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The Worst Swearword in the World
October 23, 2007 12:02 AM   Subscribe

Jon Ronson decides "I'm going to tell my son the worst swearword in the world". His follow up article is also interesting. Incidentally, his "Bad Science" colleague from The Guardian did uncover a list of the worst swearwords from the BBC no less (and previously)
posted by rongorongo (108 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
The "c" word is so yesterday's news.

I prefer portmanteaus such as twunt or cocknipple.
posted by lalochezia at 12:15 AM on October 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


Jon Ronson is a cunt.
posted by mr. strange at 12:17 AM on October 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


Belgium.

I came in here just to say that...
Worse swear than Limone anyway...

posted by bruzie at 12:22 AM on October 23, 2007 [5 favorites]


Cunt is not the worst swearword in the world. Its the *best* swearword in the world.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:23 AM on October 23, 2007 [19 favorites]


Countdown to Vagina Monologue references..
posted by Orrorin at 12:25 AM on October 23, 2007


Motherfisting babyraper needs a new dictionary.
posted by BrotherCaine at 12:29 AM on October 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


I just about squeezed a Cheney out of my Dubya when I read that list.
posted by maxwelton at 12:31 AM on October 23, 2007 [6 favorites]


The Departed F*cking Short Version (some spoilers)

Also, a Wikipedia favorite:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_films_that_most_frequently_use_the_word_%22fuck%22
posted by ALongDecember at 12:33 AM on October 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


Hahah, cute.
posted by Phire at 12:43 AM on October 23, 2007


I'm really impressed at his 8-year-old son's vocabulary. I didn't dare to say the word "damn" until I was 14 because I was convinced the Earth would literally open up beneath me, while demons would fly out and drag me into the depths of Bad Little Boy's Hell.

Thats what your childhood is like when your parents are hyper-religious cunts.
posted by Avenger at 12:46 AM on October 23, 2007 [10 favorites]


I remember the first time i said "hell" I was surprised to get in trouble because I thought "hell" meant something like "globe."
posted by MNDZ at 12:55 AM on October 23, 2007


Before I read futher, is there a Christmas Story/em> reference? 'Tis (nearly) the season, after all.
posted by christopherious at 12:58 AM on October 23, 2007


Apologies for the formatting.
posted by christopherious at 12:59 AM on October 23, 2007


lalochezia: "I prefer portmanteaus such as twunt or cocknipple."

A friend often uses the insult "ass cocker," which, I believe, is a fancy way of saying "buttfucker." Why this came to mind after reading your post is another topic entirely.
posted by Wasabunchi at 1:14 AM on October 23, 2007


Btw, fucking Casino is a muthafucking good fucking movie.
posted by Avenger at 1:16 AM on October 23, 2007


Do you mean this Christmas Story christopherious? - same author, same kid at 4, description of a visit to Lapland to see Santa.
posted by rongorongo at 1:28 AM on October 23, 2007


No cocksucker?
posted by tula at 1:34 AM on October 23, 2007


I really do quit. This is my last one. I'm going to go back to writing about other people's craziness.

That was the right thing to do though ... writing publicly (or blogging) about your own family is a great way to "Lose Friends and Influence People" ...
posted by woodblock100 at 1:36 AM on October 23, 2007


I could barely even think of the 'c' word without getting douche chills until I watched this Scots movie with my husband where the word was almost absurdly overused (I don't remember much about it other than there were 2 or 3 brothers and a wedding and a mortal wound- we just refer to it as "Cunty McCunt Cuntcunt: The Movie") Afterward I found myself completely inured to 'cunt' as a taboo word, which does me no good at all since I'm spending so much time around the parents of my 5 year old's friends. If only I knew some cuntier people.
posted by maryh at 1:40 AM on October 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


Wow, "Jew" is on there, with 20% or respondents considering it a "very severe" swearword.

Um, anyone else thinking of Southpark here?

Cartman: Kyle, all those times I called you a stupid Jew, I didn't mean it. You're not a Jew.

Kyle: Yes I am, Cartman! I am a Jew!

Cartman: No, no, don't be so hard on yourself.

posted by -harlequin- at 1:40 AM on October 23, 2007 [9 favorites]


Must be a British thing. C*** doesn't get as intense a reaction as f*** does where I live.
posted by hjo3 at 1:45 AM on October 23, 2007


Heh, working on a (kids) video game, a project lead had been given vague instructions to implement a block-list of swearwords that the game had to censor from players in multiplayer chat. He was talking to the programmer that had to implement it. Programmer naturally wants to know if the block feature needs to check for variants on those words. Lead didn't know, but would find out. Programmer thinks about it some more, then says "Ok, but what about when the game is running in French... should it then be blocking English swearwords?"

