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Why do people use 'bad'words?
April 13, 2010 7:02 AM   Subscribe

A web debate on cursing in private, public and online, part of a series of multiple perspective posts on the NYT called Room for Debate, has several experts, including Georgetown U. Professor and author of You just don't understand, Deborah Tanner, yet no one mentions George Carlin and his take on the seven words you can't say. Some claim we've always cursed, while others claim we curse on the web about as much as we do in real life and there is data people, on average, swear .3% to .7% of the time and frequency per person has more to do with personality than class.
posted by Berkun (118 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
the fuck now?
posted by The Whelk at 7:10 AM on April 13, 2010 [4 favorites]


Personality. Definitely. When I was little (under 3), I loved Sesame Street. Mom got sick of watching Sesame Street all day and turned on Mr. Rogers for a change of pace. Apparently, I shot her a look, told her "Mr. Rogers is an asshole" and made her change the channel back.

I still swear a LOT to this day...
posted by bitter-girl.com at 7:10 AM on April 13, 2010 [5 favorites]


Cursing may help relieve pain.
posted by kinnakeet at 7:11 AM on April 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


FFFFFFFFFFUUUUUUUUUUUUU-
posted by evidenceofabsence at 7:12 AM on April 13, 2010


Resolved: This is a BFD
posted by hal9k at 7:12 AM on April 13, 2010


!#*%^$#!@(&%#!?

There, I said it.
posted by R. Mutt at 7:13 AM on April 13, 2010


Mark Twain put it best: "Under certain circumstances, profanity provides a relief denied even to prayer."
posted by kinnakeet at 7:14 AM on April 13, 2010 [12 favorites]


Fuck y'all.
posted by yeoz at 7:21 AM on April 13, 2010


Oh, Jupiter's Thunder!
posted by spoobnooble at 7:22 AM on April 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Related
posted by Brent Parker at 7:23 AM on April 13, 2010


The oaths this thread shall engender! Zounds!
posted by Mister_A at 7:25 AM on April 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


What in the Palin?
posted by shakespeherian at 7:26 AM on April 13, 2010


I love the 'educated'.

One has to pity those poor uneducated souls who know no better than to use all of their vocabularies as they see fit. It takes an education to choose deliberately never to use an entire class of words.

I remember those special classes at university in 'Never Needing To Say Fuck Again'. They were fun. Though I never did get the hang of the class in 'Avoiding Emotional States Likely To Cause Use Of The Word 'Bollocks'.
posted by motty at 7:28 AM on April 13, 2010 [17 favorites]


Only the badassest of heroes can pull off these exclamations:

Sands of Zanzibar!

Sweet mother of Preston Tucker!

Sweet Molly Brown!

Eyes without a face!

Mutual of Omaha!
posted by kmz at 7:31 AM on April 13, 2010 [8 favorites]


I was helping a friend move some heavy stuff one day, and he dropped something on his foot and shouted "Son of a biscuit maker!" I gave him a look, and he said "I am a High School teacher; I can say that."
posted by GenjiandProust at 7:37 AM on April 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


Dagnabbit, don't forget the minced oath.
posted by kinnakeet at 7:38 AM on April 13, 2010


By the power of Grayskull!
posted by Comrade_robot at 7:38 AM on April 13, 2010


So when I get into a TV series, I really get into it-- I've been known to watch entire seasons over the course of two or three days. I was introduced to Deadwood during my junior year in college, and completed all three goddamn seasons within a week and a half. My friends noticed the change first. I started to develop a bad fucking case of cussmouth around the end of the first goddamn season; by the end of the third, though I was out of fucking control. It was no fucking help that my goddamn cocksucking classes were all in seminar format, and being the brilliant fucking asshole genius I was, I couldn't keep my goddamn motherfucking trap shut and started letting fly during my fucking lectures.

So, uh, let that be a lesson.
posted by The White Hat at 7:39 AM on April 13, 2010 [12 favorites]


Yeah right, what is .7% really? Is it .3% American for that bad word that the Brits are always using?
posted by vapidave at 7:41 AM on April 13, 2010


Christ on a bike, The White Hat.
posted by theredpen at 7:43 AM on April 13, 2010


I'm not really a swearer. At one time this would've been because of some personal discipline, but I've since rethought my position. I don't have any particular problem with so-called "bad language," I just don't ever really feel like using it myself. Maybe it's because of my personality, or maybe it's just because I don't feel it contributes anything to the conversation. I can often be overly logical in my word choice, and come across as blunt. In most cases swearing is wholly extraneous, so I don't bother. Not that I sit there and contemplate if I should do it; I don't really think about it anymore. "Darn" just comes out of my mouth more naturally than "damn."

