Mind your language – A (very) short history of swearing!

Nicola wenchmark Nicola here. Those readers who do not like profanity may wish to look away now, as this blog post carries an 18 certificate! Today I am writing a little about the history of swearing. I’m sure you can imagine the difficulty I had in trying to work out how to illustrate this blog with pictures.

Swearing, profanity and vulgar slang is a complicated subject. It’s one of those topics that can divide the British and the Americans, with certain words meaning quite different things depending on which side of the Atlantic you are on. Mention a fanny pack to a Brit or an Australian, for example, and you will get a blank look at best and possibly a far more extreme reaction. As the online dictionary says when defining the word fanny: “Serious misunderstandings may arise…”

 Taking the name of the lord in vain

 If we go back to the Tudor and Stuart periods we find that swearing was mainly a religious issue. Just as taking an oath was to call upon God to guarantee the truth of a statement (so help me God), profane swearing took God’s name in vain. Then as now, some individuals tried to shock by transgressing against the accepted standards of the age. It was also a way to show one’s worldliness and social standing – showing off, in fact. The dissolute libertines of the Restoration court were very free with their profanities, using oaths such as “damn me”, “God’s wounds” or “By Our Lady” in an attempt to get a horrified reaction from the more god-fearing members of society.

Swearing was equally as common amongst the lower social classes and wherever The libertine men in particular were gathered, for example in the army or at labour. At male-dominated social events it was likely that “several volleys of execrable oaths,” to quote one disapproving gentleman, would resound from all sides. Moralists saw the rise of religious swearing as a sign of the decline in society. Protestants were keen to stamp out the Catholic oaths. Between 1603 and 1820 in England, laws were passed criminalising swearing with the punishment being a fine or some time in the stocks. Slowly, however, attitudes changed towards the religious profane oath so that words such as damn and even bloody, deriving of course from “by our lady”, came to be seen as less offensive than some other forms of swearing. Today in England damn is generally considered a very mild swear word indeed.

Meanwhile back in the Tudor and Stuart period, we have Shakespeare, master of the oath. He tended to make up his own insults rather than draw on the religious profane. Some examples from his plays: "Thou beslubbering, swag-bellied maggot pie." "Thou mewling, sheep-biting hugger mugger." "Thou yeasty, reeling, ripe bum-bailey." A bum-bailey was actually a bailiff or sheriff’s deputy in Shakespeare’s time but some scholars suggest he was giving the phrase other, more sexual, connotations as well.

Vile Bodies and their functions

Which brings us to swearing that is sexual or scatological in nature, and to the Anglo Saxons, who frequently get the blame for words which later came to be used in swearing. In fact many of these taboo words came into the English language from other sources. The origin of the f-word, for example, is disputed with some scholars suggesting that it derives from the old German ficken, to strike or penetrate, which in turn was related to the Latin for to prick. The verb futuere in Latin had the slang meaning of to copulate. A record of 1278 refers to a man named John LeFucker – one hopes this was not an instance of someone being named after their occupation – and the f word was in common usage in England by the 16th century. However it was not used in the vulgar sense until the 18th century.

Sard Swear words can fall from popularity as well as attain it. Back in the Middle Ages the word “sard” meant the same as the f-word but these days you never hear anyone muttering “sarding hell” when something goes wrong. Some words change usage or fade altogether. Today sard is a gemstone (pictured)!

The c-word is the last taboo in British English and again is derived from various Magpie Lane words in Old Norse, High German and Latin. The word appears to have entered the English language in the 13th century and both Oxford and London had districts called “Gropecunte Lane” in explicit recognition of the prostitutes who plied their trade there. The Oxford name was later changed to Magpie Lane, (in the picture of the right) and the London one to Threadneedle Street. It is now the home of the Bank of England…

Old berkshire hunt Interestingly the English insult “berk” also derives from the c-word, being Cockney rhyming slang for the “Old Berkshire Hunt.” This word was very popular in the 1970s and 80s but again has almost fallen out of usage now and I suspect many people who used it would have been appalled to have discovered its derivation.

The word sh1t is a true Anglo Saxon word. It appears in literature in the Prologue to the Canterbury Tales by Chaucer, but at this stage of its usage it was simply a word not a swear word. By the 18th century it was used in the vulgar sense, notably in Jonathan Swift’s The Lady’s Dressing Room, which contains the immortal lines:

“Thus finishing his grand survey,
Disgusted Strephon stole away
Repeating in his amorous fits,
Oh! Celia, Celia, Celia…” (I’ll leave you to complete the rhyme!)

Finally I have to say a few words about the word “pish” as they call it in Scotland since it has such an Mannekin Pis interesting history. It’s origins are pissare (Latin) and pisser (French) and it has long been used as a vulgar word. In the 17th century a man who was considered full of himself would be called “p*ss-proud.” The new canting dictionary of 1725 sums it up in a derivation of ostentatious and vainglorious:

“One that boasts without reason or pisses more than he drinks.”

The illustration is the famous Belgian statue the Mannekin Pis in Brussels.

I could go on – there are many more swear words with interesting historical derivations and usage. But I’ll end with the news that the BBC is introducing swear words into its latest adaptation of Wuthering Heights, in order to give the book “a more contemporary feel.” This prompted one national UK newspaper to speculate on what it would be like if swearing was introduced into other classics such as Dickens Tale of Two Cities: “It was the best of times, it was the time when everything was totally, like, cr*p.”

Where do you stand on swearing in books? Do you think that the judicious use of profanity reflects society and can add something to the language or do you think we can do without it altogether? Would you like to invent your own profanities, like Shakespeare? Is there too much swearing around these days or is it all part of a rich cultural heritage?

165 thoughts on “Mind your language – A (very) short history of swearing!”

  1. Hi Nicola,
    Thank you for the fun and informative blog! In historicals, I’m not a big fan of swearing to swear. Inserting an occasional “dammit” or something a bit more shocking as an exclamation is fine, especially for the men. I daresay they haven’t changed that much over the years. 🙂
    Tracey

    Reply
  2. Hi Nicola,
    Thank you for the fun and informative blog! In historicals, I’m not a big fan of swearing to swear. Inserting an occasional “dammit” or something a bit more shocking as an exclamation is fine, especially for the men. I daresay they haven’t changed that much over the years. 🙂
    Tracey

    Reply
  3. Hi Nicola,
    Thank you for the fun and informative blog! In historicals, I’m not a big fan of swearing to swear. Inserting an occasional “dammit” or something a bit more shocking as an exclamation is fine, especially for the men. I daresay they haven’t changed that much over the years. 🙂
    Tracey

    Reply
  4. Hi Nicola,
    Thank you for the fun and informative blog! In historicals, I’m not a big fan of swearing to swear. Inserting an occasional “dammit” or something a bit more shocking as an exclamation is fine, especially for the men. I daresay they haven’t changed that much over the years. 🙂
    Tracey

    Reply
  5. Hi Nicola,
    Thank you for the fun and informative blog! In historicals, I’m not a big fan of swearing to swear. Inserting an occasional “dammit” or something a bit more shocking as an exclamation is fine, especially for the men. I daresay they haven’t changed that much over the years. 🙂
    Tracey

    Reply
  6. Hi Nicola, great blog, as usual! Congratulations on your RITA nomination! So pleased for you.
    Swearing is a tough one–I think if bad language is used too much it loses any impact and it can become irritating. There might be one instance in an entire book where I feel something a little stronger is called for than ‘damn’ because I’m trying to convey an extreme reaction to the modern reader. It’s a fine line, though. I put a lot of thought into it if I do use a strong swear word.
    I’ll never forget sitting in an open air cafe with a couple of writer friends debating the etymology of the f-word as an expletive rather than in its literal meaning. We were given some strange looks by the other patrons!

    Reply
  7. Hi Nicola, great blog, as usual! Congratulations on your RITA nomination! So pleased for you.
    Swearing is a tough one–I think if bad language is used too much it loses any impact and it can become irritating. There might be one instance in an entire book where I feel something a little stronger is called for than ‘damn’ because I’m trying to convey an extreme reaction to the modern reader. It’s a fine line, though. I put a lot of thought into it if I do use a strong swear word.
    I’ll never forget sitting in an open air cafe with a couple of writer friends debating the etymology of the f-word as an expletive rather than in its literal meaning. We were given some strange looks by the other patrons!

    Reply
  8. Hi Nicola, great blog, as usual! Congratulations on your RITA nomination! So pleased for you.
    Swearing is a tough one–I think if bad language is used too much it loses any impact and it can become irritating. There might be one instance in an entire book where I feel something a little stronger is called for than ‘damn’ because I’m trying to convey an extreme reaction to the modern reader. It’s a fine line, though. I put a lot of thought into it if I do use a strong swear word.
    I’ll never forget sitting in an open air cafe with a couple of writer friends debating the etymology of the f-word as an expletive rather than in its literal meaning. We were given some strange looks by the other patrons!

