purge of common words and phrases so as not to cause offense.

Among the everyday sayings that have been quietly dropped in a bid to stamp out racism and sexism are "whiter than white," "gentleman’s agreement," "black mark" and "right-hand man."

The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission has advised staff to replace the phrase "black day" with "miserable day," according to documents released under freedom of information rules.

It points out that certain words carry with them a "hierarchical valuation of skin color." The commission even urges employees to be mindful of the term "ethnic minority" because it can imply "something smaller and less important."

The National Gallery in London believes that the phrase "gentleman’s agreement" is potentially offensive to women and suggests that staff should replace it with "unwritten agreement" or "an agreement based on trust" instead. The term "right-hand man" is also considered taboo by the gallery, with "second in command" being deemed more suitable.

Click here to read more on this story from the Times of London.