"What... But... Why would any... Why would I know that?! Why would I know that?!?... ARGH!!!" as his brain xploded, while another programmer a few feet down was all "Ooh - I want to see the list!"

(Also, I don't think we had a French list at the time). Ok, you really had to be there. But the moral is that lists of swearwords always result in merriment :)
posted by -harlequin- at 1:58 AM on October 23, 2007


Kurwa.
posted by pracowity at 2:11 AM on October 23, 2007


Ever since getting the Tenacious D album in 2001, I've found "Cockass" to be a really satisfying curse.
posted by autodidact at 2:13 AM on October 23, 2007


Yeah, the chart would be super interesting if there were also an American (or other English) variation and maybe even regional subsets of that.

At the risk of coming across as Amero-centric, I'm a bit surprised that...
A. So little of the US taboo around nigger has crossed the Atlantic. (I'm gathering that based on the similarity to "paki" which I'm guessing as a word plays a similar cultural role in British English.)
B. The separation between shit and fuck is so large... (Granted, American English doesn't have as many swear words, but there's plenty that could be in between and aren't.)

Also, I'm not really familiar with "spastic" as swearing; is that only when used as a noun or does it apply to adjective usage as well?
posted by pokermonk at 2:27 AM on October 23, 2007


Dr Ben Goldacre does Bad Science, not Jon Ronson.
posted by randomination at 2:36 AM on October 23, 2007


A 1998 survey is not representative of the current feeling on pejorative terms. I've a feeling that racial slurs are much higher on the BBC's List of Bad Words than they appear in that old linked version.
posted by seanyboy at 3:21 AM on October 23, 2007


the separation between shit and fuck is so large

t'aint.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 3:25 AM on October 23, 2007 [40 favorites]


Yeah I'm pretty sure if that was an American list then "twat" would be a little higher up.
posted by mikeweeney at 3:44 AM on October 23, 2007


Must be a British thing. C*** doesn't get as intense a reaction as f*** does where I live.

That's not my understanding. As I understood it, the 'c' word is second only to the 'n' word among Americans. Even Americans that I know who swear a lot as a matter of course tend not to use it because it's so taboo. Here in the UK, in contrast, it's almost a term of affection or endearment -- but then I am from one of maryh's Cunty McCunting Cuntmaster communities. It might be different down south?

Also: I am partial to the term 'cocksocket', which I think is much more offensive than 'cunt'. Cocksocket seems intended to reduce women solely to their function in relation to mens desire. Cunt, on the other cunt, is just a good old fashioned anglo-saxon swearword like shit, fuck or bastard.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 3:47 AM on October 23, 2007


I don't know why cunt is such an "ultimate swear". I personally think it's empowering, especially if a man calls me it. There is no swear you can call a man and have the same effect (supposedly). If I'm called a cunt by a man then I feel that he thinks I'm on the same playing field. I think bitch is much worse for a woman; it's demeaning (a female dog whose only purpose is to breed). But cunt? Naaa, it just means that I can play with the big boys.

And if I call someone a cunt and men hear it, the look alone is priceless. Women, however, get appauled and the look they give afterwards means that I won the argument. :)

In short, "cunt" is a win-win situation.
posted by dasheekeejones at 3:55 AM on October 23, 2007 [2 favorites]


Avenger----I totally agree (and awesome comment).

I didn't swear until I was in my early 20s. Now I make my husband blush.
posted by dasheekeejones at 3:57 AM on October 23, 2007


Joel Ronson had a blog, which like his father he has now abandoned. It was relatively precocious, but featured no instances of swearing.
posted by roofus at 4:01 AM on October 23, 2007


maryh, I think that the movie you saw was Orphans (IMDB).

I had also heard that London had a street called Gropecunt Lane in the past, which was the unsurprising venue for the local prostitutes. Wikipedia suggests that this was actually a common streetname in the Middle Ages.
posted by Jakey at 4:07 AM on October 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


Now I make my husband blush.

Shame. I hoped I'd found a potential new wife. I want a girl, just like the girl that married dear old dad.

Thats what your childhood is like when your parents are hyper-religious cunts.