I do like minced oaths. I've been known to say "holy monkey bladders" on too many occasions.

I am more prone to toss in a punchy swear online than in a personal conversation because I have more time to decide if it's a useful bit of seasoning before I post it. I don't do that very often though. It's so rare that I swear in real life that sometimes I'll toss in something really vulgar unexpectedly when I'm talking with my very closest friends just to get a reaction out of them. For some reason I think that's funny. Maybe I should take it to AskMe and be told I need therapy.
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis at 7:44 AM on April 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


When I worked in a corporate environment, I was once admonished to keep my blue expressions out of the work place. Apparently, as my reaction to my mother's extreme aversion to swearing, I developed a vocabulary associated in dime novels with stevedores who've had large shipping containers fall & crush their feet. Honestly, the woman blushed when her sister referred to us kids as "little farts."

Now, I work in a setting where my immediate supervisor is a Baptist preacher by avocation. In the year & a half I've been working here, I've noticed that my language has cleaned up (a lot) and her's has gotten perceptively, um, less preacherly.

I like the MiddleMan link, thanks
kmz. Now, I'll be much more likely to use "Depeche Mode!", "Iwo Jima" or "Hound of the Baskervilles!" when I'm looking for an oath.

One thing I am aware of though--my use of profanity has not stopped either of my sons from being fucking potty-mouths.
posted by beelzbubba at 7:47 AM on April 13, 2010


I've always been a fan of the profanity mash-up, throwing random exclamations in the blender and seeing what pops out. Favorites include "Sweet Jimeny Fuck-All" and "Take a Flying Fuck at a Rolling Christ on Crutches".
posted by FatherDagon at 7:52 AM on April 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


Swearing at code makes it work better. Fact.
posted by Artw at 7:57 AM on April 13, 2010 [16 favorites]


What's your favorite swear word?
posted by avoision at 7:58 AM on April 13, 2010


Heavens to Murgatroid. There, I've said it.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 7:59 AM on April 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


Was Biden really "widely denounced" for saying, "This is a big fucking deal," when HCR was passed, as this article claims?

In my circle, we were all nodding along, agreeing with him. I think people laughed a little, that it was caught on the mic and Biden was again the butt of a few jokes, but that was it.
posted by misha at 8:00 AM on April 13, 2010


I used to temp at an after school club, playing football with little kids. One day when they were particularly crazy at one point the f-word escaped my mouth. Four of the kids immediately ran to tell one other of the supervisors, who of course said no problem, just don't let it happen again. We kept on playing. Then this 11 year old did a nasty tackle on a 6 year old and I was looking after the crying little kid with a big bruise on his shin... I was looking at it saying, "Poor kid! ach fuck! WHOOPS I said it again!" - "No it's alright!" said he. I learned that swearing is good in some situations... I think at that moment it made that little kid feel better.

Also I've borderline tourettes, so fuck fuck fuck fuckfuckfuck. fuck. & also cockdrizzle.
posted by yoHighness at 8:01 AM on April 13, 2010


Great googily moogily.
posted by entropicamericana at 8:01 AM on April 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


Barnacles!
posted by Sailormom at 8:02 AM on April 13, 2010 [4 favorites]


claim we curse on the web about as much as we do in real life

I would never write jesustittyfuckingchrist, but I just might say it.
posted by three blind mice at 8:08 AM on April 13, 2010


Barnacles!

My 4 year olds non-ironically swear with "fishpaste!"
posted by DU at 8:08 AM on April 13, 2010


Mambo dog-face to the banana patch!
posted by bitslayer at 8:08 AM on April 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


I have found myself saying "Billy Bob Thorton" recently
posted by jpdoane at 8:15 AM on April 13, 2010


Swearing at code makes it work better. Fact.

This also works for bicycle repairs.
posted by Mister_A at 8:17 AM on April 13, 2010


Also, I knew a woman whose phone number spelled out "fucknut".
posted by Mister_A at 8:18 AM on April 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


I curse a lot less online than I do in real life. My fingers aren't as fast as my mouth.

