Reversing the Curse (Word)

What's the Word?

The English language has taken several hits over the past few decades. From the rise in texting and instant messaging to the rise of slang in Webster's Dictionary, our language hasn't seen so much change since the beginning of the industrial age. Undoubtedly the younger generations are affected more as it plays more of a role in popular culture and everyday life. However, I'm somewhat disheartened to hear how many kids are using curse words.

I would like to say that I don't think people of any age should curse so often in public. And it's not that I'm prudish or have high moral standards but sometimes I like to walk through the grocery store, sit in a movie theater or just walk down the street without hearing someone blurt out something I don't necessarily want to hear.

There should still be the desire for people to express themselves uniquely without some of us having to feel uncomfortable while others do it.

Why I Don't Curse

I've heard curse words in many languages. But no matter how you say it, it's still insulting. I believe in the first amendment and how it endorses the right to free speech, but I still think there's an implied responsibility. Look at the Constitution itself. There are no inappropriate words stuck in there by our Founding Fathers. They thought enough of their country to use language that was not only understandable but honorable in explaining how we should govern ourselves.

My parents cursed when I was a kid and when I was younger my first curse word was taken from a James Brown song. It wasn't intentional, it's just something that I said when I was playing video games with my cousins and my parents overheard me. To say they were mad was putting it lightly, but soon after that I understood that I just couldn't say whatever came to my head and since then I've tried to think through my words and not blurt out what's in my brain.

I've cursed since then, but it didn't do anything but made me feel embarrassed, dumb, or just plain silly. It was usually in an instance where I was distraught, angry, or just at a loss for more appropriate words. Looking back, it was probably better that I did have a slip of the tongue to make me realize that words have meaning and just saying them isn't always the best way to go.

Also as a writer, cursing is as about as cliche as using "in conclusion." There's no originality, no creativity, and very little thought. That's one thing I like about HubPages is that they encourage creativity by asking that writers tone down harsh language. It's very much something that is okay in certain circumstances, but there's no Shakespeare, Sophocles, or Hemingway that people quote with a curse word in it.

And let me clarify, I don't think people are bad for occasionally using mature language. Sometimes there are instances and situations that warrant the use of a curse word. And there are comedians, writers, and performers who use it cleverly, but every other word? I don't think so.

The Problem with Pop Culture

It's not only family and friends that influence what we say, but pop culture, namely music, movies, and television. Like I said before, I'm not against using curse words in an interesting context but not every other minute. I still think it's more interesting when other words are used in dynamic ways.

Television has changed from the days of "Leave It to Beaver." No longer are there family sitcoms and riveting dramas but racy reality shows, sex-laden dramas, and edgy comedies dominate network schedules. And cable pretty much has the same thing but heightened even more because the standards for broadcasting are different. With that being said, there are very few shows you can find (barring children/family networks) that have no foul language at all. Even shows with families have no problem letting words slip now and then.

Movies are even worse. There are very few movies that don't feature profanity in some form. And even the more classic features like "Gone with the Wind" have signature lines that feature cursing. I remember the days where a PG movie meant no cursing and a PG-13 movie meant a couple of curse words. Now, a PG movie has a couple of curse words and a PG-13 movie sometimes stop short of the F-bomb. It gets old after awhile. In the context of an argument, fine but as a joke or in storytelling it becomes too much sometimes. I admit that sometimes I can't even watch R-rated films because so many have too much profanity to the point it doesn't sound like a sentence anymore.

Music probably has the most wiggle room in terms of getting away with dirty words. Artists have a creative license and now since the 1985 PMRC (Parents Music Resource Council) and the introduction of the Parental Advisory label, it pretty much gives acts free range to include any type of language in their music. For radio edits of singles, most words are edited out but the implications are still felt.

Most of all what irritates me is that dumb bleep you get on TV and radio when an inappropriate word pops up. Sometimes it's discreet and silent, so the song or conversation flows smoothly. And then there are the live words on live television and poorly edited songs that have that loud sound you can't ignore. It's gotten to the point where I could probably sing the bleeps in some songs more than the actual words.

Another thing that pop culture has given us is the vulgarization of everyday words that now we have to be careful about using.

Watch What You Say

You would think with so many inappropriate words that we'd have enough to describe every possible situation, but no. There are people who for some reason or another, wanted to make regular words into inappropriate double entendres.