My mother could swear for England. If she didn't like your latest girlfriend, then she was a 'fucking whore'. She could use even a moderate, non-swear word like 'cow' and imbue it with such power and malign venom that you felt completely violated. If I learned anything at all from her, I learned that it's not what you say, it's how you say it.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 4:07 AM on October 23, 2007


There's nothing funnier than having my wife tell me in the middle of an argument to "shut the fuck off."
Appropriate swearing is probably the hardest thing to learn in a language.
posted by bashos_frog at 4:15 AM on October 23, 2007 [4 favorites]


London had a street called Gropecunt Lane

Do you think that's where this Mefite is living?

Sadly Your search for Gropecunt Lane, near London, England did not match any locations. However, if you're in the mood for a spot of Gabba/Hardcore, you could always check out the tunes on Cunt Records.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 4:17 AM on October 23, 2007


As a kid, me and my friends somehow latched onto the word 'Dildo'. It meant "idiot" and it was a made up word.

Someone told us that it was, in fact, a rude word. Since we didn't believe them, we went and asked the teachers. Every single one told us that the word didn't mean anything.

We must have asked 20 teachers that question - most of them in their twenties or early thirties, 3/4 of them female. Nowadays they'd either put us on suspension or turn it into a reality tv show...
posted by twine42 at 4:31 AM on October 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


I thought it was going to be the N-word.
posted by L.P. Hatecraft at 4:39 AM on October 23, 2007


Thanks, Jakey. Orphans it is. I need to re-rent that to keep my swearing muscles limber. (It's also quite well done and humane, IIRC.)
posted by maryh at 4:51 AM on October 23, 2007


I'm confused about the connection between Jon Ronson and Ben Goldacre. Are they the same person, or not?

One of Goldacre's columns, the one which is a summary of his thoughts on bad science journalism, is really excellent. He writes:

“Why? Because papers think you won’t understand the ‘science bit’, all stories involving science must be dumbed down, leaving pieces without enough content to stimulate the only people who are actually going to read them - that is, the people who know a bit about science. Compare this with the book review section, in any newspaper. The more obscure references to Russian novelists and French philosophers you can bang in, the better writer everyone thinks you are. Nobody dumbs down the finance pages. Imagine the fuss if I tried to stick the word ‘biophoton’ on a science page without explaining what it meant. I can tell you, it would never get past the subs or the section editor. But use it on a complementary medicine page, incorrectly, and it sails through.”

...which I think is an excellent point and one that I'd not heard before.

He rails against humanities graduates' interpretation and criticism of science, but I think here he is ignoring, and contributing to, a big part of the problem. It's the cultural chasm between the sciences and humanities. We desperately need to reduce or bridge that gap.

I've always felt this way, being the kind of person who is interested in and feels comfortable in both worlds, but I've felt especially strongly about since my education at St. John's College. That's a “Great Books” school and everyone talks, and knows, about the fact that the curriculum is basically reading the great books of western culture. But what many fewer people know is that the program also has eight semesters (the entire program is a set four-year undergraduate degree, so eight semesters is every semester) of mathematics and six of laboratory science (the missing two are replaced in sophomore year with music). The science curriculum basically stops (everything in the program reflects the chronology of western thought) at about the first half of the 20th century—something I'm not entirely happy about, although so much happens beyond that that it would require itself another year just to cover it. But that does get you to the foundations of modern science, including relativity, quantum, molecular biology, evolutionary theory, etc. And, like everything else at SJC, this is done by studying the original works and, in the case of lab, doing many of the experiments.

So, for example, SJC graduates have a strong understanding of both Kant and Einstein. And this doesn't make peoples' heads explode.

It's possible for a modern educated person to be fluent in both the sciences and the so-called humanities.

And here's the thing: it seems to me that science journalists, of all people, should be strongly educated in both. A minority of science journalists have strong science backgrounds, and that's preferable in my opinion if we have to have one or the other but not both. Humanities graduates with only the paltry amount of science education that's part of general requirements just doesn't cut it. On the other hand, science graduates may be no more prepared to write about science not in their specialties than a humanities grad, though such people will never admit that. A science journalist needs a very strong basic science education along with a pretty good foundation in the humanities because he or she needs to be fluent in advanced cultural ideas. Additionally, I think ideally he/she would have some philosophy of science in combination with some special coursework in generalized critical analysis (both quantitative and holistic) of scientific subjects and research.

Anyway, the hostility between the “two cultures” of the humanities and the sciences is part of the problem because it increases the difficulties in communicating important shared cultural information to a general audience. There is the general problem of the educated “priesthood” jealously guarding their expertise from the hordes of unwashed, but the divide between the humanities and sciences adds the additional difficulty of a priesthood divided against itself, as well.