    Reply
  9. Hi Nicola, great blog, as usual! Congratulations on your RITA nomination! So pleased for you.
    Swearing is a tough one–I think if bad language is used too much it loses any impact and it can become irritating. There might be one instance in an entire book where I feel something a little stronger is called for than ‘damn’ because I’m trying to convey an extreme reaction to the modern reader. It’s a fine line, though. I put a lot of thought into it if I do use a strong swear word.
    I’ll never forget sitting in an open air cafe with a couple of writer friends debating the etymology of the f-word as an expletive rather than in its literal meaning. We were given some strange looks by the other patrons!

    Reply
  10. Hi Nicola, great blog, as usual! Congratulations on your RITA nomination! So pleased for you.
    Swearing is a tough one–I think if bad language is used too much it loses any impact and it can become irritating. There might be one instance in an entire book where I feel something a little stronger is called for than ‘damn’ because I’m trying to convey an extreme reaction to the modern reader. It’s a fine line, though. I put a lot of thought into it if I do use a strong swear word.
    I’ll never forget sitting in an open air cafe with a couple of writer friends debating the etymology of the f-word as an expletive rather than in its literal meaning. We were given some strange looks by the other patrons!

    Reply
  11. I’m awake on Monday morning now, LOL. I remember a debate about the use of the word “bloody”–how it was so casually used as an adjective for anything when it never would have been.I don’t mind a few blunt words in books, even the worst (both the male & female c-words)–it’s in real life where I object. But sometimes a choice one-syllable words is perfect to convey frustration and emotion, and I confess to using them judiciously.:)

    Reply
  12. I’m awake on Monday morning now, LOL. I remember a debate about the use of the word “bloody”–how it was so casually used as an adjective for anything when it never would have been.I don’t mind a few blunt words in books, even the worst (both the male & female c-words)–it’s in real life where I object. But sometimes a choice one-syllable words is perfect to convey frustration and emotion, and I confess to using them judiciously.:)

    Reply
  13. I’m awake on Monday morning now, LOL. I remember a debate about the use of the word “bloody”–how it was so casually used as an adjective for anything when it never would have been.I don’t mind a few blunt words in books, even the worst (both the male & female c-words)–it’s in real life where I object. But sometimes a choice one-syllable words is perfect to convey frustration and emotion, and I confess to using them judiciously.:)

    Reply
  14. I’m awake on Monday morning now, LOL. I remember a debate about the use of the word “bloody”–how it was so casually used as an adjective for anything when it never would have been.I don’t mind a few blunt words in books, even the worst (both the male & female c-words)–it’s in real life where I object. But sometimes a choice one-syllable words is perfect to convey frustration and emotion, and I confess to using them judiciously.:)

    Reply
  15. I’m awake on Monday morning now, LOL. I remember a debate about the use of the word “bloody”–how it was so casually used as an adjective for anything when it never would have been.I don’t mind a few blunt words in books, even the worst (both the male & female c-words)–it’s in real life where I object. But sometimes a choice one-syllable words is perfect to convey frustration and emotion, and I confess to using them judiciously.:)

    Reply
  16. Hi Tracey! I’m glad you enjoyed the blog post. Thank you! It was fun to research and write. I’m sure you are right that male swearing probably hasn’t changed that much over the years!

    Reply
  17. Hi Tracey! I’m glad you enjoyed the blog post. Thank you! It was fun to research and write. I’m sure you are right that male swearing probably hasn’t changed that much over the years!

    Reply
  18. Hi Tracey! I’m glad you enjoyed the blog post. Thank you! It was fun to research and write. I’m sure you are right that male swearing probably hasn’t changed that much over the years!

    Reply
  19. Hi Tracey! I’m glad you enjoyed the blog post. Thank you! It was fun to research and write. I’m sure you are right that male swearing probably hasn’t changed that much over the years!

    Reply
  20. Hi Tracey! I’m glad you enjoyed the blog post. Thank you! It was fun to research and write. I’m sure you are right that male swearing probably hasn’t changed that much over the years!

    Reply
  21. Thank you so much for the congratulations, Christina, and I’m glad you like the blog! That’s the danger with overuse of bad language, isn’t it – it simply becomes irritating and loses it’s power to shock. I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall when you were having that debate with your writer friends!

    Reply
  22. Thank you so much for the congratulations, Christina, and I’m glad you like the blog! That’s the danger with overuse of bad language, isn’t it – it simply becomes irritating and loses it’s power to shock. I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall when you were having that debate with your writer friends!

    Reply
  23. Thank you so much for the congratulations, Christina, and I’m glad you like the blog! That’s the danger with overuse of bad language, isn’t it – it simply becomes irritating and loses it’s power to shock. I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall when you were having that debate with your writer friends!

    Reply
  24. Thank you so much for the congratulations, Christina, and I’m glad you like the blog! That’s the danger with overuse of bad language, isn’t it – it simply becomes irritating and loses it’s power to shock. I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall when you were having that debate with your writer friends!

    Reply
  25. Thank you so much for the congratulations, Christina, and I’m glad you like the blog! That’s the danger with overuse of bad language, isn’t it – it simply becomes irritating and loses it’s power to shock. I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall when you were having that debate with your writer friends!

    Reply
  26. Hi Maggie! Interesting about the debate about use of the word “bloody.” Sometimes I read a book and it does seem to pop up in the most inappropriate places and simply sounds wrong. I think you put your finger on the issue of use of bad language. As both you and Christina mentioned, it has to be used very carefully.

    Reply
  27. Hi Maggie! Interesting about the debate about use of the word “bloody.” Sometimes I read a book and it does seem to pop up in the most inappropriate places and simply sounds wrong. I think you put your finger on the issue of use of bad language. As both you and Christina mentioned, it has to be used very carefully.

    Reply
  28. Hi Maggie! Interesting about the debate about use of the word “bloody.” Sometimes I read a book and it does seem to pop up in the most inappropriate places and simply sounds wrong. I think you put your finger on the issue of use of bad language. As both you and Christina mentioned, it has to be used very carefully.

    Reply
  29. Hi Maggie! Interesting about the debate about use of the word “bloody.” Sometimes I read a book and it does seem to pop up in the most inappropriate places and simply sounds wrong. I think you put your finger on the issue of use of bad language. As both you and Christina mentioned, it has to be used very carefully.

    Reply
  30. Hi Maggie! Interesting about the debate about use of the word “bloody.” Sometimes I read a book and it does seem to pop up in the most inappropriate places and simply sounds wrong. I think you put your finger on the issue of use of bad language. As both you and Christina mentioned, it has to be used very carefully.

    Reply
  31. Great blog, Nicola! I’m very much interested in the etymology of these kinds of expressions. In fact, I have a list of them on my website and am always looking to add more.
    As writers, we’re always looking for new ways to say such things. Recently, I ran across a term in one of Eloisa James’ books that sounds like a swear word but isn’t. It’s FUSSOCK. According to the 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue, a fussock is a lazy, fat, frowsy old woman. In James’ case, she transformed it into a verb — “fussocking old woman.” I thought it was marvelous!

    Reply
  32. Great blog, Nicola! I’m very much interested in the etymology of these kinds of expressions. In fact, I have a list of them on my website and am always looking to add more.
    As writers, we’re always looking for new ways to say such things. Recently, I ran across a term in one of Eloisa James’ books that sounds like a swear word but isn’t. It’s FUSSOCK. According to the 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue, a fussock is a lazy, fat, frowsy old woman. In James’ case, she transformed it into a verb — “fussocking old woman.” I thought it was marvelous!

    Reply
  33. Great blog, Nicola! I’m very much interested in the etymology of these kinds of expressions. In fact, I have a list of them on my website and am always looking to add more.
    As writers, we’re always looking for new ways to say such things. Recently, I ran across a term in one of Eloisa James’ books that sounds like a swear word but isn’t. It’s FUSSOCK. According to the 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue, a fussock is a lazy, fat, frowsy old woman. In James’ case, she transformed it into a verb — “fussocking old woman.” I thought it was marvelous!

    Reply
  34. Great blog, Nicola! I’m very much interested in the etymology of these kinds of expressions. In fact, I have a list of them on my website and am always looking to add more.
    As writers, we’re always looking for new ways to say such things. Recently, I ran across a term in one of Eloisa James’ books that sounds like a swear word but isn’t. It’s FUSSOCK. According to the 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue, a fussock is a lazy, fat, frowsy old woman. In James’ case, she transformed it into a verb — “fussocking old woman.” I thought it was marvelous!