Favorite fake swear: fushtugina. Made up (I think) by my mom. When we were kids she would drop something or burn herself on the stove and yell "Oh fu... [pause, check for presence of kids] shtugina!"
posted by JoanArkham at 8:19 AM on April 13, 2010


I couldn't keep my goddamn motherfucking trap shut and started letting fly during my fucking lectures.

I started keeping track sometime in season 2 but my imression was Deadwood tended to keep away from 'motherfucking', though it clearly had no problem with fuck and cunt. this comment hs motivated me to look this up, and apparently it would have been anachronistic, according to this interview with David Milch, creator of Deadwood. So maybe you're just a pottymouth, The White Hat.

While we're putting the scores on the doors, I'd like to point out my mother was called into school on multiple occasions for my saying 'fuck' and 'christ' when I was five.
posted by biffa at 8:29 AM on April 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


I curse like a sailor, and have done so since junior high. I enjoy cursing.

(SHITCOCK BITCHFUCKER)
posted by brundlefly at 8:34 AM on April 13, 2010


Rahm Emanuel. There, I've said it.
posted by scratch at 8:42 AM on April 13, 2010


I swear a lot (and my parents constantly bitch at me about it even thought it's one of those 'guess where I picked this shit up from' kind of things). I tend to keep a lid on it at work although every so often you can hear one of us murmur something quietly (since our office is dead silent, you can hear everything).

I do blame it on working in the junkyard since people would call up with some variation of 'where's my fucking part' and the standard reply was something along the lines of 'oh, your fucking part? well, we put your piece of shit motherfucking part on the shitass truck this morning so shut the fuck up.'

I even got an award 2 years in a row on the floor I lived on in college for being able to cram the most swear words into a sentence.

fuckity.
posted by sperose at 8:44 AM on April 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Profane: Watergate tapes. Bailout. Dick Cheney.
posted by effluvia at 8:47 AM on April 13, 2010


Stephen Fry on swearing.
posted by The Ultimate Olympian at 8:47 AM on April 13, 2010


Judas Priest, say a little prayer and loosen up people.
posted by vapidave at 8:48 AM on April 13, 2010


Profane: Watergate tapes. Bailout. Dick Cheney.

Watergate = goshdarnitallgollygeewillikers

Dick Cheney = motherf'ing@3*&^$####???!^&)
posted by blucevalo at 8:49 AM on April 13, 2010


I guess I just don't understand how someone could title an article/intro/debate Why Do Educated People Use Bad Words?, write more than fifty or so words about it, and not feel dirty enough to change the damn title to something less ridiculous.
posted by six-or-six-thirty at 8:51 AM on April 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


The complete Captain Haddock.

I'm unfortunately a lot less creative, cursing more like an ordinary sailor than the good captain.
posted by ecurtz at 8:53 AM on April 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


Are you cussing with me?
posted by Windopaene at 8:55 AM on April 13, 2010


The complete Captain Haddock

Oh, so that's what my grandfather was modeling himself on.

He frequently added a few ripe blasphemous ones, along the lines of Jesus H Baldheaded Christ, after which I always had to excuse myself to go laugh in the other room.
posted by theredpen at 8:58 AM on April 13, 2010


Non-British readers may like to familiarise themselves with the ultimate compendium of swearsmagoria.
posted by biffa at 9:00 AM on April 13, 2010


My wife, a teacher, uses "Son of a motherless goat".

In the extremes of frustration, I have been noted to use words too blue for Metafilter.
posted by never used baby shoes at 9:01 AM on April 13, 2010


I only swear in the case of righteous indignation.
posted by StickyCarpet at 9:05 AM on April 13, 2010


I've always been a fan of the profanity mash-up

I do this. I think my favorite is still 'fuck you to hell,' closely followed by an exasperated 'oh, shit me.'
posted by shakespeherian at 9:07 AM on April 13, 2010


Shut the front door!
posted by Solon and Thanks at 9:09 AM on April 13, 2010


I still think that "panties" is far more likely to cause a record-needle scratch full stop slack mouth fully agog stare-on than any other English word.
posted by Mister_A at 9:09 AM on April 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


I swear significantly more in real life than I do online. There's a visceral quality to a good swear - a good swearword has to have a nice mouthfeel, building up in the mouth and coming out with a punch. I like variations on the the of "fuck" the most for this reason. "Motherfucker" is a great one-two-one-two punch. MUthaFUckA! And you can purr if if you like, too. I am partial to "everliving fuck" for the same reason, like a glissando of chimes with a big wallap the end.

