August 28, 2001
10:00 PM   Subscribe

Remember George Carlin's 7 words you can never say on tv? Well, make that three, because four of TV's seven dirty words have now become part of the television lexicon. What's your favorite word?
posted by Rastafari (51 comments total)
my fav word?

posted by sawks at 10:11 PM on August 28, 2001

mine is " 'ere".

let me know if you don't get it.
posted by jcterminal at 10:15 PM on August 28, 2001

mine is " 'ere".

Ok, I don't get it.
posted by Rastafari at 10:21 PM on August 28, 2001


I don't get that word either.
posted by Rastafari at 10:22 PM on August 28, 2001

"concomitant" is pretty cool, as is "enmity," but in the spirit of George's 7 and on the basis of sheer utilitarianism, I would definitely go with "fuck."

Rastafari, you of ALL PEOPLE don't get "'ere" ? You trying to bust my irony meter?

Try this; put your index finger and thumb together, hold your hand out in front of you, take in a breath, hold that breath, and THEN say it. It's pronounced "ear."
posted by UncleFes at 10:30 PM on August 28, 2001

OK, I feel stupid. But you can understand why it takes me a couple of sec to get it, right......'ere.........
posted by Rastafari at 10:34 PM on August 28, 2001

Make that "none" in the UK. (You can get away with saying "cunt" on TV after about 10pm, and have been able to since about 1990.)

I'd be interested to know what goes in other, non-English-speaking countries...

("pigfuckery" is currently my choice word of choice.)
posted by holgate at 10:39 PM on August 28, 2001

My favorite word is "mambodemon." I don't know what it means, it just came out of my friend's mouth while he was frustrated.
posted by kevspace at 11:04 PM on August 28, 2001

i, uh, still don't get ere. i must be completely naive.
posted by dai at 11:21 PM on August 28, 2001

it's funny that the story is all about the word "tits" being spoken on tv, but they won't put it on the internet. don't they know the internet is only used by computer geeks and teenage kids looking for somthing a lot more graphic than tits?

And I don't get 'ere either.
posted by Foaf at 12:07 AM on August 29, 2001

Theiform. As in.. erm.. my name.
It means "having the form of tea" according to Webster, which I find to be incredibly useful in all sorts of situations, such as "That drink was theiform", or "The shapeshifter was originally humanoid, but then it was Theiform."

Oh, and hello. This is my first post.
Pleased to meet you.
posted by Theiform at 12:14 AM on August 29, 2001


Also, cunt. It's the one dirty word left, really, that still properly functions as a dirty word.
posted by dong_resin at 12:21 AM on August 29, 2001

Notice that in South Park the movie, the one word which even they avoided was "cunt"? For some reason "bollocks" has become almost acceptable, whereas "cunt" still seems a bit close to the pale. Why are men's genetalia OK but women's aren't?

I find the prudishness of the US major networks amusing. It's like the BBC was 30 or so years ago. Is there such a concept in the USA of a watershed? On terrestrial tv in Britain, the watershed is 9pm. Any programme starting after this time is considered to be for an adult audience, and thus may contain stronger language, nudity or violence. It seems a sensible way to me to protect the sensibilities of children without harming the ability of adults to enjoy mature programmes[1].

Oh yes, my favourite word is, "felch".

[1] Plus a few decidedly non-mature programmes... ;-)
posted by salmacis at 12:39 AM on August 29, 2001

for you seinfeld fans out there...

anyone catch the name of one of the interviews for the article? i wonder if that lloyd braun also spent time in a mental institution...
posted by gelatinouscitizen at 12:41 AM on August 29, 2001

salmacis: Until the (Republican-led) deregulation of the FCC in the 1980s, there was a "family hour" which was the first hour of prime time, either 7-8 or 6-7 depending on time zone. This hour was reserved for (scare quote) "family friendly" shows, and the networks carefully scheduled inoffensive material there. There were slightly different regs for radio, but both were predicatd on the idea that kids are sent to bed eventually and after that it's time for the adults to par-tee. After deregulation this distinction began to break down, and eventually under attack from several fronts (most notably the shock jock radio DJ trend) the FCC decency regulations broke down. Under Clinton they were rarely enforced. You'll still see some hand-wringing if an adult-themed show is scheduled on a network during the family hour, but mostly today the pressure on the networks is more whether their show will get an audience at that hour.
posted by dhartung at 12:49 AM on August 29, 2001

Just for the record, my scorecard looks like this:


I've read the article five or six times, and I can't find the fourth word. (Pho is not fuck, it's just good soup).

I probably use at least three of these words regularly.

The added words mentioned in the article are:

Thanks to the transcript of Filthy Words by George Carlin from CC v. Pacifica Foundation.
posted by joemaller at 12:59 AM on August 29, 2001


it's such a fun word to say. That, and rutabaga.