    Reply
  35. Great blog, Nicola! I’m very much interested in the etymology of these kinds of expressions. In fact, I have a list of them on my website and am always looking to add more.
    As writers, we’re always looking for new ways to say such things. Recently, I ran across a term in one of Eloisa James’ books that sounds like a swear word but isn’t. It’s FUSSOCK. According to the 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue, a fussock is a lazy, fat, frowsy old woman. In James’ case, she transformed it into a verb — “fussocking old woman.” I thought it was marvelous!

    Reply
  36. Wonderful post, Nicola, so funny too. I think some of the oaths were quite tame, God’s Blood etc. but I imagine they were considered terrible at the time. My family used to say God’s strewth, probably from God’s truth, not sure if that is a bad one or not.
    I don’t like the four letter words in romantic novels, I find it very off-putting and unnecessary. Prefer euphamisms. I used to like Georgette Heyer for amusing sayins, I still use “sluggerbed”
    I have fun in my novels set in the USA with misunderstandings of words!

    Reply
  37. Wonderful post, Nicola, so funny too. I think some of the oaths were quite tame, God’s Blood etc. but I imagine they were considered terrible at the time. My family used to say God’s strewth, probably from God’s truth, not sure if that is a bad one or not.
    I don’t like the four letter words in romantic novels, I find it very off-putting and unnecessary. Prefer euphamisms. I used to like Georgette Heyer for amusing sayins, I still use “sluggerbed”
    I have fun in my novels set in the USA with misunderstandings of words!

    Reply
  38. Wonderful post, Nicola, so funny too. I think some of the oaths were quite tame, God’s Blood etc. but I imagine they were considered terrible at the time. My family used to say God’s strewth, probably from God’s truth, not sure if that is a bad one or not.
    I don’t like the four letter words in romantic novels, I find it very off-putting and unnecessary. Prefer euphamisms. I used to like Georgette Heyer for amusing sayins, I still use “sluggerbed”
    I have fun in my novels set in the USA with misunderstandings of words!

    Reply
  39. Wonderful post, Nicola, so funny too. I think some of the oaths were quite tame, God’s Blood etc. but I imagine they were considered terrible at the time. My family used to say God’s strewth, probably from God’s truth, not sure if that is a bad one or not.
    I don’t like the four letter words in romantic novels, I find it very off-putting and unnecessary. Prefer euphamisms. I used to like Georgette Heyer for amusing sayins, I still use “sluggerbed”
    I have fun in my novels set in the USA with misunderstandings of words!

    Reply
  40. Wonderful post, Nicola, so funny too. I think some of the oaths were quite tame, God’s Blood etc. but I imagine they were considered terrible at the time. My family used to say God’s strewth, probably from God’s truth, not sure if that is a bad one or not.
    I don’t like the four letter words in romantic novels, I find it very off-putting and unnecessary. Prefer euphamisms. I used to like Georgette Heyer for amusing sayins, I still use “sluggerbed”
    I have fun in my novels set in the USA with misunderstandings of words!

    Reply
  41. Thanks, Joanna! I must take a look at the list on your website. One of the things that struck me when I was researching this article was the different opinions on the etymology of these words. You can just imagine academics debating them with very straight faces!
    I love the fussock word!

    Reply
  42. Thanks, Joanna! I must take a look at the list on your website. One of the things that struck me when I was researching this article was the different opinions on the etymology of these words. You can just imagine academics debating them with very straight faces!
    I love the fussock word!

    Reply
  43. Thanks, Joanna! I must take a look at the list on your website. One of the things that struck me when I was researching this article was the different opinions on the etymology of these words. You can just imagine academics debating them with very straight faces!
    I love the fussock word!

    Reply
  44. Thanks, Joanna! I must take a look at the list on your website. One of the things that struck me when I was researching this article was the different opinions on the etymology of these words. You can just imagine academics debating them with very straight faces!
    I love the fussock word!

    Reply
  45. Thanks, Joanna! I must take a look at the list on your website. One of the things that struck me when I was researching this article was the different opinions on the etymology of these words. You can just imagine academics debating them with very straight faces!
    I love the fussock word!

    Reply
  46. Hi Margaret! Yes, my family said “strewth” as well. I find the origins of these things and the ways in which the words change very interesting.
    I haven’t really touched on the US/UK differences much in the blog but when I was reading about it I could see how much trouble one could get into simply because of the different meanings of some of the words!

    Reply
  47. Hi Margaret! Yes, my family said “strewth” as well. I find the origins of these things and the ways in which the words change very interesting.
    I haven’t really touched on the US/UK differences much in the blog but when I was reading about it I could see how much trouble one could get into simply because of the different meanings of some of the words!

    Reply
  48. Hi Margaret! Yes, my family said “strewth” as well. I find the origins of these things and the ways in which the words change very interesting.
    I haven’t really touched on the US/UK differences much in the blog but when I was reading about it I could see how much trouble one could get into simply because of the different meanings of some of the words!

    Reply
  49. Hi Margaret! Yes, my family said “strewth” as well. I find the origins of these things and the ways in which the words change very interesting.
    I haven’t really touched on the US/UK differences much in the blog but when I was reading about it I could see how much trouble one could get into simply because of the different meanings of some of the words!

    Reply
  50. Hi Margaret! Yes, my family said “strewth” as well. I find the origins of these things and the ways in which the words change very interesting.
    I haven’t really touched on the US/UK differences much in the blog but when I was reading about it I could see how much trouble one could get into simply because of the different meanings of some of the words!

    Reply
  51. Great Post, Nicola – thank you!
    I don’t mind swearing in stories if the words are appropriate for a character. But when I’m writing such words into character’s mouths, I try and come up with inventive oaths that reflect the word view of that particular character. I’ve had an especially profane character, a Marine Officer on board a ship, mutter, “God’s balls,” as an extremely ripe counterpoint to the people and conversation around him.
    I suppose swear words are like spices, they have to be used judiciously to create the right flavor.

    Reply
  52. Great Post, Nicola – thank you!
    I don’t mind swearing in stories if the words are appropriate for a character. But when I’m writing such words into character’s mouths, I try and come up with inventive oaths that reflect the word view of that particular character. I’ve had an especially profane character, a Marine Officer on board a ship, mutter, “God’s balls,” as an extremely ripe counterpoint to the people and conversation around him.
    I suppose swear words are like spices, they have to be used judiciously to create the right flavor.

    Reply
  53. Great Post, Nicola – thank you!
    I don’t mind swearing in stories if the words are appropriate for a character. But when I’m writing such words into character’s mouths, I try and come up with inventive oaths that reflect the word view of that particular character. I’ve had an especially profane character, a Marine Officer on board a ship, mutter, “God’s balls,” as an extremely ripe counterpoint to the people and conversation around him.
    I suppose swear words are like spices, they have to be used judiciously to create the right flavor.

    Reply
  54. Great Post, Nicola – thank you!
    I don’t mind swearing in stories if the words are appropriate for a character. But when I’m writing such words into character’s mouths, I try and come up with inventive oaths that reflect the word view of that particular character. I’ve had an especially profane character, a Marine Officer on board a ship, mutter, “God’s balls,” as an extremely ripe counterpoint to the people and conversation around him.
    I suppose swear words are like spices, they have to be used judiciously to create the right flavor.

    Reply
  55. Great Post, Nicola – thank you!
    I don’t mind swearing in stories if the words are appropriate for a character. But when I’m writing such words into character’s mouths, I try and come up with inventive oaths that reflect the word view of that particular character. I’ve had an especially profane character, a Marine Officer on board a ship, mutter, “God’s balls,” as an extremely ripe counterpoint to the people and conversation around him.
    I suppose swear words are like spices, they have to be used judiciously to create the right flavor.

    Reply
  56. Thank you, Elizabeth! Yes, swear words are very much like spices. You have to get the quantities right and maybe not all spices are to everybody’s taste. I love the idea of your Marine Officer being a salty contrast to the gentility around him!

    Reply
  57. Thank you, Elizabeth! Yes, swear words are very much like spices. You have to get the quantities right and maybe not all spices are to everybody’s taste. I love the idea of your Marine Officer being a salty contrast to the gentility around him!

    Reply
  58. Thank you, Elizabeth! Yes, swear words are very much like spices. You have to get the quantities right and maybe not all spices are to everybody’s taste. I love the idea of your Marine Officer being a salty contrast to the gentility around him!

    Reply
  59. Thank you, Elizabeth! Yes, swear words are very much like spices. You have to get the quantities right and maybe not all spices are to everybody’s taste. I love the idea of your Marine Officer being a salty contrast to the gentility around him!

    Reply
  60. Thank you, Elizabeth! Yes, swear words are very much like spices. You have to get the quantities right and maybe not all spices are to everybody’s taste. I love the idea of your Marine Officer being a salty contrast to the gentility around him!