The shortening of the name Richard used to just mean that. You just didn't want to say Richard when you saw someone with that name. Now because of President Nixon's unfortunate downward spiral, it means... well, you know.

More recently the word head has gone from an innocent word meaning that thing on top of your neck to another word for a sexual act. This one really made me mad because if you call someone big head now, they might not take it the same way as in the 90s.

There are many more words I could use, but I'm sure you get the point.

Put It In Reverse

One of my favorite sayings about choosing words actually comes from someone who openly endorses cursing, Whoopi Goldberg. In her book, Is It Just Me or Is It Nuts Out There? she says, "think it don't say it." I couldn't agree more.

I think alot of things in my head that'll never write or say and I think that's okay. People who say everything they think are not that compelling because there is nothing beyond the obvious presented to us. Even Dr. Gregory House has become old in terms of saying what came to his deranged, Vicodin-riddled mind.

If people really think about their words before they speak, we'd all be better off. There's nothing more disheartening to me than to hear someone erupt in a stream of obscenities in front of children in public or during an inappropriate time such as in the middle of class.

Like I said before, I'm not saying everyone should not ever curse, but if every five words is a bit much.

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Comments 44 comments

weestro profile image

weestro 5 years ago from Virginia

I really enjoyed this hub, very well written. I especially agree with you about going out in public. It's even worse if someone's on their phone, it's as if they forget where they are...Voted UP!

Becky Katz profile image

Becky Katz 5 years ago from Hereford, AZ

I have long told my children that cursing is just showing that you do not have a vocabulary. They will come up with extremely descriptive phrases around me. I am sure that they use more colorful language around their friends but not around me. I always tell them to watch their mouths. They can, which is very telling.

It has been very notable the few times I have dropped the F-bomb. Everyone notices and ceases their conduct immediately. My daughter-in-law, who has a very foul mouth, after 7 years of being around me, finally heard it and from that point, cleaned her mouth up. She said it sounded so bad coming from me that it impressed her with what I had been telling her.

Keeping our own mouths clean and enforcing it upon our children probably has the biggest effect of all, so we should all probably do this to clean our children's mouths up. It has worked with me and my 22 year old son has told his friends to watch their mouths around me.

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Beatlemania 5 years ago

First off, thanks for commenting on Lose Yourself v.s Stan - Which one is better? It's nice to know someone enjoyed it! But anyway, this is amazing! You're really good at writing these hubs! There's people at my school who swear every second word. There's no point in it, because they're not doing to it to explain or emphasise something, they just do it to swear.

Alecia Murphy profile image

Alecia Murphy 5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina Author

@ Weestro: I think you're right. People act like they are at home 24/7 now because they take so much liberty with themselves, almost to the point that decency seems to be going the way of chivalry. Thanks again for commenting.

@Becky Katz: I'm glad you took a stance about your children's behavior because it does have an effect. My parents tried not to curse too much around me and if they did it was usually for a good reason. And now it's gotten even worse because some adults actually think it's funny that kids use profanity. I see nothing funny nor cute about the lack of vocabulary kids are using. Thank you for commenting!

@Beatlemania: Thank you for reading my hub and for the lovely compliment. I completely understand where you are coming from as well. There are several people I grew up with who did the same thing. They just used profanity to look cool. I look forward to your future works as well.

FloraBreenRobison profile image

FloraBreenRobison 5 years ago

you ever notice how in classic films even the horrible villains didn't swear? Nowadays movie characters swear even when they aren't angry.

Alecia Murphy profile image

Alecia Murphy 5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina Author

You're exactly right Flora, I think villains in classic films are actually more intimidating because what they do is far more sinister because you don't expect it. Their body language may have indicated a part of their character, but there was no giveaway in their language or anything. They liked to see their prey sweat. Thanks for your comments.

Cogerson profile image

Cogerson 5 years ago from Virginia

When I was in manager in retail...I would usually get the worst of the bad customers.....because by the time the issue got to me....the customer had already talked to numerous people...and that makes people mad. The customer was always right....UNLESS they started using profanity...and our company policy was no associate had to deal with the only time I as a manager could tell a customer NO was when they used profanity. My favorite line was "If you can not articulate your thoughts without the use of profanity I am going to have to ask you to leave the store"...boy that would really get them worked up even more....not that it happened much...but it often enough for it to coming bouncing back into my mind while reading your hub....great points in the hub....another winning are quickly joining my favorite hub writers group. Voted up and interesting.