Shit, fuck, cunt, bitch, dick - they're all words with a nice hard consonant at the end. They are immensely pleasing to say, in the appropriate moment. It's just not the same online. Online I show off a bit with more complicated sentence structure and my five dollar words; in meat space I swear like a biker whose just discovered a cat turd in their helmet.
posted by Jilder at 9:11 AM on April 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


Occasionally for my comics stuff I get to write something in one of the 2000ad universe and use one of the futuristic swears, which are of 80s vintage and no doubt invented by Tharg himself. This probably means nothing to anyone who didn't grow up in Britain in the 80s, but times I got to write a "Drokk!", "Stomm!", or (my favorite) "Stak!" were all very special personal moments.

(Modern future swears such as "Frak" are just rubbish though, IMHO).
posted by Artw at 9:17 AM on April 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


I pick up odd language from comics. "Keen" came from The Tick, and "Crikey!" and "Oh Crumbs" from Danger Mouse. Fudge and Fudgesicles are my own (I think). "Son of a motherless goat" - also good.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:24 AM on April 13, 2010


I swear like a biker whose just discovered a cat turd in their helmet.

I am so stealing this.
posted by brundlefly at 9:29 AM on April 13, 2010


You can say "fudge", but everyone knows what you are thinking.
posted by Artw at 9:36 AM on April 13, 2010


The first time I ever swore in front of my mother, I was at my grade-school playground with a basketball, and had lost track of time. She walked all the way from home to the court to come get me; when I asked why, she told me what time it was, and I responded "fuck."

Her eyes got very, very wide, and I realized the enormity of what I'd done. I was so mortified that I actually dropped to my knees and said "I am soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo sorry!" At that, she burst out laughing, and said "oh, I don't care about that, but you should have seen your face." I still didn't swear in front of her again until I was in my 30s.

Years later, in high school, I expressed my desire to buy some Doc Martens, thinking it was all rebellious and cool. She said "good, it's about time you got some decent shoes." I never bought them.
posted by davejay at 9:38 AM on April 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


Her fucking name is Deborah Tannen, not Tanner. Shit.
posted by iamkimiam at 9:47 AM on April 13, 2010


frequency per person has more to do with personality than class

This word, I do not think it means what you think it means.

Perhaps the term you were looking for was "socioeconomic status" -- the frequency with which one swears in public is very related to class.
posted by thesmophoron at 9:51 AM on April 13, 2010


Belgium!
posted by DataPacRat at 9:59 AM on April 13, 2010


My dad worked on a welding crew that worked outdoors. One day a guy came up to him on a smoke break, looked at him, and said "Gimme one of those mutherfuckin' sonsabitches." My dad said "what" and the guy repeated, a bit annoyed, "Gimme one of those mutherfuckin' sonsabitches" and looked at the butt in my dad's hand. Comprehension dawned. "Ohhh, you mean a cigarette" and handed him one.

So naturally that's how he bummed his smokes from that point on.
posted by Hardcore Poser at 10:00 AM on April 13, 2010


My mash-up favorite: Aww, for the love of fucking.
posted by elwoodwiles at 10:05 AM on April 13, 2010


There was a comment in a recent thread that was something along the lines of "people without power tend to use swear words to make themselves feel powerful." I can't find it for the fuckin' life of me.
posted by mdaugherty82 at 10:22 AM on April 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


You know, I went and googled for the love of balls just now, because I wasn't sure if I'd mangled that one myself or picked it up off of someone else. Turns out I'm one of the top google hits for the phrase. I'm kind of proud of that.

My ex was fond of "Christ in a bucket," which I think is what happens when you mix "Christ on a biscuit" with Deadheads.
posted by nebulawindphone at 10:22 AM on April 13, 2010


Interesting. So, I'm a college lecturer in Philosophy and I was leading a conversation on ancient Cynicism (Diogenes, et al.) earlier this term when for some reason a fragment of Kafka's diaries popped into my head as a perfect (albeit anachronistic) summary of the Cynical position: "Only the limited circle is pure."