    Reply
  61. I don’t mind swearing in a book as long as I, as a reader, am feeling the frustration behind the person swearing. And sometimes, I find I like those curses like “the fussocking old lady” where I actually have to go and look up what fussocking is, are my favorites.

    Reply
  62. I don’t mind swearing in a book as long as I, as a reader, am feeling the frustration behind the person swearing. And sometimes, I find I like those curses like “the fussocking old lady” where I actually have to go and look up what fussocking is, are my favorites.

    Reply
  63. I don’t mind swearing in a book as long as I, as a reader, am feeling the frustration behind the person swearing. And sometimes, I find I like those curses like “the fussocking old lady” where I actually have to go and look up what fussocking is, are my favorites.

    Reply
  64. I don’t mind swearing in a book as long as I, as a reader, am feeling the frustration behind the person swearing. And sometimes, I find I like those curses like “the fussocking old lady” where I actually have to go and look up what fussocking is, are my favorites.

    Reply
  65. I don’t mind swearing in a book as long as I, as a reader, am feeling the frustration behind the person swearing. And sometimes, I find I like those curses like “the fussocking old lady” where I actually have to go and look up what fussocking is, are my favorites.

    Reply
  66. Great post, Nicola.
    My father used to say ‘Strewth’ and ‘By Jove’ But then he was an Edwardian – probably one of the last to use those expressions.
    The word I like is ‘firkytoodle’ which the Penguin Dictionary of Historical Slang rather prissily defines as ‘To indulge in physically intimate endearments; esp. (sic) in those provocative caresses which constitute the normal preliminaries to sexual congress.’
    Strewth!

    Reply
  67. Great post, Nicola.
    My father used to say ‘Strewth’ and ‘By Jove’ But then he was an Edwardian – probably one of the last to use those expressions.
    The word I like is ‘firkytoodle’ which the Penguin Dictionary of Historical Slang rather prissily defines as ‘To indulge in physically intimate endearments; esp. (sic) in those provocative caresses which constitute the normal preliminaries to sexual congress.’
    Strewth!

    Reply
  68. Great post, Nicola.
    My father used to say ‘Strewth’ and ‘By Jove’ But then he was an Edwardian – probably one of the last to use those expressions.
    The word I like is ‘firkytoodle’ which the Penguin Dictionary of Historical Slang rather prissily defines as ‘To indulge in physically intimate endearments; esp. (sic) in those provocative caresses which constitute the normal preliminaries to sexual congress.’
    Strewth!

    Reply
  69. Great post, Nicola.
    My father used to say ‘Strewth’ and ‘By Jove’ But then he was an Edwardian – probably one of the last to use those expressions.
    The word I like is ‘firkytoodle’ which the Penguin Dictionary of Historical Slang rather prissily defines as ‘To indulge in physically intimate endearments; esp. (sic) in those provocative caresses which constitute the normal preliminaries to sexual congress.’
    Strewth!

    Reply
  70. Great post, Nicola.
    My father used to say ‘Strewth’ and ‘By Jove’ But then he was an Edwardian – probably one of the last to use those expressions.
    The word I like is ‘firkytoodle’ which the Penguin Dictionary of Historical Slang rather prissily defines as ‘To indulge in physically intimate endearments; esp. (sic) in those provocative caresses which constitute the normal preliminaries to sexual congress.’
    Strewth!

    Reply
  71. I don’t care for explicit swear words, like the ones you’ve prettified with the *’s, in romances. Yes, men can swear a lot, especially when they’re in packs. But I don’t like to read those words, just as I don’t say them or associate with people who do, and reading them throws me out of the story. I think these words belong in erotica/erotic romance.
    Unfortunately, as society becomes less and less polite, these words will increase. And I don’t think authors use these words to be authentic. I just think they want to shock and they can get away with it now. When you read 150 pages, and then you get a sh*t or a c*nt, (and I really hate the second one), it destroys the enjoyment for me. And I seriously consider whether I’ll buy another book by this author.
    Shakespeare had the right idea. Authors are wordsmiths. They can think up original insults that don’t use those words.

    Reply
  72. I don’t care for explicit swear words, like the ones you’ve prettified with the *’s, in romances. Yes, men can swear a lot, especially when they’re in packs. But I don’t like to read those words, just as I don’t say them or associate with people who do, and reading them throws me out of the story. I think these words belong in erotica/erotic romance.
    Unfortunately, as society becomes less and less polite, these words will increase. And I don’t think authors use these words to be authentic. I just think they want to shock and they can get away with it now. When you read 150 pages, and then you get a sh*t or a c*nt, (and I really hate the second one), it destroys the enjoyment for me. And I seriously consider whether I’ll buy another book by this author.
    Shakespeare had the right idea. Authors are wordsmiths. They can think up original insults that don’t use those words.

    Reply
  73. I don’t care for explicit swear words, like the ones you’ve prettified with the *’s, in romances. Yes, men can swear a lot, especially when they’re in packs. But I don’t like to read those words, just as I don’t say them or associate with people who do, and reading them throws me out of the story. I think these words belong in erotica/erotic romance.
    Unfortunately, as society becomes less and less polite, these words will increase. And I don’t think authors use these words to be authentic. I just think they want to shock and they can get away with it now. When you read 150 pages, and then you get a sh*t or a c*nt, (and I really hate the second one), it destroys the enjoyment for me. And I seriously consider whether I’ll buy another book by this author.
    Shakespeare had the right idea. Authors are wordsmiths. They can think up original insults that don’t use those words.

    Reply
  74. I don’t care for explicit swear words, like the ones you’ve prettified with the *’s, in romances. Yes, men can swear a lot, especially when they’re in packs. But I don’t like to read those words, just as I don’t say them or associate with people who do, and reading them throws me out of the story. I think these words belong in erotica/erotic romance.
    Unfortunately, as society becomes less and less polite, these words will increase. And I don’t think authors use these words to be authentic. I just think they want to shock and they can get away with it now. When you read 150 pages, and then you get a sh*t or a c*nt, (and I really hate the second one), it destroys the enjoyment for me. And I seriously consider whether I’ll buy another book by this author.
    Shakespeare had the right idea. Authors are wordsmiths. They can think up original insults that don’t use those words.

    Reply
  75. I don’t care for explicit swear words, like the ones you’ve prettified with the *’s, in romances. Yes, men can swear a lot, especially when they’re in packs. But I don’t like to read those words, just as I don’t say them or associate with people who do, and reading them throws me out of the story. I think these words belong in erotica/erotic romance.
    Unfortunately, as society becomes less and less polite, these words will increase. And I don’t think authors use these words to be authentic. I just think they want to shock and they can get away with it now. When you read 150 pages, and then you get a sh*t or a c*nt, (and I really hate the second one), it destroys the enjoyment for me. And I seriously consider whether I’ll buy another book by this author.
    Shakespeare had the right idea. Authors are wordsmiths. They can think up original insults that don’t use those words.

    Reply
  76. I don’t really have a problem with swearing. Sometimes it can be jarring in both books and life, but I’m from New York City, where we curse nearly every other word. It doesn’t sound very nice and it’s not necessary all of the time, but I find it unrealistic for characters to not curse once in a while.
    My Irish great-grandparents apparently liked to say “Oh, be the hokey,” which is a derivation of “Oh, by the holy.” They also used to swear in Gaelic–I find the Gaelic swears more satisfying when I’m frustrated than the English ones.

    Reply
  77. I don’t really have a problem with swearing. Sometimes it can be jarring in both books and life, but I’m from New York City, where we curse nearly every other word. It doesn’t sound very nice and it’s not necessary all of the time, but I find it unrealistic for characters to not curse once in a while.
    My Irish great-grandparents apparently liked to say “Oh, be the hokey,” which is a derivation of “Oh, by the holy.” They also used to swear in Gaelic–I find the Gaelic swears more satisfying when I’m frustrated than the English ones.

    Reply
  78. I don’t really have a problem with swearing. Sometimes it can be jarring in both books and life, but I’m from New York City, where we curse nearly every other word. It doesn’t sound very nice and it’s not necessary all of the time, but I find it unrealistic for characters to not curse once in a while.
    My Irish great-grandparents apparently liked to say “Oh, be the hokey,” which is a derivation of “Oh, by the holy.” They also used to swear in Gaelic–I find the Gaelic swears more satisfying when I’m frustrated than the English ones.

    Reply
  79. I don’t really have a problem with swearing. Sometimes it can be jarring in both books and life, but I’m from New York City, where we curse nearly every other word. It doesn’t sound very nice and it’s not necessary all of the time, but I find it unrealistic for characters to not curse once in a while.
    My Irish great-grandparents apparently liked to say “Oh, be the hokey,” which is a derivation of “Oh, by the holy.” They also used to swear in Gaelic–I find the Gaelic swears more satisfying when I’m frustrated than the English ones.