I once knew a woman who would laugh if you said the names of funny-sounding fruits and vegetables. Giggle for rutabaga, would lose it for kumquat.

and, FWIW, I don't get "'ere" either.
posted by meep at 2:11 AM on August 29, 2001 [1 favorite]

the absurdity of these words not being commonly acceptable is hurting my head.

they're all simple facts of life: we're all (hopefully) born out of our mother's cunt, then spend some time suckling on her tits, only to later on in life moving on to fucking regularly.

some of us will become cocksuckers, some motherfuckers, and some of us anally retentive prudes.

oh, and we all piss and shit every fucking day.
posted by titboy at 2:27 AM on August 29, 2001

There are lots of words we're not allowed to say in Wales, at least not in the same sentence. These include "English", "incomers", "destroying", and "language".


"Republic" is a beautiful word. Roddy Doyle
posted by ceiriog at 3:25 AM on August 29, 2001

Borborygmous. Cocksmoker.
posted by Mocata at 5:09 AM on August 29, 2001

Show me your tits? Wow, in my area of the country a woman breast feeding (tit sucking) is in violation of the law...If such things took place in court, I would be glad to do jury duty.
posted by Postroad at 5:12 AM on August 29, 2001

my favorite word is "zootychootybugooty"
posted by mcsweetie at 5:42 AM on August 29, 2001

Just to clarify: Those were Carlin's seven words you couldn't say on radio, not the FCC's. The FCC never said those were the only seven, or the most important seven, etc. In fact, the FCC has long allowed those words to be said on the air, given certain circumstances such as broadcast time and artistic merit and community response.

When I worked in radio, we'd have bands in for interviews at all hours of the day, and the language would just flow without care or guard. We only ever had a single complaint, from a man who was clearly lying: he was a preacher, driving in his car, with his young son, and heard nasty language. Problem was, we weren't broadcasting at the time.
posted by Mo Nickels at 6:53 AM on August 29, 2001

"On terrestrial tv in Britain, the watershed is 9pm. Any programme starting after this time is considered to be for an adult audience"

One thing to consider here; we have four time zones. Also, these damn kids today stay up late and run around unsupervised - usually on my lawn! You kids get out of here!

I like "Boobies"... the word and the real thing.
posted by hotdoughnutsnow at 6:53 AM on August 29, 2001

I laffed my ass off reading this article. For decades, TV has been required to protray the manner in which we speak to each other in a way that no one really does. OK there are a few who don't swear, but even they say fudge instead of fuck, and whats the dofference, really. So my assertion stands.
A few months back, the GE head honcho of NBC published an article, written in exasperated and frustrated tones, that he couldn't compete with impliedly superior programming at HBO essentially cuz he was bound by rules of decency while HBO wasn't.
This then, would be the sound of that proverbial other shoe dropping.
And 'ere's my ob.fave.word: Pustule
posted by BentPenguin at 7:19 AM on August 29, 2001

To spell it out for everyone, 'ere sounds like ire, which is Jamaicin slang for marijuana.
posted by skwm at 7:33 AM on August 29, 2001

Syzygy is a fantastic word to pronounce, but as the years go by, more and more I think xebec is my favorite. My recent list of new favorites includes sackbut, arctoid, corvee, flaneur (from the French), and shlaki (Russian for 'junk').

Mrs. Bryne's Dictionary is the one with the best words, like opisthenar (the back of the hand), macrotous (having large ears), and gaberlunzie (a wandering or licensed beggar). Not to mention cromnymancy (fortunetelling with onions), ghoom (to hunt in the dark) and clinomania (the obsessive desire to stay in bed).

Yep, I'd like to be a flaneur with clinomania.
posted by LeLiLo at 8:21 AM on August 29, 2001

There's the art of proofreading. I double- and triple-checked all the fancy words, and spelled Mrs. Byrne's name wrong.
posted by LeLiLo at 8:25 AM on August 29, 2001

The timeline on the right is especially interesting.
posted by Witold at 9:03 AM on August 29, 2001

I am particularly fond of "erstwhile". And "mammajamma".

As in "My erstwhile colleague, Senator Hatch, is one mixed-up mammajamma."

A sentence I hope to hear on C-Span one day.

Hope springs eternal

posted by Kafkaesque at 9:13 AM on August 29, 2001

I can't believe, this far down the thread and after previous attempts, that 'ere still needs explanation for some. Well, I'll try to add to UncleFes's comment. It's what you say when passing a marijuana joint, as in here, except when you're holding your breath it comes out 'ere.

Hey, Fes, quit bogarting the spliff and pass it on down 'ere!
posted by msacheson at 9:15 AM on August 29, 2001

The first thing I did as a DJ at my college radio station was say all the words you can't say on the radio on the radio. Too bad our broadcasting range only extended to the closer parking lots and no one was listening.

And lately I'm partial to shitbird.
posted by kirkaracha at 9:45 AM on August 29, 2001

my favorite word is blee-ach.

as in, what does snoop dogg wash his clothes in?

i think i've told this joke on MeFi before.
*hangs head*
posted by sugarfish at 9:45 AM on August 29, 2001

holgate said: Make that "none" in the UK. (You can get away with saying "cunt" on TV after about 10pm, and have been able to since about 1990.)