Whatever are all the contributing factors, it's certainly true that science journalism is very, very bad (no offense intended to the science journalists among us, such as digaman, who is quite good). And, as Goldacre discusses, this contributes to the larger problem of general scientific illiteracy by the general public and all the attendant problems that brings: quack science, scares, and the like.

For example, all of the argument about evolutionary psychology is driven by the science reporting of it at its most provocative. As Goldacre mentions, what's reported in science journalism is often based upon press releases and described inaccurately. The press releases may be about unpublished data and some quotes from some researchers. This is very far removed from the actual science and is most often either inaccurate or completely wrong. Yet it's this information which forms the basis for civil discussion. Whose fault is this? Science journalists.

We complain about journalism in general. And one of the bones of contention is the issue of objectivity and whether it's even possible or desirable. But in the case of science journalism, it's not only desirable, it's also easily possible. To my mind, this makes the failures of science journalism much more egregious than those of other forms of journalism. It really wouldn't be that relatively hard to get it right.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 4:54 AM on October 23, 2007 [4 favorites]


I thought it was going to be the N-word.

Three beautiful Nubian queens show up at the offices of a theatrical agency and ask that the agent consider taking them on his books.

"Maybe", he says, "but I'd have to see your act first."

They break out their equipment. The first woman takes out her violin and begins to play a fantastic piece by Bach. She's playing it note perfect, and the expression that she puts into it moves the agent to tears.

As she plays, the second woman begins singing along. She has a fine, classically trained voice and her singing is at least as accomplished as that of her sister.

As they play and sing, the third sister removes her coat to show herself in leotard and ballet pumps. She begins dancing in such a manner that you would rarely see outside of the greatest troupes in the world. Their whole show is phenomenal, and the agent can't wait to sign them.

"I was sceptical when you walked in", said the agent, "because we get some complete losers walk in off the street. But that was one of the finest performances I've ever seen in my life. I could fill theatres on Broadway with an act like yours. What do you call yourselves?"

"Three nigger cunts", the women replied.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 4:56 AM on October 23, 2007 [12 favorites]


I'll never look at a lemon the same way again.
posted by not_on_display at 4:59 AM on October 23, 2007


Oh, and Randy's swears during the last season of Trailer Park Boys are the best.
posted by not_on_display at 5:05 AM on October 23, 2007


I used to think cunt was a dirty word. Then I moved to the UK. I now use cunt as punctuation. It slightly more offensive than a comma, but not by much.

Also, there are loads of worse swearwords in the world. Just not in English, you elitist mulkunlutkuttajat.
posted by slimepuppy at 5:17 AM on October 23, 2007


here are loads of worse swearwords in the world. Just not in English,

The conceit that the "worst swearword in the world" would be in English is almost quaint in its provinciality.
posted by signal at 5:23 AM on October 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


People in the UK use the word 'cunt' as a term of endearment. Well, I do at least.

I've never understood why it's considered so taboo. If I call someone a bastard in an offensive context then I'm making a value judgement about them regarding something which may, technically, be correct. It's also something they can do nothing about and which really says nothing about who they are or what they do. If I call that same person a cunt then, irrespective of context, I'm very obviously in a fantasy land. There is simply no way that person is a vagina.
posted by vbfg at 5:31 AM on October 23, 2007


"Wanker" is the fourth worst swear word in England? Seriously?
posted by Saucy Intruder at 5:36 AM on October 23, 2007 [2 favorites]


Goldacre and Ronson are not the same person. I misread the post in the same way initially, seeing "Bad Science column" instead of Bad Science colleague.
posted by roofus at 5:39 AM on October 23, 2007


Was that first link a subliminal viral ad for Chessington World of Adventures?
posted by afx237vi at 5:41 AM on October 23, 2007


This reminds me of the Salon story where the dumbass dad who didn't know his tank engines accidentally taught his son that 'Percy' was a very bad word and inadvertently showed him how to use it to maximum effect.
posted by ulotrichous at 6:21 AM on October 23, 2007


Bart: We can say these swears anytime we want because they’re in the Bible!
Milhouse: I don’t think "Leviticus" is a swear.
Bart: Shut the hell up, you damn ass whore!
posted by kirkaracha at 6:23 AM on October 23, 2007


Jon Mitchell YAY!!
posted by leftoverboy at 6:38 AM on October 23, 2007


I had no idea that "wanker" was such a bad word. I've never been to England, but I always imagined that when I do go, I'd say things like, "Cheerio, you bloody wanker!" and "What a sodding arse he is" to shopkeepers and concierges, in my worst Sean Connery* impression, just to sound like an annoying "yank." I guess I'll just say everyday things in my bad Connery voice.