    Reply
  80. I don’t really have a problem with swearing. Sometimes it can be jarring in both books and life, but I’m from New York City, where we curse nearly every other word. It doesn’t sound very nice and it’s not necessary all of the time, but I find it unrealistic for characters to not curse once in a while.
    My Irish great-grandparents apparently liked to say “Oh, be the hokey,” which is a derivation of “Oh, by the holy.” They also used to swear in Gaelic–I find the Gaelic swears more satisfying when I’m frustrated than the English ones.

    Reply
  81. Linda, I agree one cannot beat Shakespeare for both a clever and original insult. I very much like the idea of emulating him (and Eloisa James) and inventing some really imaginative stuff.
    Annrei, your comment on Gaelic curses reminds me of the comedy programme Father Ted with its copious use of the word “feck.” I also like the Scots “pish.” That simply doesn’t sound rude to me. But sard remains my all time favourite.

    Reply
  82. Linda, I agree one cannot beat Shakespeare for both a clever and original insult. I very much like the idea of emulating him (and Eloisa James) and inventing some really imaginative stuff.
    Annrei, your comment on Gaelic curses reminds me of the comedy programme Father Ted with its copious use of the word “feck.” I also like the Scots “pish.” That simply doesn’t sound rude to me. But sard remains my all time favourite.

    Reply
  83. Linda, I agree one cannot beat Shakespeare for both a clever and original insult. I very much like the idea of emulating him (and Eloisa James) and inventing some really imaginative stuff.
    Annrei, your comment on Gaelic curses reminds me of the comedy programme Father Ted with its copious use of the word “feck.” I also like the Scots “pish.” That simply doesn’t sound rude to me. But sard remains my all time favourite.

    Reply
  84. Linda, I agree one cannot beat Shakespeare for both a clever and original insult. I very much like the idea of emulating him (and Eloisa James) and inventing some really imaginative stuff.
    Annrei, your comment on Gaelic curses reminds me of the comedy programme Father Ted with its copious use of the word “feck.” I also like the Scots “pish.” That simply doesn’t sound rude to me. But sard remains my all time favourite.

    Reply
  85. Linda, I agree one cannot beat Shakespeare for both a clever and original insult. I very much like the idea of emulating him (and Eloisa James) and inventing some really imaginative stuff.
    Annrei, your comment on Gaelic curses reminds me of the comedy programme Father Ted with its copious use of the word “feck.” I also like the Scots “pish.” That simply doesn’t sound rude to me. But sard remains my all time favourite.

    Reply
  86. Firstly huge congrats to all the Wenches nominated for the RITA way to go Ladies fingers crossed for you all.
    Nicola
    Great post very interesting as for swear words in books if the scene warrants it then I am happy with with. I do sometimes think that they are used too often and in normal day life I don’t like hearing swear words as much as I do especcially around children but times are changing but I think we still need to respect other people that are around and be a bit careful LOL
    Have Fun
    Helen

    Reply
  87. Firstly huge congrats to all the Wenches nominated for the RITA way to go Ladies fingers crossed for you all.
    Nicola
    Great post very interesting as for swear words in books if the scene warrants it then I am happy with with. I do sometimes think that they are used too often and in normal day life I don’t like hearing swear words as much as I do especcially around children but times are changing but I think we still need to respect other people that are around and be a bit careful LOL
    Have Fun
    Helen

    Reply
  88. Firstly huge congrats to all the Wenches nominated for the RITA way to go Ladies fingers crossed for you all.
    Nicola
    Great post very interesting as for swear words in books if the scene warrants it then I am happy with with. I do sometimes think that they are used too often and in normal day life I don’t like hearing swear words as much as I do especcially around children but times are changing but I think we still need to respect other people that are around and be a bit careful LOL
    Have Fun
    Helen

    Reply
  89. Firstly huge congrats to all the Wenches nominated for the RITA way to go Ladies fingers crossed for you all.
    Nicola
    Great post very interesting as for swear words in books if the scene warrants it then I am happy with with. I do sometimes think that they are used too often and in normal day life I don’t like hearing swear words as much as I do especcially around children but times are changing but I think we still need to respect other people that are around and be a bit careful LOL
    Have Fun
    Helen

    Reply
  90. Firstly huge congrats to all the Wenches nominated for the RITA way to go Ladies fingers crossed for you all.
    Nicola
    Great post very interesting as for swear words in books if the scene warrants it then I am happy with with. I do sometimes think that they are used too often and in normal day life I don’t like hearing swear words as much as I do especcially around children but times are changing but I think we still need to respect other people that are around and be a bit careful LOL
    Have Fun
    Helen

    Reply
  91. LOve the post, Nicola, and applaud how skillfully you navigated the treacherous shoals of the vulgar and profane! The historical derivations are fascinating to me. (did not know where bloody came from) Shakespeare’s wonderfully creative curses are far more fun than the modern day equivalent, which have become so, say we say, overused that they aren’t shocking, merely dreary. I think we should all start inventing descriptive phrases . . . maybe we should do a contest and the prize is using it in one of our books!

    Reply
  92. LOve the post, Nicola, and applaud how skillfully you navigated the treacherous shoals of the vulgar and profane! The historical derivations are fascinating to me. (did not know where bloody came from) Shakespeare’s wonderfully creative curses are far more fun than the modern day equivalent, which have become so, say we say, overused that they aren’t shocking, merely dreary. I think we should all start inventing descriptive phrases . . . maybe we should do a contest and the prize is using it in one of our books!

    Reply
  93. LOve the post, Nicola, and applaud how skillfully you navigated the treacherous shoals of the vulgar and profane! The historical derivations are fascinating to me. (did not know where bloody came from) Shakespeare’s wonderfully creative curses are far more fun than the modern day equivalent, which have become so, say we say, overused that they aren’t shocking, merely dreary. I think we should all start inventing descriptive phrases . . . maybe we should do a contest and the prize is using it in one of our books!

    Reply
  94. LOve the post, Nicola, and applaud how skillfully you navigated the treacherous shoals of the vulgar and profane! The historical derivations are fascinating to me. (did not know where bloody came from) Shakespeare’s wonderfully creative curses are far more fun than the modern day equivalent, which have become so, say we say, overused that they aren’t shocking, merely dreary. I think we should all start inventing descriptive phrases . . . maybe we should do a contest and the prize is using it in one of our books!

    Reply
  95. LOve the post, Nicola, and applaud how skillfully you navigated the treacherous shoals of the vulgar and profane! The historical derivations are fascinating to me. (did not know where bloody came from) Shakespeare’s wonderfully creative curses are far more fun than the modern day equivalent, which have become so, say we say, overused that they aren’t shocking, merely dreary. I think we should all start inventing descriptive phrases . . . maybe we should do a contest and the prize is using it in one of our books!

    Reply
  96. Sherrie, here. What an excellent post, Nicola! This was a real eye-opener. I’ve never heard of the word *sard*, and to me, it just doesn’t convey that satisfying sense of strong emotion–probably because it’s a new word for me.
    And I was surprised about the word *pish*. I always thought that was a pretty tame word, and have often seen *pish tosh* in books, generally used by elderly ladies as a mild exclamation.
    Even in the U.S. certain words can have different meanings, depending on where you live. For instance, here in the Pacific NW, *twat* is just a euphemism for bottom, generally used in an affectionate way, such as, “Come over here and sit your twat down.” But in the deep South, it is an extremely vulgar euphemism for the c-word. Yikes! I no longer use that term!
    I’ll admit to using an occasional mild expletive myself in the privacy of my home (never in public!), but prefer not to read them in excess in novels. And I abhor the excessive use of profanity in our modern society, which seems to go hand-in-hand with the increase in rudeness. As far as my own language, I’ve found a satisfying substitute for a word I’d become overly fond of using that begins with *s* and ends with *bitch*. I’d catch myself starting to say the word, then realize I had vowed to stop using it. But while in the middle of that realization, I was still making the *s* sound: “sssss…” In other words, I has hissing like a snake. It was a very satisfying sound, and now I just hiss instead of saying a naughty word.

    Reply
  97. Sherrie, here. What an excellent post, Nicola! This was a real eye-opener. I’ve never heard of the word *sard*, and to me, it just doesn’t convey that satisfying sense of strong emotion–probably because it’s a new word for me.
    And I was surprised about the word *pish*. I always thought that was a pretty tame word, and have often seen *pish tosh* in books, generally used by elderly ladies as a mild exclamation.
    Even in the U.S. certain words can have different meanings, depending on where you live. For instance, here in the Pacific NW, *twat* is just a euphemism for bottom, generally used in an affectionate way, such as, “Come over here and sit your twat down.” But in the deep South, it is an extremely vulgar euphemism for the c-word. Yikes! I no longer use that term!
    I’ll admit to using an occasional mild expletive myself in the privacy of my home (never in public!), but prefer not to read them in excess in novels. And I abhor the excessive use of profanity in our modern society, which seems to go hand-in-hand with the increase in rudeness. As far as my own language, I’ve found a satisfying substitute for a word I’d become overly fond of using that begins with *s* and ends with *bitch*. I’d catch myself starting to say the word, then realize I had vowed to stop using it. But while in the middle of that realization, I was still making the *s* sound: “sssss…” In other words, I has hissing like a snake. It was a very satisfying sound, and now I just hiss instead of saying a naughty word.