It is quite funny how a country with a decent constitution and rights of free speech for all (unlike the UK) doesn't allow some swear words on TV, whereas it's a free-for-all even on the publicly funded BBC.
posted by wackybrit at 9:59 AM on August 29, 2001

I like "litotes" and "velleity".
posted by nicwolff at 10:20 AM on August 29, 2001

"Quinny" is a highly underutilized euphemism for the female genitalia, and it just sounds so fun....
posted by briank at 10:24 AM on August 29, 2001 wonder I didn't get the "'ere" thing. In my experience, joints are passed on wordlessly. But that's hard to express as a favourite word...

Wackybrit: what makes it even funnier is that hardcore pornography is allowed in the USA under the constitution, yet the UK has one of the most restrictive pornography laws in the Western world.

I guess Europeans are laughing at the prudishness of both the USA and the UK. In France, naked women are routinely used to advertise anything.
posted by salmacis at 10:27 AM on August 29, 2001

"Wankel Rotary Engine"

And as long as we're talking about George Carlin's seven dirty words monologue, may I recommend the Oyez Project's page on FCC v. Pacifica, complete with RealAudio of both the monologue and the oral arguments before the Supreme Court.
posted by moss at 10:43 AM on August 29, 2001

D'oh! I should have checked my links--direct links to realaudio from outside the site won't work, so the last two links in that comment are no good. (The first two still work fine, and will take you to the others.)
posted by moss at 10:50 AM on August 29, 2001

The timeline on the right is especially interesting.

Yes, but too bad it is factually incorrect. It claims that Mark Harmon said 'shit' for the first time on primetime TV in 1999. Then it makes a big deal about the same word aired during a production of On Golden Pond the next year.

The 'first shit' recognition probably goes to the original airing of the On Golden Pond movie back in 1983 or 1984. A handful, though not all, of the 'shits' where left in the dialogue between Billy and Norman. (Why do I still remember this???)

On another note, I think the Sopranos gets too much attention for its language, nudity and unflinching violence. The networks say they can't compete with it, but a show this well written would still be very effective without those extreme elements. What WOULD kill this show if it aired on network TV would be what makes it so interesting -- its moral ambiguity.

The network suits wouldn't know what to do with characters who can be charming, compelling and sometimes likable while also being cold-hearted criminals. They require clear good guys and bad guys.

Tony Soprano, for instance, would probably not be portrayed as a womanizer or a killer, and his other flaws would be glossed over as well in an obsessive attempt to keep him 'likable.' THAT would make the show suck -- not a lack of tit shots at the Bada Bing.
posted by Dirjy at 11:08 AM on August 29, 2001

Sugarfish: Me laugh at your funny, funny joke.

As for the 'ere thing, I've never passed around a joint, although I have passed out at several joints. When I think of the word 'ere, it's usually accompanied by the word 'guvnah', and it makes me think of a jaunty little cockney offering to shine my shoes for a farthing.

And my favorite silly word is callipygous, meaning 'having beautifully proportioned buttocks." I also like beautifully proportioned buttocks.
posted by Hildago at 12:15 PM on August 29, 2001

"Skull" isn't my favorite word, but it looks the best in writing.
posted by Laugh_track at 1:28 PM on August 29, 2001

posted by rorycberger at 3:37 PM on August 29, 2001

I'm partial to cattywumpus and flummery.

As for words you can't say on network TV, I think it's silly to say that the reason Carlin's words are now so widely used on TV is a sign that the bar is so low. It's really just a sign that these once outragously offensive words have slowly entered the common vernacular and have become acceptable. And besides, for every word that now becaomes acceptable to say on TV, you get another previously ubiquous word that is now off-limits. (Not sayin' that good or bad, just observing.)
posted by Shadowkeeper at 4:04 PM on August 29, 2001

Favorite non-pejorative words: "hornswoggle" and "defenestrate".

Favorite pejorative words: "gobshite" and "fucknuckle"
posted by chuq at 4:51 PM on August 29, 2001

I guess I don't really care if they say tits on television, I'd much rather see tits on television. But that's just me being a sexist jerk.
Mollycoddle is a good word, and there's a place in Maine called Meddybemps.

I had a Latin teacher who hated the words chunks and pus.
posted by briank at 6:10 PM on August 29, 2001

At the risk of seeming like the grammar police, I feel compelled to clarify the word 'ere'.

'Ere', pronounced like 'air' is actually Gaelic, and means 'before', as in the anagram 'Able was I ere I saw Elba'. favorite word is actually a string of obscenities, reserved for when it's snowing hard.

posted by soynuts at 6:46 PM on August 29, 2001

fuckwit is nice
posted by Kafkaesque at 10:19 AM on August 30, 2001

re above: You mean "palindrome" not "anagram."

ya feckin' eejit.
posted by woodge at 10:25 AM on August 30, 2001


I stand corrected! :)
posted by soynuts at 3:46 PM on August 30, 2001

I like "shucks." And "gee whiz."
posted by kant breathe at 8:23 PM on August 31, 2001

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