So with a self-satisfied smile, I intoned the Kafka quote and looked for the glance of recognition from at least those of my students that had HEARD of Kafka, if not read him. Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Incredulously, I asked the class: "Have NONE of you heard of Franz Kafka? Author? Metamorphosis? Amerika? The Trial? Buehler?" Crickets and tumbleweeds. I was taken aback but realized here was my chance to turn an entire class of students onto Kafka's work, so I began to fill in the backstory (albeit briefly) before excitedly and completely unconsciously exclaiming: "I can't believe you haven't read Kafka. His stuff is fucking fantastic."

Utter silence. Followed by this comment from the kid in the back row: "Well, why didn't you just say so." It broke the tension, but for that split second I saw what little was left of my minimum-wage teaching gig slipping through my fucking fingers. I broke the ice the next day by reassuring the class that lectures from thereon out would be more "basic cable" and less "HBO." Now THAT was a distinction they could grok.

Haven't had any fucking problems with obscenity in class since. Thank fucking god.
posted by joe lisboa at 10:29 AM on April 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Further to biffa's recommendation further up, Roger's Profanisaurus is partly available online. If you have even a vague interest in rude words you should have a look now. Yer fookin' wanker.
posted by i_cola at 10:31 AM on April 13, 2010


I've always been a fan of the profanity mash-up

When I was in school there was this kid who would call people completely nonsense insults like "dickhole" and "dickass." And he wasn't trying to be ironic or funny, either.

We responded by creating a D+D style "Random insult generator," which was a table with big long columns of every cuss word we could think of, and you could roll dice to create completely new and unheard-of cusses on the fly. Good times.
posted by drjimmy11 at 10:37 AM on April 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think it was about 4th grade that I really took up the ol' swearing. John and I would hang out at his house in summer and cuss like little sailors.

I think I remember the first time I heard "shit" was like 1st grade and a kid got in trouble and he was like 4th (a mixed small school) and I was like "what's shit?" and no-one would tell me.

But yeah, I dunno. Is it personality? I am anxious, nervous and very tetchy. Is swearing a way to "get it out" without having to really do worse things? Like mentioned above -- a "healing" effect? Probably. A salve for my mother fucking soul.

Praise fucking jesus for the dichotomy between sacred, mundane and profane! Or something.
posted by symbioid at 10:38 AM on April 13, 2010


Also, probably the most awkward moment of my life is hearing my English professor father say the phrase "What the fuck is pussy?"

(He was quoting from some hip-hop track one of his students had made, and actually seemed rather proud of himself for having said it.)
posted by drjimmy11 at 10:39 AM on April 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm simply a fan of words that are fun to say purely for how they feel and the rhythms they have. It just so happens that many of the 'bad' words are very fun to say. Often when I curse, even in front of large groups of people, it's not for the purpose of saying a curse particularly, it's just that the most fulfilling and accurate way to express myself in that moment is that particular word. And I think most people know this if it's done for that reason, rather than to seem edgy or appear a certain way or another.

Saying 'Jesus Christ' in the way you say it when complaining or upset just feels really good to me, in the same way that saying Fuck! or Holy Shit! or MotherFucker can feel in other kinds of moments. I understand why this upsets certain people, but the frequency by which it's said in this way has more to do with how natural it feels to say those syllables in that rhythm in that context, than any commentary on god, or religion or anything. Saying Satan! or Beelzebub! has only limp appeal as an expletive, which I find infinitely curious.

I do think its silly to replace one word for another, when everyone knows the what you mean - what's the difference? Saying fudge instead of fuck, or a-hole instead of asshole just seems to be an end-run. A dodge. The meaning and intent and desire is exactly the same (Which did make Frak entertaining for awhile). The only difference is the prudish sense of self-censorship and pretense in pretending not to wish to express what you wanted to express in the most natural way to do so, but doing it with wink to real word, instead of using an entirely different one instead. In a way this behavior is stranger to me than cursing itself.
posted by Berkun at 10:56 AM on April 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


The F-bomb is starting to feel like a meme that has run its course.
posted by mecran01 at 11:05 AM on April 13, 2010


Swearing at code makes it work better. Fact.