    Reply
  98. Sherrie, here. What an excellent post, Nicola! This was a real eye-opener. I’ve never heard of the word *sard*, and to me, it just doesn’t convey that satisfying sense of strong emotion–probably because it’s a new word for me.
    And I was surprised about the word *pish*. I always thought that was a pretty tame word, and have often seen *pish tosh* in books, generally used by elderly ladies as a mild exclamation.
    Even in the U.S. certain words can have different meanings, depending on where you live. For instance, here in the Pacific NW, *twat* is just a euphemism for bottom, generally used in an affectionate way, such as, “Come over here and sit your twat down.” But in the deep South, it is an extremely vulgar euphemism for the c-word. Yikes! I no longer use that term!
    I’ll admit to using an occasional mild expletive myself in the privacy of my home (never in public!), but prefer not to read them in excess in novels. And I abhor the excessive use of profanity in our modern society, which seems to go hand-in-hand with the increase in rudeness. As far as my own language, I’ve found a satisfying substitute for a word I’d become overly fond of using that begins with *s* and ends with *bitch*. I’d catch myself starting to say the word, then realize I had vowed to stop using it. But while in the middle of that realization, I was still making the *s* sound: “sssss…” In other words, I has hissing like a snake. It was a very satisfying sound, and now I just hiss instead of saying a naughty word.

    Reply
  99. Sherrie, here. What an excellent post, Nicola! This was a real eye-opener. I’ve never heard of the word *sard*, and to me, it just doesn’t convey that satisfying sense of strong emotion–probably because it’s a new word for me.
    And I was surprised about the word *pish*. I always thought that was a pretty tame word, and have often seen *pish tosh* in books, generally used by elderly ladies as a mild exclamation.
    Even in the U.S. certain words can have different meanings, depending on where you live. For instance, here in the Pacific NW, *twat* is just a euphemism for bottom, generally used in an affectionate way, such as, “Come over here and sit your twat down.” But in the deep South, it is an extremely vulgar euphemism for the c-word. Yikes! I no longer use that term!
    I’ll admit to using an occasional mild expletive myself in the privacy of my home (never in public!), but prefer not to read them in excess in novels. And I abhor the excessive use of profanity in our modern society, which seems to go hand-in-hand with the increase in rudeness. As far as my own language, I’ve found a satisfying substitute for a word I’d become overly fond of using that begins with *s* and ends with *bitch*. I’d catch myself starting to say the word, then realize I had vowed to stop using it. But while in the middle of that realization, I was still making the *s* sound: “sssss…” In other words, I has hissing like a snake. It was a very satisfying sound, and now I just hiss instead of saying a naughty word.

    Reply
  100. Sherrie, here. What an excellent post, Nicola! This was a real eye-opener. I’ve never heard of the word *sard*, and to me, it just doesn’t convey that satisfying sense of strong emotion–probably because it’s a new word for me.
    And I was surprised about the word *pish*. I always thought that was a pretty tame word, and have often seen *pish tosh* in books, generally used by elderly ladies as a mild exclamation.
    Even in the U.S. certain words can have different meanings, depending on where you live. For instance, here in the Pacific NW, *twat* is just a euphemism for bottom, generally used in an affectionate way, such as, “Come over here and sit your twat down.” But in the deep South, it is an extremely vulgar euphemism for the c-word. Yikes! I no longer use that term!
    I’ll admit to using an occasional mild expletive myself in the privacy of my home (never in public!), but prefer not to read them in excess in novels. And I abhor the excessive use of profanity in our modern society, which seems to go hand-in-hand with the increase in rudeness. As far as my own language, I’ve found a satisfying substitute for a word I’d become overly fond of using that begins with *s* and ends with *bitch*. I’d catch myself starting to say the word, then realize I had vowed to stop using it. But while in the middle of that realization, I was still making the *s* sound: “sssss…” In other words, I has hissing like a snake. It was a very satisfying sound, and now I just hiss instead of saying a naughty word.

    Reply
  101. Nicola–
    What a very elegant discussion of such an inelegant topic! I don’t mind reading swearing if it’s appropriate, but if it’s overdone, it gets tedious really fast. On the rare occasions when I use strong language in a book, it’s usually a villain talking. *g*

    Reply
  102. Nicola–
    What a very elegant discussion of such an inelegant topic! I don’t mind reading swearing if it’s appropriate, but if it’s overdone, it gets tedious really fast. On the rare occasions when I use strong language in a book, it’s usually a villain talking. *g*

    Reply
  103. Nicola–
    What a very elegant discussion of such an inelegant topic! I don’t mind reading swearing if it’s appropriate, but if it’s overdone, it gets tedious really fast. On the rare occasions when I use strong language in a book, it’s usually a villain talking. *g*

    Reply
  104. Nicola–
    What a very elegant discussion of such an inelegant topic! I don’t mind reading swearing if it’s appropriate, but if it’s overdone, it gets tedious really fast. On the rare occasions when I use strong language in a book, it’s usually a villain talking. *g*

    Reply
  105. Nicola–
    What a very elegant discussion of such an inelegant topic! I don’t mind reading swearing if it’s appropriate, but if it’s overdone, it gets tedious really fast. On the rare occasions when I use strong language in a book, it’s usually a villain talking. *g*

    Reply
  106. Helen, thank you for the congrats! I completely agree with you about swearing in everyday life. I was brought up in a pretty strict household (there was an investigation the day I said damn!) and it still gives me a shock to hear people swearing in the street.

    Reply
  107. Helen, thank you for the congrats! I completely agree with you about swearing in everyday life. I was brought up in a pretty strict household (there was an investigation the day I said damn!) and it still gives me a shock to hear people swearing in the street.

    Reply
  108. Helen, thank you for the congrats! I completely agree with you about swearing in everyday life. I was brought up in a pretty strict household (there was an investigation the day I said damn!) and it still gives me a shock to hear people swearing in the street.

    Reply
  109. Helen, thank you for the congrats! I completely agree with you about swearing in everyday life. I was brought up in a pretty strict household (there was an investigation the day I said damn!) and it still gives me a shock to hear people swearing in the street.

    Reply
  110. Helen, thank you for the congrats! I completely agree with you about swearing in everyday life. I was brought up in a pretty strict household (there was an investigation the day I said damn!) and it still gives me a shock to hear people swearing in the street.

    Reply
  111. Cara/Andrea, I love the idea of having an inventive oaths contest! We must do that!
    Sherrie, the whole thing of different words having different meanings depending on which part of the country you are in is fascinating and definitely a minefield! Pish is pretty mild in England. Twat on the other hand has the same meaning as it does in the US deep South! In fact when our Prime Minister used the word in a joke on the radio he was forced to apologise.
    I love the idea of the expletive hiss!

    Reply
  112. Cara/Andrea, I love the idea of having an inventive oaths contest! We must do that!
    Sherrie, the whole thing of different words having different meanings depending on which part of the country you are in is fascinating and definitely a minefield! Pish is pretty mild in England. Twat on the other hand has the same meaning as it does in the US deep South! In fact when our Prime Minister used the word in a joke on the radio he was forced to apologise.
    I love the idea of the expletive hiss!

    Reply
  113. Cara/Andrea, I love the idea of having an inventive oaths contest! We must do that!
    Sherrie, the whole thing of different words having different meanings depending on which part of the country you are in is fascinating and definitely a minefield! Pish is pretty mild in England. Twat on the other hand has the same meaning as it does in the US deep South! In fact when our Prime Minister used the word in a joke on the radio he was forced to apologise.
    I love the idea of the expletive hiss!

    Reply
  114. Cara/Andrea, I love the idea of having an inventive oaths contest! We must do that!
    Sherrie, the whole thing of different words having different meanings depending on which part of the country you are in is fascinating and definitely a minefield! Pish is pretty mild in England. Twat on the other hand has the same meaning as it does in the US deep South! In fact when our Prime Minister used the word in a joke on the radio he was forced to apologise.
    I love the idea of the expletive hiss!

    Reply
  115. Cara/Andrea, I love the idea of having an inventive oaths contest! We must do that!
    Sherrie, the whole thing of different words having different meanings depending on which part of the country you are in is fascinating and definitely a minefield! Pish is pretty mild in England. Twat on the other hand has the same meaning as it does in the US deep South! In fact when our Prime Minister used the word in a joke on the radio he was forced to apologise.
    I love the idea of the expletive hiss!

