Swearing: XXXX it, I’ve cleaned up my XXXXing language

OK, not everyone swears. But if you do let rip with the occasional 4-letter word, have you ever tried stopping yourself to use a “proper” word instead?

Swearing: why I've cleaned up my language

The (real) town of Shitterton, Dorset, England

As I write this I am in Canada and have been staying with my wonderful aunt who never swears, and has always frowned on us juniors using rude words in her company. So I resolved to clean up my potty-mouth while with her and use only the cleanest of expletives.

Funnily enough I also wrote about swearing when I was here 2 years ago, relating to the late Rob Ford who was mayor of Toronto and known for his rude language, poor guy.

Well, XXXXXX me, I’m swearing-free!

Far from leaving me feel frustrated and bitchy when I stubbed my toe and came out with a mere “arrrggghh!” … I actually found it quite cleansing.

“Arrrrggghh” is quite a good release of pent-up pain, especially if you shriek it loudly enough. And having broken a window 50 metres away with the noise, you still feel righteous and upright (well, hobbling) because you have not offended anyone other than the owner of the window.

Now: how about politics?

As I write this we are nearing the 2016 USA elections and needless to say in Canada most people say “Trump” or “Hillary” every other word, frequently accompanied by a very rude adjective.

Much as it is tempting to use similar adjectives and nouns when discussing my own views on the US election I have managed to restrain myself. And I’m proud that I have managed it so far without leaving anyone in doubt about the vehemence of my feelings.

The ultimate swearing test: driving in heavy traffic

This is where I was sure to waver in my resolve. It doesn’t matter where I am in the world: I always find other car drivers to be even more awful than I am and let them know it in no uncertain terms.

Ditto for truck drivers, motorcyclists, bicyclists, horse riders and even pedestrians who don’t follow the rules of the road. My rules, of course.

So biting my tongue with my dear aunt in the car was the biggest challenge of all. But I stuck to my guns.

The word “idiot” spat out in a good few decibels works just as effectively. Well, almost.

How to express anger/shock/political opposition/etc without swearing

Insulting people without swearing was an art form in days gone by, as I curated in this article here. In modern times this approach can seem a bit long-winded, although to describe an idiot by saying “his mother should have thrown him away and kept the stork” (Mae West) to me is about as subtle as an air raid and very funny.

So how do we replace our beloved swear words?

For the benefit of people who just can’t get enough venom into words like “idiot” and “silly moo” to quench their anger, here are 10 words that sound (to me) like swear words while being actually quite innocent. What’s more, they are not those nauseating euphemisms for swear words such as “fricking,” “flaming,” “darn it,” “gall darn it,” “heck” and other such clichés.


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Can you add to the list?

  1. Trollocks
  2. Fluck it
  3. Crunt
  4. Grunt
  5. Scritty
  6. Pess
  7. Feck (widely used in Ireland)
  8. Sinkhole
  9. Baldock (real town in Bedfordshire, England)
  10. Cesspit

And here’s the XXXXing sting in the tail

The evening before I departed from my aunt’s house to go play Hiawatha in the Canadian countryside for a few days, said aunt dropped and shattered a plate.

I, too, was shattered when she yelled out, “SHIT!”

Must be a sign of the times…

What do you think?

Questions? Drop Suze a note on suze@suzanstmaur.com