Yes, but swearing in code is the difference-maker. Some bright-eyed young thing is likely to go spelunking through your painstakingly-enumerated business logic if you document your thirty-eight edge cases, but ain't nobody gonna screw with the block following "the fucking Oracle stored procedure doesn't handle half the goddamn use cases, so we'll fix it here."
posted by Mayor West at 11:05 AM on April 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


I like to think of all german-based parameter names in SAP as being really filthy swears. They are when i fucking say them, I can assure you of that.
posted by Artw at 11:06 AM on April 13, 2010



"Why is this check made out to 'I'll see you in hell?'"
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 11:09 AM on April 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Her fucking name is Deborah Tannen, not Tanner. Shit.

Indeed. I feel like I cited her in almost every paper I wrote in college.
posted by Houyhnhnm at 11:14 AM on April 13, 2010


Also, cursing in a foreign language - even one in which you are fluent - just doesn't feel the same. I've no idea why this should be so.
posted by digitalprimate at 11:24 AM on April 13, 2010


My absolute favorite use of the f word: the crime scene investigation in The Wire, season 1, when variations of that word are all that McNulty and Bunk utter.
posted by bearwife at 11:26 AM on April 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


I'm getting pretty fucking tired of all the false equivalencies between Biden's F-bomb and Cheney's.

One of my uncles was an Air Force sergeant. Nice, soft-spoken, church-going man. I never heard swear one from him for about 25 years. Then we went fishing one time and he cussed a blue streak pretty much nonstop, as you might expect a former Air Force sergeant to. I guess he figured I was old enough that he didn't have to filter himself.

I swear a lot when I'm mad. Apparently I'm in a rut since my wife says she can mouth along with what I'm saying. I need to mix things up a little.

My favorite part of Inside the Actors Studio is when James Lipton asks people their favorite curse words, at least when they're not too chickenshit to say one. You haven't heard "motherfucker" until you've heard Laurence Fishburne say it. Beautiful.

Stephen Fry on swearing

Contains much less actual swearing than anticipated.
posted by kirkaracha at 11:26 AM on April 13, 2010


My son is 9 months old now, and I've already decided that I'm not going to teach him that there are bad words. Instead, I'm going to teach him that there are words you shouldn't say around "the squares."
posted by pjdoland at 11:39 AM on April 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


Also, cursing in a foreign language - even one in which you are fluent - just doesn't feel the same. I've no idea why this should be so.

On the flip side, I absolutely loved cussing like crazy in Japan. I sort of assumed most people wouldn't understand "motherfucking donkey raping shitshow," and it was kind of exhilarating to be able to rant at high levels of cuss surrounded by people. Of course, there were probably plenty of people who did understand me and were horrified, and simply had the good graces not to stare in horror.
posted by shen1138 at 11:41 AM on April 13, 2010


> Favorite fake swear: fushtugina. Made up (I think) by my mom

I'm guessing your mom either misremembered or was inspired by the Yiddish word furshlugginer, which was used frequently by MAD magazine. Wiki says it means "confounded" but MAD used it to mean anything or nothing, as I recall. It just sounds funny so they tossed it in wherever they felt like. It's still a great substitue for the f-bomb, being even more drawn-out and guttural.
posted by Quietgal at 11:45 AM on April 13, 2010


I swear more often in person than I do only (unless I've well and truly upset), because typing out a swear word is usually too much effort.
posted by ShawnStruck at 11:56 AM on April 13, 2010


You see what happens, Berkun? You see what happens when you find a stranger in the Alps?

This is what happens when you feed a stranger scrambled eggs.
posted by gompa at 12:07 PM on April 13, 2010


Robocop TV cut
posted by Artw at 12:16 PM on April 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


>I'm guessing your mom either misremembered or was inspired by the Yiddish word furshlugginer

OMG, that may very well be the case! Although she's Episcopalian, my mom grew up in Flushing, Queens and her speech has always been peppered with Yiddish words. (At the time, I never understood why everyone thought it was so funny when little 6-year old Irish/Italian me would exclaim "You guys are all mishugina!")
posted by JoanArkham at 12:29 PM on April 13, 2010


I've been trying to teach myself not to swear before the child learns to speak.

It's going ok, except when I drive[1].
Maybe I can get some sort of soundproof barrier between the seats or something...

[1] Or drop something. Or get stuck behind that lady writing a check. Or forget the salt in a recipe. Or delete the wrong email. Or get stabbed in the eye with a children's toy.
posted by madajb at 12:44 PM on April 13, 2010


When I was in school there was this kid who would call people completely nonsense insults like "dickhole" and "dickass." And he wasn't trying to be ironic or funny, either.