*I am fully aware that Connery is Scottish and his accent wouldn't make much sense in London, but it's all I got.
posted by Terminal Verbosity at 6:41 AM on October 23, 2007


I had no idea that "wanker" was such a bad word.

I think the British have a different attitude to swearing to the Americans. While we're happy to put it into a taxonomy, we don't think any of it is particularly a big deal. Nothing to get worked up about. For example, you'll get to see it on our main television channels -- though they tend to prefer to keep the fucks and the cunts until after the 9 o'clock watershed, most other swearing, including wanker, has no such restriction as long as it isn't in tv directed specifically at children.

And that's one of the things Americans are very uptight about. If I'm out in public, talking, as I usually am, in a way that's liberally peppered with fucks and cunts, if I'm with an American they'll invariably point out that there's a child present and I should moderate my language. However, the parents of said children rarely make such requests -- or even notice especially, because that kind of language is so common where I live
posted by PeterMcDermott at 6:54 AM on October 23, 2007


You can't keep anything from kids, better to just teach them not to do something rather than vainly try to hide it from them.
posted by caddis at 7:07 AM on October 23, 2007


The offensiveness of cunt depends of what part of the country you're in (as do many other swearwords) and what company you're in. It's thought of as very offensive round here but I've heard it used as a mild expletive in London, but then they're a bunch of ignorant cockney wankers who probably think the world ends at the M25.

But racial swearing is considered far more offensive, unless it's the older generation.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 7:12 AM on October 23, 2007


I remember when I was little and got a globe for Christmas, and I was excitedly spinning it about and exploring the bumpy, craggy surface of the earth, sounding out names and countries, and I came across "Niger" and said it aloud the way I imagined it would be pronounced...

I learned a new word that day.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 7:18 AM on October 23, 2007


*holds out swearjar*

Pay up motherfuckers!!
posted by Totally Zanzibarin' Ya at 7:26 AM on October 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


Why does this page not exist?
posted by ninebelow at 7:49 AM on October 23, 2007


True Story:

I was driving my then-4-year-old daughter to day care one morning, and after getting cut off by some Masshole, I said "Goldangit!" (no, really)

My child asked me what "goldangit" meant, so I told her it was an expression people sometimes use when they're angry but don't want to use a swear word.

"You mean like 'motherfucker'?" she asked.

"Exactly," I replied and made a mental note to remind my wife to ease back on the road rage.
posted by briank at 7:58 AM on October 23, 2007 [12 favorites]


they tend to prefer to keep the fucks and the cunts until after the 9 o'clock watershed

Not true. Politicians are even covered on the breakfast and lunchtime news...

Also: 'Nigger' is half as offensive as 'cunt'? Seriously?

As an Englishman with a particularly foul mouth (my nickname at Uni was VC - Vulgar Cunt), this list doesn't represent any demographic that I have lived in (including the US and Canada and most parts of England). The reaction that I am aware of to the various words just doesn't tally with the sliding scale they used.

I'd be interested to see what sort of people they interviewed - Old Grannies on Brighton Sea Front, or some Japanese tourists in Hyde Park?
posted by Brockles at 8:10 AM on October 23, 2007


Also, I'm not really familiar with "spastic" as swearing; is that only when used as a noun or does it apply to adjective usage as well?

Spastic is the British equivalent to "retard" in Canada and the US.

And I can't believe no one has posted this yet: Pulp Fiction: Fuckin' Short Version.
posted by arcticwoman at 8:29 AM on October 23, 2007


I'm reminded of this AskMe thread.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 8:42 AM on October 23, 2007


Spastic tends to be shortened to spaz in the playground (well of my youth) and refers to people who are physically inept. IE, 'Don't pick him to play football, he's a spaz!'

Spastic is a proper medical term. For years the Spastic Society was a charity for people with cerebral palsy (and other conditions like spina bifida?) who eventually changed their name to Scope because of the Spastic/Spaz insult. I've heard - but I'm sure it's apocryphal - that kids started using 'Scoper' as insult instead.

