August's Swear of the Month

Splonk

It is, of course, my responsibility as a prominent swearologist to use my platform to raise awareness of certain underutilized swears and swear techniques, but from time to time I must allow my ego free rein. Today is just such a time, and so I give you a brand new, piping hot swear:

splonk [splɒ̈nk]

July's Swear of the Month

Tapioca Suitcase

E3 was a couple weeks ago, and while most people were there to scope out hot new games, I was searching for cool new swears. Lo and behold, as the convention center closed on day one of the event, I overheard a beet-red bald man scream into a mobile phone:

“For the love of Christ, Ted, I don’t want to walk into my bedroom and see you lying there with your tapioca suitcase hanging out!”

June's Swear of the Month

Syllable Count

In the study of morphology, linguists often examine “minimal pairs” – that is, morphemes which are identical in all but one respect. This allows researchers to gauge the purpose and effect of isolated phonemes in a controlled environment. The field of swearology, too, has its minimal pairs, and by examining them, we will today explore how syllable count influences the potency and purpose of a naughty word.

May's Swear of the Month

Beyond FUBAR

English is lousy with acronyms, and the only thing we like more than acronyms … is lexicalizing our acronyms. From LASER, to DARPA, to the U.S.A. P.A.T.R.I.O.T. Act (Seriously, look it up), us English speakers will shove our forearms straight up our own assholes in the quest to turn a bunch of smaller words into one big word.

April's Swear of the Month

J*sus Chr*st

Happy Easter. Here’s a list of all the ways I know to say “Jesus Christ” without saying “Jesus” or “Christ”:

March's Swear of the Month

Weenie

Several years ago, a New York publishing house was foolish enough to offer me a book contract. I got a lot out of that deal – money, a bunch of free copies of the book, and a smug sense of superiority to name just a few. But possibly the most valuable thing I gained was an unexpected lesson in swearing. Until that time, I’d only had the readers of my website to answer to, and so I’d mostly used whatever words I felt like using. The editors at the publishing house, however, pointed out some things I hadn’t consciously realized.

February's Swear of the Month

Minced Oaths

Minced oaths get a bad rap. To self-respecting swearologists, they’re often looked down upon as low-fat, sugar-free swear substitutes. To many of the prudes they’re supposed to placate, even minced oaths are too rude. But to me, an intellectual, minced swears are friggin’ cool as heck, and ruddy interesting to boot.

January's Swear of the Month

Cuck

If you’ve been online any time in the past year (or if you have your butler print out Reddit every morning so you can read it over coffee) you have probably seen someone call someone else a “cuck.” Cuck has joined (though unfortunately not replaced) words like “fag” and “tard,” in the ever-classier lexicon of the alt-right.

December's Swear of the Month

The World Fuck Crisis

I know what you’re here for, friends. You come expecting a fresh new swear to stuff into your language satchels, like giddy trick-or-treaters at the front door of a crotchety uncle. Ordinarily I would oblige. But the purpose of this swear of the month club has long since expanded beyond the mere coining of neologisms. I have made it my mission not only to arm you with new swears, but with the skill to put your arsenal of swears to good use. And so, with a heavy heart, I must inform you of a crisis that threatens the very heart of sweardom: we have reached peak fuck.

November's Swear of the Month

Skinjob

Many entertainment properties have their own proprietary swears. Battlestar Galactica has “frack”, Firefly has “gorram,” and so on. Most of these seem to have been invented primarily to get around the censors. There’s another reason swears are invented in fictional worlds, though, and the Bladerunner movies exemplify it: the slurs that exist in a world tell us a lot about the world. Don’t worry, I’m not going to spoil the new Bladerunner for you. All I want to talk about is the word “skinjob.”

October's Swear of the Month

Beyond Garbage

Recently it has become fashionable to call people, things, and events “garbage.” Within the last few years, we have taken to calling shitty people “garbage people”, and bad television “garbage television.” Garbage isn’t a new pejorative – one might say the recent trend represents a return to vogue rather than a brand new development – and its popularity is understandable. It’s simple, gracefully evades the censors, and has a full, luxurious mouthfeel. I believe, however, that there is another motive for the resurgence of garbage as an insult; a motive that may yield further swears for our collective use.

September's Swear of the Month

Actually Swearing

I’ve spent a lot of time talking about “swearing” as a general category. But why is “swearing” a label we use to refer to bad words? In court, one swears to tell the truth. In marriage, one swears to honor and cherish and whatever. When one enters public office, one goes through a “swearing-in” ceremony. And of course we cannot forget about the most sacred type of promise left to us in this age of perfidy: the “pinky-swear.” To swear is to promise in the most sincere and holy of ways, so why is the word also synonymous with “call your dad a shitlord?” Well … because of how sacred those oaths once were, it turns out.