Is it just me, or does dickhole make perfect sense?
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 12:45 PM on April 13, 2010


I have... failed... in that regard.
posted by Artw at 12:45 PM on April 13, 2010


Ah, Joan, only in New York! Yiddishisms are part of every New Yorker's cultural heritage - use them proudly! (It's spelled "meshuggener", by the way, and it means "crazy people". The adjective meaning "crazy" is "meshuggah". Oy, now I'm being a noodge so I'll shut up.)
posted by Quietgal at 12:50 PM on April 13, 2010


Being married to a New Yorker for 12 years has done terrible things to my vocabulary. *sigh*

He gets annoyed when I ask him not to swear so much when we're visiting my folks. "But your dad swears more than I do!"

"Yeah, but he's my dad!"
posted by Lexica at 12:51 PM on April 13, 2010


Jesus Herbert Walker Christ who gives a fuck?
posted by cmoj at 12:57 PM on April 13, 2010


Is it just me, or does dickhole make perfect sense?

Well, yes, in the sense that there is a hole on the end. It is a thing that exists. But it's not exactly a commonly-used insult. In fact I have never heard anyone else say it before or since.
posted by drjimmy11 at 1:23 PM on April 13, 2010


I started to develop a bad fucking case of cussmouth around the end of the first goddamn season; by the end of the third, though I was out of fucking control.

Yo, my wife used ta complain dat I would curse a goddamn blue streak after watchin' da fuckin' Sopranos, but I'd also talk wit a muthafuckin' Jersey accent.

Den we had da kids and I hadda stop watchin' reruns an' shit.
posted by zarq at 1:24 PM on April 13, 2010


Steven Pinker had an interesting chapter on swearing in The Stuff of Thought. For some people that was enough to knock a whole half star off the rating.
posted by robertc at 1:24 PM on April 13, 2010


I mean, why limit yourself to the hole? Why not call someone the whole thing? It's like calling someone "left buttcheek."
posted by drjimmy11 at 1:25 PM on April 13, 2010


I don't remember "dickhole" but "dillhole" (and the variants "dillweed" and "dickweed") was really common in middle school.
posted by JoanArkham at 1:27 PM on April 13, 2010


"Bad" words are extremely useful when running into people who think "fuck" and "shit" are acronyms.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 1:51 PM on April 13, 2010


What?! Still, no mention of Maledicta - the international journal of verbal aggression? Poetic Insults from Ghana, Celebrity Sick Jokes, Vulgarisms in Ancient Tongues, Modern Swahili Vulvas and Vaginas, The Schitt Clan History, How Bulgarians relieve their souls and of course the Slang of Prostitutes, Homosexuals, Pedophiles, Flagellators, Transvestites, and Necrophiliacs? It's all there and much more...
posted by ouke at 2:12 PM on April 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


Aw this is when Utah gets to shine with our Mormon swear words. Shoelaces. Cheese and rice. Frack. Bullspit. Heck. Gash. Scrud. Oh look there's even a Facebook Group.
posted by msbutah at 2:30 PM on April 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Gash.

Not many Mormons getting over to Edinburgh then?
posted by Artw at 2:32 PM on April 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


I can see it's time for this again.
posted by not_that_epiphanius at 2:33 PM on April 13, 2010


A personal invention - "Shitdamnhell motherfuckingsonbitch" - said about that fast.

There are also "Well, fuck me tender"s or the rare "Bugger me raw"s when surprised.

I remember once when I was having a particularly bad day at a prior job, and I was flinging around f-words pretty fast and furious out back of the building during a smoke break. One of my coworkers then asked if I could say the f-word any more. Red flag to a bull. I then stood there and offered a two minute screed, gently increasing speed and slightly increasing volume as I went, using every variation of the word I could think of.

I then looked at the coworker and said "Fuck it. Now I'm done."
posted by Samizdata at 3:21 PM on April 13, 2010


gompa: The Alps will never sound the same to me again.
posted by Berkun at 4:05 PM on April 13, 2010


Not many Mormons getting over to Edinburgh then?