Why does this page not exist?

ninebelow.... I'm sure Nil By Mouth would be number one
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 8:46 AM on October 23, 2007


The conversation about the "worst swear word" happened in my house just a few weeks after my niece arrived. My husband made up some word at the time (my mind is thinking it's "balderdash"-ish, but I can't recall it specifically) and sold it to her as the "worst swear word". Thereafter, she used it pretty consistently until she realized (thanks to our giggle fits), that it was totally made up.

Kids are funny.
posted by parilous at 9:18 AM on October 23, 2007


Spastic tends to be shortened to spaz in the playground

Come on now, let's not forget spaz's venerable cousin spacker. In fact why bother using words at all when belming is much more effective. And yes, use of scoper is in full effect. It is almost as if it is impossible to control language...

And what, no mention of the Profanisaurus yet?
posted by ninebelow at 9:38 AM on October 23, 2007


Swearsaurus, How to insult, swear, cuss, and curse in 180 languages.

Where are cocksucker, dick, dickhead, bitch, jackass, sod off and bugger on that list? It seems quite anemic.

Calling anyone an idiot or stupid is, imo, more hurtful a swear than bastard, fucker, shit or bitch.

It's always interested me how the focus of swear words is different in various cultures. Like in Greece, the worse thing one can say to anyone is that they are a masturbator, seed of masturbation...anything to do with masturbation and in Italy there is an emphasis on ancestors and the word for cock, which punctuates the sentences of everyone like commas. That shocked the daylights out of me, to hear well heeled people rattling off catzo like it was nothing.

Amused me in England that the use of piss is used in describing being either drunk, raining a lot or irritating. ie Pissed out of my head (really drunk), pissing down hard (really raining) or pissed off (angry).
posted by nickyskye at 9:43 AM on October 23, 2007


Oh yeah, and I loved it in the movie, Closer, where the Clive Owen character finds release in cursing the Julia Roberts character after he finds out she's been elsewhere. Awesome scene.
posted by nickyskye at 9:46 AM on October 23, 2007


This topic fascinates me, and annoys me. Isn't life grand? I listen to a radio show where the host uses a lot of what we used to call 'profanity'. It's an American show, so he has to avoid some certain words.

How weird is it when you can declare the POTUS to be a sonovabitch (the truth of the statement being self-evident), but god damn it, if a caller DARES to say the word 'shit', or 'bullshit', the censor wets his pants and the call is terminated.

By the powers vested in me, as a Citizen of the United States of America, I hereby declare the abbreviation "F.C.C." to stand for "Federal Communications Cunts".

I liked the Jon Ronson article, it was cute (another 'c' word many dislike).

I'm not very social. I don't mind the kind of language I use very much, possibly because I'm rarely in a situation where I should do that, so I'm out of practice (I'm rarely around children, and don't work at a job nor attend church (another 'c' word)).

Recently I had a diving instructor declare "I was a very nasty person", because, when angry, I used the 'f' word, a lot, and objected to his criticizing my language (I was, after all, paying the incompetent motherfucker). My language was apparently a larger crisis than the fact I was a diver in water in distress. That instructor is a silly dangerous cunt.
posted by Goofyy at 9:54 AM on October 23, 2007


why is "cunt" the worst swear ever? i always believed it was "fuck". so what's the rationale?

must be a regional thing. "balls"? pfft.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 10:03 AM on October 23, 2007


Briank, I have a similar kid story:

One day when my kid was 3 and my Toyota was still barely working, we stalled momentarily at an intersection. After I got the infernal thing started again, my daughter piped up from the back seat:

"Mama... is this a goddamn car or a fucking car?"
posted by pernoctalian at 10:11 AM on October 23, 2007


my all time favorite curse is probably the one seen in this comedy sketch, "Spelling Bee". (NSFW for language, obviously)

I'm also a big fan of compounding them, for things like "hellfuck!" as well as bringing in daily actions and household objects for things like "cumsponge" and "ballhuffer".
posted by heeeraldo at 10:20 AM on October 23, 2007 [2 favorites]


We need to get languagehat in here. According to this Meta comment, he just co-wrote a book on curses and insults.

The conceit that the "worst swearword in the world" would be in English is almost quaint in its provinciality.

Certainly mulkunlutkuttajat (whatever the h--- it means) proves that immediately.
posted by LeLiLo at 10:26 AM on October 23, 2007


a similar kid story

Friends of mine were driving their very young son one time when he uttered his first word(s): "Dumb fuck!"

