How to write better (or fewer?) swear words in English

Have you ever wondered why the British seem far more relaxed about using swear words in writing and speech than people from other English-speaking nations?

Many linguists are of the opinion that because swear words are used much more commonly in English-language film and TV programmes, on live radio and TV (hopefully after the watershed), and in general conversation, the words have gradually lost their rudeness and shock-value.

is it wrong to swear in writing

Can some swearing is speech and writing be justified?

Which could be a shame, in a way. If current swear words have lost their mojos, how next can we express ourselves with vigour and shock factor? But that’s probably for another article/thought piece.

It’s true that many millennials use rude language pretty freely wherever they live within the USA, Canada, Australia and other English language areas. But if you are the wrong side of 25 years old, you may well be influenced by older values that vary wildly from country to country.

UPDATE January 27, 2018 … Just published by academic Debbie Cameron on her Debuk blog: here is an extract:

“Asking whether women should swear is a bit like asking whether women should have children out of wedlock, or weigh more than seven stone: it’s a question designed for no other purpose than to allow people to air their prejudices. And those prejudices are, in most cases, socially selective. If a single mother on benefits peppers her discourse with ‘f*ck, tw*t and b*stard’, people say she’s ignorant, unable to express herself in any other way. If a stand-up comedian who went to public (private) school uses the same words in his act, people say it’s edgy and subversive.” Seems that people have serious double standards where swearing is concerned. Read this article – as well as the rest of mine here!

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Want to swear but don’t dare? Here’s how to do it

Want to swear but don't dare? Here's how to do itI’ve just been looking up the origins of the word f*ck  and it seems it goes back at least  to around 1500 AD when it was taken from Germanic and Scandinavian words meaning, well, to f*ck.

Some say its origins go back even further than that. Pretty impressive for one 4-letter word to keep shocking little old ladies for the best part of 10 centuries.

But of course, in polite social company we can’t use the word. In polite writing company, like here, I bashfully insert an asterisk to show my respect to the nay-sayers even though you need to have fewer brain cells than an amoeba to not know what I’m talking about.

What do we really mean by “swear words?”

These words fall into two categories, as far as I can see it.

Category one, is blasphemous words which are based on religion, and to me these are no-nos not because they are particularly offensive, necessarily, but because they may offend people who have stronger, or different, religious views from your own. I suppose it’s OK to talk about something being a “damned” nuisance, but when it begins to involve God, Allah, Jesus and others that’s a whole different ballgame.

Category two, is just plain words which have come to mean very rude things like f*ck and c*nt as well as references to various other bodily parts and activities. And this is where we do have some room for manoeuvre.

So: how can we gain similar momentum from other words and body parts?

For example, what’s the difference between an *sshole and a nostril, in terms of basic realities? Both discharge rather unpleasant bodily fluids. But how often have you heard an insult that goes, “what a nasty little nostril you are.”

Let’s get more specific here. Normal nostril discharge not enough? Try, “stuff that up your bloated sinuses.” Also, “you’re as much use as a bunged-up nostril with nothing to blow into.”

A good start. Now let’s now look at some more  terms

Baldock. The name of a delightful town in Hertfordshire, England, which unfortunately sounds like the description of an old horse’s anus. As in “you ridiculous old baldock.”

Bar Steward. This one has been around for generations but covers up for people too shy too shy to talk about b*stards. It gets the point over, though.

Bleedin’. Adjective often used by London (England) Cockneys, notably dropping the end “g,” to emulate “bloody.” Am I missing something here, or what’s the difference?

Castration et al. This tops “ball breaker” because it’s a about removal, not mere vandalism. Hence – “you’re a real castrating little snit (see below), aren’t you?”

Crapulent. According to Dictionary.com it means sick from gross excess in eating and drinking. Hence – “you make me feel utterly crapulent.”

Crunt. As in “you putrid, awful, miserable crunt…” hinting at the original word but, even having wrapped it up in appropriate adjectives and thrown in a extra letter, no-one is going to misunderstand what you mean.

Darn, darned, darn it. Oh, please. Is anyone going to hang you by the trollocks** if you’re too feeble even to use a sewing term as a swear word? ZZZzzzzzz.

Doo–doo. Am not sure whether modest understatement is a fashion now or if it has been that way for a while, but talking about being “in deep doo-doo” leaves no-one in any doubt that you actually mean sh*t. It may be cheesy, but it avoids offending Auntie Beryl.

Feck. An Irish term which dilutes, but means, the dreaded f*ck. Cute, and effective at times.

FFS. Internet-speak for For-F*ck’s-Sake, but so abbreviated avoids the use of the F-word and doesn’t fool anyone.

Flaming. Uncomplimentary adjective popular in Australia and New Zealand, so I’m told, no doubt due to the Antipodeans’ fondness for overcooking meat on barbecues.

Fricking. Alternatively term for you-know-what. Sounds like an elaborate hand-sewing technique with about as much swear-power.

Micturate. Now here’s a new one for you all … it’s fancy medical speak for the verb to p*ss. Hence, “micturate off” and “I really was micturated.”

Nitwit. Noun referring to the nit, the larva of a head louse. On the understanding that nits are pretty small, so are their brains, hence the word.

OMG, as in Oh My Gosh. OK, I know it’s wrong to involve God in our written rants, but who the f*ck is Gosh?

Poo, poop, etc. Kiddie-talk for sh*t. Come on, now! Get over it.

Ruddy, for bloody. Very 19th and 20th century Britain, but who do you think you’re fooling?

Shite. Oh, how I love this one! No need to explain its derivation but somehow this has a more commanding feel to it than its original version.

Snit. See Castration above. Much as the word is ostensibly meaningless, would you like to be called a “nasty little snit?” Neither would I. Especially if castration were to be involved.

Trollocks. ** A compound term meaning that your perception of a situation is even more disdainful than were you to call it b*ll*cks. “What a load of trollocks – that’s like b*ll*cks, only there’s three of them.”

Twit. Noun, popular in the UK for some years now, suggesting someone whose brain power is a couple of chicken nuggets short of a Happy Meal. And it suggests tw*t without saying it.

That’s just a few for starters. What are your favorite non-swear words? Please share them with us in the comments below…

Swear off bad writing and get yours right here:

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