    Reply
  116. What an interesting post!
    As for swearing in books, I’m not bothered if it’s part of the characterization, but I think overuse in fiction and in RL renders swearing ineffective. I once saw an entire class physically recoil from a professor’s use of the f word to call attention to postlapsarian sex in Paradise Lost. Had the prof frequently used such language, a powerful teaching moment would have been lost.
    I also think that often swearing is lazy language. I love Susan Elizabeth Phillips’s creative swearing in This Heart of Mine when Molly, conscious of her language in front of her young nieces and nephew, borrows “Slytherin” from J. K. Rowling as the ultimate in namecalling.

    Reply
  117. What an interesting post!
    As for swearing in books, I’m not bothered if it’s part of the characterization, but I think overuse in fiction and in RL renders swearing ineffective. I once saw an entire class physically recoil from a professor’s use of the f word to call attention to postlapsarian sex in Paradise Lost. Had the prof frequently used such language, a powerful teaching moment would have been lost.
    I also think that often swearing is lazy language. I love Susan Elizabeth Phillips’s creative swearing in This Heart of Mine when Molly, conscious of her language in front of her young nieces and nephew, borrows “Slytherin” from J. K. Rowling as the ultimate in namecalling.

    Reply
  118. What an interesting post!
    As for swearing in books, I’m not bothered if it’s part of the characterization, but I think overuse in fiction and in RL renders swearing ineffective. I once saw an entire class physically recoil from a professor’s use of the f word to call attention to postlapsarian sex in Paradise Lost. Had the prof frequently used such language, a powerful teaching moment would have been lost.
    I also think that often swearing is lazy language. I love Susan Elizabeth Phillips’s creative swearing in This Heart of Mine when Molly, conscious of her language in front of her young nieces and nephew, borrows “Slytherin” from J. K. Rowling as the ultimate in namecalling.

    Reply
  119. What an interesting post!
    As for swearing in books, I’m not bothered if it’s part of the characterization, but I think overuse in fiction and in RL renders swearing ineffective. I once saw an entire class physically recoil from a professor’s use of the f word to call attention to postlapsarian sex in Paradise Lost. Had the prof frequently used such language, a powerful teaching moment would have been lost.
    I also think that often swearing is lazy language. I love Susan Elizabeth Phillips’s creative swearing in This Heart of Mine when Molly, conscious of her language in front of her young nieces and nephew, borrows “Slytherin” from J. K. Rowling as the ultimate in namecalling.

    Reply
  120. What an interesting post!
    As for swearing in books, I’m not bothered if it’s part of the characterization, but I think overuse in fiction and in RL renders swearing ineffective. I once saw an entire class physically recoil from a professor’s use of the f word to call attention to postlapsarian sex in Paradise Lost. Had the prof frequently used such language, a powerful teaching moment would have been lost.
    I also think that often swearing is lazy language. I love Susan Elizabeth Phillips’s creative swearing in This Heart of Mine when Molly, conscious of her language in front of her young nieces and nephew, borrows “Slytherin” from J. K. Rowling as the ultimate in namecalling.

    Reply
  121. Thank you, Janga. I do love the idea of creative namecalling and definitely think we should take up Andrea/Cara’s idea of a contest.
    Have just discovered in my reading that the word “footee” was considered very rude in the 18th century, on a par with the f word, which underlines how some words can completely fall from usage.

    Reply
  122. Thank you, Janga. I do love the idea of creative namecalling and definitely think we should take up Andrea/Cara’s idea of a contest.
    Have just discovered in my reading that the word “footee” was considered very rude in the 18th century, on a par with the f word, which underlines how some words can completely fall from usage.

    Reply
  123. Thank you, Janga. I do love the idea of creative namecalling and definitely think we should take up Andrea/Cara’s idea of a contest.
    Have just discovered in my reading that the word “footee” was considered very rude in the 18th century, on a par with the f word, which underlines how some words can completely fall from usage.

    Reply
  124. Thank you, Janga. I do love the idea of creative namecalling and definitely think we should take up Andrea/Cara’s idea of a contest.
    Have just discovered in my reading that the word “footee” was considered very rude in the 18th century, on a par with the f word, which underlines how some words can completely fall from usage.

    Reply
  125. Thank you, Janga. I do love the idea of creative namecalling and definitely think we should take up Andrea/Cara’s idea of a contest.
    Have just discovered in my reading that the word “footee” was considered very rude in the 18th century, on a par with the f word, which underlines how some words can completely fall from usage.

    Reply
  126. Delightful blog, Nicola, thank you! I personally dislike swearing because it’s too easy and thus addictive. I’m sure most of us know people who can’t speak without the F word as their only adjective. Books that reflect this habit don’t appeal to me because I figure the characters are brain dead.
    But a judiciously placed swear word in dialogue can be extremely effective. I’d prefer Shakespeare’s insults, but I’m sure we can come up with some excellent ones of our own!

    Reply
  127. Delightful blog, Nicola, thank you! I personally dislike swearing because it’s too easy and thus addictive. I’m sure most of us know people who can’t speak without the F word as their only adjective. Books that reflect this habit don’t appeal to me because I figure the characters are brain dead.
    But a judiciously placed swear word in dialogue can be extremely effective. I’d prefer Shakespeare’s insults, but I’m sure we can come up with some excellent ones of our own!

    Reply
  128. Delightful blog, Nicola, thank you! I personally dislike swearing because it’s too easy and thus addictive. I’m sure most of us know people who can’t speak without the F word as their only adjective. Books that reflect this habit don’t appeal to me because I figure the characters are brain dead.
    But a judiciously placed swear word in dialogue can be extremely effective. I’d prefer Shakespeare’s insults, but I’m sure we can come up with some excellent ones of our own!

    Reply
  129. Delightful blog, Nicola, thank you! I personally dislike swearing because it’s too easy and thus addictive. I’m sure most of us know people who can’t speak without the F word as their only adjective. Books that reflect this habit don’t appeal to me because I figure the characters are brain dead.
    But a judiciously placed swear word in dialogue can be extremely effective. I’d prefer Shakespeare’s insults, but I’m sure we can come up with some excellent ones of our own!

    Reply
  130. Delightful blog, Nicola, thank you! I personally dislike swearing because it’s too easy and thus addictive. I’m sure most of us know people who can’t speak without the F word as their only adjective. Books that reflect this habit don’t appeal to me because I figure the characters are brain dead.
    But a judiciously placed swear word in dialogue can be extremely effective. I’d prefer Shakespeare’s insults, but I’m sure we can come up with some excellent ones of our own!

    Reply
  131. Nobody does swearing better than Shakespeare. He is fun to read.
    I once knew a TV announcer that could go with the swear words for 10-15 minutes without repeating the words.
    I’ve been known to say a word or three now and then.

    Reply
  132. Nobody does swearing better than Shakespeare. He is fun to read.
    I once knew a TV announcer that could go with the swear words for 10-15 minutes without repeating the words.
    I’ve been known to say a word or three now and then.

    Reply
  133. Nobody does swearing better than Shakespeare. He is fun to read.
    I once knew a TV announcer that could go with the swear words for 10-15 minutes without repeating the words.
    I’ve been known to say a word or three now and then.

    Reply
  134. Nobody does swearing better than Shakespeare. He is fun to read.
    I once knew a TV announcer that could go with the swear words for 10-15 minutes without repeating the words.
    I’ve been known to say a word or three now and then.

    Reply
  135. Nobody does swearing better than Shakespeare. He is fun to read.
    I once knew a TV announcer that could go with the swear words for 10-15 minutes without repeating the words.
    I’ve been known to say a word or three now and then.

    Reply
  136. What a smashing job of navigating a delicate subject with wit and intelligence! Brava Madame Nicola!
    As I have a passing knowledge of a few languages other than English I tend to use those swear words under my breath when the bakery crew pushed me a bit too far.
    In reading and writing Regency set historicals my only pet peeve is if the swearing is gratuitous and historically incorrect. And when the company is not considered. There are certain words a man might say amongst his friends that he would never say in the presence of a lady.
    I think they are very much like a cymbal crash in a symphony. They must be used sparingly and only at the point where they can give the greatest emphasis.
    Today’s society has degenerated into some of the most vocabulary poor people in history. No imagination and very little provocation to use words my Mother would STILL wash my mouth out with soap for saying. (Dial soap tastes REALLY nasty, if memory serves. Lava soap tastes worse!)
    I do love the British take on swearing. During a rehearsal with an international cast of opera singers an arrogant German tenor ticked off a baritone from Texas. The Texan muttered at the tenor in English. The German tenor said “Was hat er gesacht?” “What did he say?” And the VERY British basso said in a very aristocratic British accent “I believe he said you have a rather unusual relationship with your mother.” I laughed for fifteen minutes.