As they looked at each other, trying to figure out where he'd gotten that from, they realized he was trying to point out a passing dump truck.
posted by LeLiLo at 10:47 AM on October 23, 2007 [2 favorites]


Kids swearing is just plain awesome. Socially inappropriate cursing is funny enough, but incidental use of curse words as intensifiers just makes me smile like crazy.

Buddy of mine told me about his daughters talking to each other—five and three at the time, or thereabouts—and the older says to the younger, "wanna fuckin' peach?" Heh.
posted by cortex at 11:11 AM on October 23, 2007


fearfulsymmetry - I like that they changed the name of the shop to Scope, which led breifly to Scope being used as a synonym of Spaz.

There's also the case of Joey Deacon...
posted by Artw at 11:13 AM on October 23, 2007


Swearsaurus, How to insult, swear, cuss, and curse in 180 languages.

Fun but very unreliable.

he just co-wrote a book on curses and insults.

Well, co-wrote (the good parts are mine), and I learned a lot of excellent words and phrases. I already knew Norwegian jævla, being half-Norsk (jævla svenske 'fucking Swede!'), but Finnish vittu 'cunt' and perkele 'devil' (much stronger in Finnish), Arabic airi fik 'my cock in you,' Afrikaans jou ma se poes (pronounced "yo MAH-suh POOS") 'your mother's cunt,' and Dutch matennaier 'mates-fucker' ("It might be used to insult a person who reports to your boss that you stole a box of pens or that you arrived at work forty-five minutes late two days in a row") made my life that much better.

Kid story: My three-year-old grandson said yesterday "I'm a damnation!" "What are you?" "A damnation!" "Um, what's a damnation?" "A fire dog!" Awww....
posted by languagehat at 11:18 AM on October 23, 2007


I'd scarf down a whole wet bucket full of shit before I ate another plate of meecrob.
posted by quin at 11:19 AM on October 23, 2007


This thread gives me a cuntingle.
posted by oncogenesis at 11:23 AM on October 23, 2007


We always liked writing "Scunthorpe" on things when I was a kid.

You see what we did there? Pretty sneaky huh?
posted by Artw at 11:27 AM on October 23, 2007


In my ongoing mission to teach young children good swearwords I shouted the phrase 'fucking hell' in front of two young boys yesterday. Unfortunately I may have been drowned out by the awfully fucking loud fire alarm I had just accidentally set off in my apartment building.
posted by electricinca at 11:29 AM on October 23, 2007


The conceit that the "worst swearword in the world" would be in English is almost quaint in its provinciality.

Best language in the world too.
posted by Artw at 11:33 AM on October 23, 2007


We always liked writing "Scunthorpe" on things when I was a kid.

The first time I ever saw that joke, it was written like this: If Typhoo put the T in BriTain, who put the CUNT in sCUNThorpe?

eventually changed their name to Scope because of the Spastic/Spaz insult


I've seen it reported that it was changed to Mencap, a charity that serves the needs of the 'learning disabled' (once referred to as the mentally handicapped, hence the name). "He's a fucking Mencap" is definitely a fairly common insult by kids in these parts, as is 'special needs'. "Are you special needs?" literally translates to, "do you require additional help with teaching to overcome your learning difficulties?"
posted by PeterMcDermott at 11:57 AM on October 23, 2007


Flid is a lot worse than spastic. Because it's so horribly mean to the flids. CUNT!
posted by snoktruix at 12:27 PM on October 23, 2007


he just co-wrote a book on curses and insults.
Well, co-wrote


Weird, I could have sworn the comment I was responding to said "wrote." I was so confident of this I didn't even look at it after I pasted it in; I just went ahead and "corrected" it. Damn. Wait, what am I saying? I mean chikusho!

posted by languagehat at 12:32 PM on October 23, 2007


Afrikaans jou ma se poes (pronounced "yo MAH-suh POOS") 'your mother's cunt,'

Similar to Chilean "Andate a la Concha de tu Madre" (go to your mother's cunt), or more commonly simply "conchetumare".
posted by signal at 12:35 PM on October 23, 2007


Carkfum

(nah, you're not going to get it)
posted by Smedleyman at 1:16 PM on October 23, 2007


I think it's sad that flagging the v's at someone seems to be dying out... great fun in the playground, at football grounds, anywhere really. And it reminds a true Englishman of his natural hatred of the French.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 1:32 PM on October 23, 2007


Grumpy Cunt
posted by NeonSurge at 2:00 PM on October 23, 2007



To those Americans who are claiming that the c-word isn't the "worst" curse in the English language, I ask you to explain whether an American politician could get away with saying it in any context.