There are Mormons in Edinburgh, I used to live round the corner from them and their toothy eternal smiles. It's possible none of the locals have talked to them for long enough to pick up any colloquial slang.
posted by robertc at 4:19 PM on April 13, 2010


I am the only person in my family who cusses, and I cuss...a lot. Like, embarrassing mr epersonae a lot. I'm not entirely sure when or why it started, only that if I'm not thinking about it I swear like a goddamn motherfucking sailor.

But strange: I rarely curse online, at least not using the actual words. (I felt weird typing that last paragraph, for example.) Am more likely to go for the comic-book methodology: @)&%# etc. Hilarity occasionally ensues if my random typing cussing includes "@" or "#" on twitter. :)

And yes, code works better if you swear at it. (For which I have been gently reprimanded at more than one job, since I generally don't work around other coders.)
posted by epersonae at 4:56 PM on April 13, 2010


Artw: (Modern future swears such as "Frak" are just rubbish though, IMHO).

I have this really visceral reaction to people who use 'gorram' or 'frak'. I want to hit them. I want to let fly with real swear words. I absolutely lose any respect for their writing and their thoughts. The other anachronism thinks it's unfair but god fucking dammit, have some respect for your roots people!

Mind you I did once yell 'sweet baby jesus FUCK' after burning myself. It's a proud familial tradition - my mother is regularly heard yelling or hissing 'you hot spitting bitch' at her frypans.

I swear much less online though - it honestly doesn't have the same feel although I do like the sheer thudding inappropriateness of it sometimes.
posted by geek anachronism at 6:19 PM on April 13, 2010


Artw Actually the guy who owns the company I work for used to be the guy in charge of Mormon missionaries in Scotland. But, as robertc mentions, I doubt he was much of a pub outing guy to get that much exposure.
posted by msbutah at 7:05 PM on April 13, 2010


Shoelaces. Cheese and rice. Frack. Bullspit. Heck. Gash. Scrud.

Ok, most of these I get, but Gash? Scrud? WTF is up with those?
posted by madajb at 7:57 PM on April 13, 2010


I have a wretched potty mouth. My husband is not much better. I had to stop dropping f-bombs when my then 2-year-old daughter started mimicking me in the car. She did at least quickly catch on that there were different rules for how we talk in different places, and was never inappropriate at school or anywhere else. Now she's 6, and does the usual testing with ass or shit or the like.

Now my 3-year-old just walks around muttering "gotdammit, gotdammit." It is hilarious - I can't bring myself to make him stop.

I'm sure there's some sort of parental failure involved in all of this, but we haven't found it yet.
posted by Lulu's Pink Converse at 11:11 PM on April 13, 2010


We have had the 'context is everything' talk with the girls, starting early & often because we're a swearing family... I've made other swearing people blush with the occasional treat that leaves my mouth. I will say that metafilter has the best, most creative swearing I've seen outside of one friend of mine who is unfuckingbelievably good at it. She still owes me a keyboard for 'cum guzzling cock holster.'
posted by susanbeeswax at 11:43 PM on April 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Aw this is when Utah gets to shine with our Mormon swear words. Shoelaces. Cheese and rice. Frack. Bullspit. Heck. Gash. Scrud. Oh look there's even a Facebook Group.

Fetch. Flip and flippin'. Those are the foundational Mormon fake swears. I've never heard anything on your list other than Scrud. I am personally fond of "Hellllllsinki."
posted by mecran01 at 9:14 AM on April 14, 2010


TinyFilter for Chrome leaves this thread looking like swiss cheese.
posted by mecran01 at 9:14 AM on April 14, 2010


Profanity is why this form is so much fun to fill out. (Original PDF document from joshua-club.com)
posted by mondaygreens at 1:57 PM on April 14, 2010


[Warning: Cute klangklangston story ahead] Set the Wayback Machine for 1981/1982. 2 year old klang loved nothing better than to put on headphones and bop along with rock--Talking Heads 77, Ian Dury, etc. I made a mix tape of my favorite local band's tunes. The Motor City Mutants were an outstanding band with a ton of catchy hooks. I never gave it a second thought until klang was jumping, gyrating and singing along with the chorus "fuck fuck fuck it up, fuck fuck fuck it up, fuck fuck fuck it up, GOOD!" Oooooooh, he was soooooo cute, but I had to remix that tape & if there are other Mutants fans out there--I took "We're not Homos" off the tape, too.
posted by beelzbubba at 5:48 PM on April 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


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