    Reply
  137. What a smashing job of navigating a delicate subject with wit and intelligence! Brava Madame Nicola!
    As I have a passing knowledge of a few languages other than English I tend to use those swear words under my breath when the bakery crew pushed me a bit too far.
    In reading and writing Regency set historicals my only pet peeve is if the swearing is gratuitous and historically incorrect. And when the company is not considered. There are certain words a man might say amongst his friends that he would never say in the presence of a lady.
    I think they are very much like a cymbal crash in a symphony. They must be used sparingly and only at the point where they can give the greatest emphasis.
    Today’s society has degenerated into some of the most vocabulary poor people in history. No imagination and very little provocation to use words my Mother would STILL wash my mouth out with soap for saying. (Dial soap tastes REALLY nasty, if memory serves. Lava soap tastes worse!)
    I do love the British take on swearing. During a rehearsal with an international cast of opera singers an arrogant German tenor ticked off a baritone from Texas. The Texan muttered at the tenor in English. The German tenor said “Was hat er gesacht?” “What did he say?” And the VERY British basso said in a very aristocratic British accent “I believe he said you have a rather unusual relationship with your mother.” I laughed for fifteen minutes.

    Reply
  138. What a smashing job of navigating a delicate subject with wit and intelligence! Brava Madame Nicola!
    As I have a passing knowledge of a few languages other than English I tend to use those swear words under my breath when the bakery crew pushed me a bit too far.
    In reading and writing Regency set historicals my only pet peeve is if the swearing is gratuitous and historically incorrect. And when the company is not considered. There are certain words a man might say amongst his friends that he would never say in the presence of a lady.
    I think they are very much like a cymbal crash in a symphony. They must be used sparingly and only at the point where they can give the greatest emphasis.
    Today’s society has degenerated into some of the most vocabulary poor people in history. No imagination and very little provocation to use words my Mother would STILL wash my mouth out with soap for saying. (Dial soap tastes REALLY nasty, if memory serves. Lava soap tastes worse!)
    I do love the British take on swearing. During a rehearsal with an international cast of opera singers an arrogant German tenor ticked off a baritone from Texas. The Texan muttered at the tenor in English. The German tenor said “Was hat er gesacht?” “What did he say?” And the VERY British basso said in a very aristocratic British accent “I believe he said you have a rather unusual relationship with your mother.” I laughed for fifteen minutes.

    Reply
  139. What a smashing job of navigating a delicate subject with wit and intelligence! Brava Madame Nicola!
    As I have a passing knowledge of a few languages other than English I tend to use those swear words under my breath when the bakery crew pushed me a bit too far.
    In reading and writing Regency set historicals my only pet peeve is if the swearing is gratuitous and historically incorrect. And when the company is not considered. There are certain words a man might say amongst his friends that he would never say in the presence of a lady.
    I think they are very much like a cymbal crash in a symphony. They must be used sparingly and only at the point where they can give the greatest emphasis.
    Today’s society has degenerated into some of the most vocabulary poor people in history. No imagination and very little provocation to use words my Mother would STILL wash my mouth out with soap for saying. (Dial soap tastes REALLY nasty, if memory serves. Lava soap tastes worse!)
    I do love the British take on swearing. During a rehearsal with an international cast of opera singers an arrogant German tenor ticked off a baritone from Texas. The Texan muttered at the tenor in English. The German tenor said “Was hat er gesacht?” “What did he say?” And the VERY British basso said in a very aristocratic British accent “I believe he said you have a rather unusual relationship with your mother.” I laughed for fifteen minutes.

    Reply
  140. What a smashing job of navigating a delicate subject with wit and intelligence! Brava Madame Nicola!
    As I have a passing knowledge of a few languages other than English I tend to use those swear words under my breath when the bakery crew pushed me a bit too far.
    In reading and writing Regency set historicals my only pet peeve is if the swearing is gratuitous and historically incorrect. And when the company is not considered. There are certain words a man might say amongst his friends that he would never say in the presence of a lady.
    I think they are very much like a cymbal crash in a symphony. They must be used sparingly and only at the point where they can give the greatest emphasis.
    Today’s society has degenerated into some of the most vocabulary poor people in history. No imagination and very little provocation to use words my Mother would STILL wash my mouth out with soap for saying. (Dial soap tastes REALLY nasty, if memory serves. Lava soap tastes worse!)
    I do love the British take on swearing. During a rehearsal with an international cast of opera singers an arrogant German tenor ticked off a baritone from Texas. The Texan muttered at the tenor in English. The German tenor said “Was hat er gesacht?” “What did he say?” And the VERY British basso said in a very aristocratic British accent “I believe he said you have a rather unusual relationship with your mother.” I laughed for fifteen minutes.

    Reply
  141. I’m glad you enjoyed the blog, Pat, and am very happily digging out some more Shakespearean insults!
    Louis, that is extraordinary about the TV announcer! One has to admire such a vocabulary!
    And Louisa, thank you! I absolutely loved the story about the opera singers!

    Reply
  142. I’m glad you enjoyed the blog, Pat, and am very happily digging out some more Shakespearean insults!
    Louis, that is extraordinary about the TV announcer! One has to admire such a vocabulary!
    And Louisa, thank you! I absolutely loved the story about the opera singers!

    Reply
  143. I’m glad you enjoyed the blog, Pat, and am very happily digging out some more Shakespearean insults!
    Louis, that is extraordinary about the TV announcer! One has to admire such a vocabulary!
    And Louisa, thank you! I absolutely loved the story about the opera singers!

    Reply
  144. I’m glad you enjoyed the blog, Pat, and am very happily digging out some more Shakespearean insults!
    Louis, that is extraordinary about the TV announcer! One has to admire such a vocabulary!
    And Louisa, thank you! I absolutely loved the story about the opera singers!

    Reply
  145. I’m glad you enjoyed the blog, Pat, and am very happily digging out some more Shakespearean insults!
    Louis, that is extraordinary about the TV announcer! One has to admire such a vocabulary!
    And Louisa, thank you! I absolutely loved the story about the opera singers!

    Reply
  146. Fun post, Nicola.
    Isn’t “sod off” or something like it still used in England? Derived from sard? Seems like I’ve heard it in movies.
    I like it when books avoid the exact words – “He swore under his breath…” – that sort of thing because it leaves the thing to one’s imagination. *g*

    Reply
  147. Fun post, Nicola.
    Isn’t “sod off” or something like it still used in England? Derived from sard? Seems like I’ve heard it in movies.
    I like it when books avoid the exact words – “He swore under his breath…” – that sort of thing because it leaves the thing to one’s imagination. *g*

    Reply
  148. Fun post, Nicola.
    Isn’t “sod off” or something like it still used in England? Derived from sard? Seems like I’ve heard it in movies.
    I like it when books avoid the exact words – “He swore under his breath…” – that sort of thing because it leaves the thing to one’s imagination. *g*

    Reply
  149. Fun post, Nicola.
    Isn’t “sod off” or something like it still used in England? Derived from sard? Seems like I’ve heard it in movies.
    I like it when books avoid the exact words – “He swore under his breath…” – that sort of thing because it leaves the thing to one’s imagination. *g*

    Reply
  150. Fun post, Nicola.
    Isn’t “sod off” or something like it still used in England? Derived from sard? Seems like I’ve heard it in movies.
    I like it when books avoid the exact words – “He swore under his breath…” – that sort of thing because it leaves the thing to one’s imagination. *g*

    Reply
  151. Hi Anne! Yes, “sod off” is still pretty rude in the UK but according to my book of derivations this comes from Sodomite not sard. A pity if that’s true as it could quite plausibly derive from sard and it would be nice to think there was still a relic of sard in the language.

    Reply
  152. Hi Anne! Yes, “sod off” is still pretty rude in the UK but according to my book of derivations this comes from Sodomite not sard. A pity if that’s true as it could quite plausibly derive from sard and it would be nice to think there was still a relic of sard in the language.

    Reply
  153. Hi Anne! Yes, “sod off” is still pretty rude in the UK but according to my book of derivations this comes from Sodomite not sard. A pity if that’s true as it could quite plausibly derive from sard and it would be nice to think there was still a relic of sard in the language.

    Reply
  154. Hi Anne! Yes, “sod off” is still pretty rude in the UK but according to my book of derivations this comes from Sodomite not sard. A pity if that’s true as it could quite plausibly derive from sard and it would be nice to think there was still a relic of sard in the language.

    Reply
  155. Hi Anne! Yes, “sod off” is still pretty rude in the UK but according to my book of derivations this comes from Sodomite not sard. A pity if that’s true as it could quite plausibly derive from sard and it would be nice to think there was still a relic of sard in the language.

    Reply

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