We've had lots of them say fuck and shit, no problem-- but I have never in my life heard anyone in public life even utter the c-word.

It is quite literally unsayable in polite company-- at least here in NY where you can say everything but the n-word without anyone being the least bit offended. But the c-word continues to go unspoken and unwritten.

And I'm afraid to post it for fear of links to my real name!
posted by Maias at 2:32 PM on October 23, 2007


I always thought cockholster was more offensive than cunt.
posted by BrotherCaine at 2:32 PM on October 23, 2007


Flid is a lot worse than spastic. Because it's so horribly mean to the flids. CUNT!

What's the smallest pub in the world? The Flid's Arms
What's the biggest pub in the world? The Mong's Head.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 2:35 PM on October 23, 2007


And I can't believe no one has posted this yet: Pulp Fiction: Fuckin' Short Version.

I see that, and I raise you Seven Minutes in Deadwood.
posted by FelliniBlank at 2:40 PM on October 23, 2007


Flid is a lot worse than spastic. Because it's so horribly mean to the flids.

I don't know why that reminded me of this, but it did.
posted by vbfg at 2:56 PM on October 23, 2007


It's a double Deacon!
posted by Artw at 3:19 PM on October 23, 2007


Ah yes, the ubiquitous Finnish vittu.

Much more versatile than fuck. Any Finnish teen could put every Tarantino film to shame with their pedestrian usage of vittu.

It's become such a general curse word so divorced from its root that you can combine it with other, seemingly contradictory cursewords. Like 'vitun mulkku', literally meaning 'dick of cunt' though it sounds more like 'cunting dick', which is pretty awesome in its own right.
posted by slimepuppy at 3:29 PM on October 23, 2007


Weird. Everyday banter in Ireland is a least as profane as in the UK, but "cunt" is unacceptable pretty much all the time - although (at least in my circle) I've noticed references to it are on the up. People say things like "You know that motherfucker is a real 'see you next tuesday'". If the word is uttered the volume will often be dropped, whereas "fucker" is trumpeted loudly.

Here, if you wanted to start a fight, you'd use "cunt", whereas fucker, asshole, wanker etc are practically compliments.
posted by tiny crocodile at 3:36 PM on October 23, 2007


Huh. I won't even type the n-word, but I regularly use cunt as a term of endearment.
posted by honeydew at 3:51 PM on October 23, 2007


Come now Peter, they're only words. And your mom sounded abusive. My swearing isn't abusive. More of once I get going, it's hard to stop. It's probably because I always hung around men instead of women.

But all and all, the "c" word could be worse. It could be this.

And to me, cunt is far less worse than "pussy". I HATE that word. Sounds like you're describing genitalia that looks like a dried up apricot.
posted by dasheekeejones at 4:11 PM on October 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


The French word for seal, as in sea lion, is phoque, pronounced fuck with a French accent.
posted by nickyskye at 5:13 PM on October 23, 2007


use of scoper is in full effect.

I still remember being in my English Language class at high school, and being taught how "Spastics Society" was being changed, and how words acquire pejorative connotations. My friend Jay and I instantly started trying to come up a suitable, Scope based taunt. Horrible little shits we were. I felt a bit better about it when Ricky Gervais related a similar story in Animals.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 5:55 PM on October 23, 2007


My 5yro at the time daughter swore. I told her she shouldn't use that word, because it would upset some people.
A few months later she says:
"Dad, you're a fucker."
I asked why she said that and she replied.
"Well, those words don't upset you."
posted by bystander at 8:13 PM on October 23, 2007


The French word for seal, as in sea lion, is phoque, pronounced fuck with a French accent.

We also have fucké. (note: if the fucked object is feminine it would requires a second "e")
posted by phoque at 8:54 PM on October 23, 2007


To be honest, I thought the word would be "felch".

I can't believe no one's mentioned Larry motherfucking David yet! I mean, what a cunt!
posted by A dead Quaker at 8:55 PM on October 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


Seriously, though, what does "mulkunlutkuttajat" mean?
posted by OverlappingElvis at 12:03 PM on October 24, 2007


OverlappingElvis: the closest equivalent at least in British slang is "cockgobblers".

Be sure to use it in a sentence twice today and it'll stick.
posted by slimepuppy at 1:18 PM on October 24, 2007


Take a look at the study cited in the Bad Science column -- here. On page 8, there's a topography of bad language that LOOKS EXACTLY LIKE AN ERECT CHOAD.

Or is it just me?
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 1:32 PM on October 24, 2007


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