Question: What are bad words called in English?


Curse words, also known as swear words, bad words, or insults, are for most people considered taboo when teaching and learning English.

But when we let loose with a particularly satisfying swear word, the right side of our gray matter โ€” associated with emotion and cathartic expression โ€” lights up on imaging scans, reveals Columbia linguistics professor John McWhorter. As the power of religion faded, the body soon became the source of profanity, especially in matters related to sex and excrement โ€” both functions that were once more public before moving behind closed doors with the rise of personal privacy.

In ye olde days, the most forbidden words were curses against God. One theory is that the word is derived from the German ficken, which once meant to rub. Another possibility is that it comes from the Vikings, who invaded England in 787.

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Getty Images One other possibility, the author says, is that the F-word has its roots in Old English and that no clear trail survives. Its origins instead lie in a language once spoken in what is now Ukraine. Slang names for certain body parts have also evolved in fun ways.

What are bad words called in English?

The first known printed P-word was in an amorous 1699 poem. Once used as a term of endearment for women, it also developed a dirty double meaning.

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The What are bad words called in English? probably goes back hundreds of years, and may have been brought to us by the initial invaders of England, the author writes.

What are bad words called in English?

Holly McWhorter McWhorter, who has two kids aged 6 and 9, says he uses profanity around the house and expects his children will, as well. The message of his book, he says, is that we need to rethink our ideas about profanity altogether.

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