Alecia Murphy profile image

Alecia Murphy 5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina Author

Thanks Cogerson! I can't imagine what some of those people wanted to say, but I wish more places would implement that policy. My thing is if you can't say it in front of your mom or someone you admire, than do say it to the poor guy trying to ring you up at 5 pm on Friday.

Robin Oatley profile image

Robin Oatley 5 years ago

Great hub! You're actually making a good point in this deteriorating world. Well, that might be a bit exaggerated, but still..

Sometimes, you just have to curse, when something scares you or to get rid of your frustration. But people should learn when and where they can and can't use those words.

Oh and, using curses (or diseases or body parts, for that matter) as interjection in every other sentence makes that person a lot less convincing and it makes me unconsciously dislike them.

Alecia Murphy profile image

Alecia Murphy 5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina Author

Thanks Robin for commenting and for the fan mail! I completely agree with you. There are far too many people looking for validation and power by cursing all the time. And you're right about people using curses every other word is less than appealing.

JoshuaDR profile image

JoshuaDR 5 years ago from Charleston, SC

Nice hub. I agree that kids seem to be cursing much more than when I was a kid. I think I said my first curse words in the 6th grade and now it's not unheard of to hear a 7 year old curse.

Alecia Murphy profile image

Alecia Murphy 5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina Author

Thanks Johsua for stopping by and commenting! Yeah, I don't think it's cute when kids curse. Call me old school, it just doesn't sound good or look good on the behalf of parents.

Sunshine625 profile image

Sunshine625 5 years ago from Orlando, FL

I'm not a fan of swear words, but sometimes things happen and things are said. Uh oh! Sunshine?! You!? Haha!

Not a fan of public swearing. That's a no-no! Voted UP!!

sholland10 profile image

sholland10 5 years ago from Southwest Missouri

Alecia, this a great hub! Not that I don't curse now and then, but I do understand what you are saying about being in public. I have always been told that when we curse, we are exhibiting a lack of intelligence to find a better word. Also, I cannot believe what prime time TV puts out there. Parents have to be more careful today when choosing something to watch with the family. My mother never had to give it a second thought. Cursing just wasn't there. You make great points. Vote up and etc. :-)

THEHuG5 profile image

THEHuG5 5 years ago

I do agree that people who curse every other word are annoying. It's pretty unnecessary in that sense. I however, have no problem with cursing at all. I don't think there's anything wrong with it and I don't think that it necessarily shows a lack of intelligence on anyones part. It's just another way to express yourself. It doesn't offend me and I curse quite often I'm not going to lie. Saying "oh crap" or"oh fudge" is the same thing as using a curse word. You're still expressing your anger by using a watered down version of the real word.

However, there is a time and a place for everything. I don't curse in front of my parents (out of respect) and I don't curse in crowded public places or around people who I know are uncomfortable with it. Cursing is not so important to me that I don't respect others.

I don't really think cursing is a bad thing though. Nobody would see it as bad if there wasn't someone who decided that it was bad. All you need is a little common sense to go along with your f bombs.

Oh and I also hate when they play songs on the radio where they have to bleep everything! It's like why are you even playing it in the first place? Anywho...this is an interesting hub. And I will be voting it up.

Alecia Murphy profile image

Alecia Murphy 5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina Author

I agree Sunshine! I can see when life frustrates you and you let one slip behind closed doors. But in public, it's just tacky. Thanks for commenting!

Alecia Murphy profile image

Alecia Murphy 5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina Author

Susan, I agree with you as well. Here and there, I understand but it's just lazy and inconsiderate when people don't find another word to express their emotions.

And I definitely agree about television. I'm not a kid nor do I have a child but I won't watch shows laced with too much profanity. Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

Alecia Murphy profile image

Alecia Murphy 5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina Author

I see where your coming from Alexis. And I definitely understand that some people choose to express themselves in that way.

Even if I did curse, I wouldn't do it in front of my family-especially parents/grandparents. It's disrespectful.

And I agree about being in public. I can't count how many times I heard someone yell out the f-bomb and it stopped me in my tracks. That's a little much.

It's not bad, but as with any behavior, you should exercise proper discretion.

Thanks for commenting and stopping by!

PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 5 years ago from Juneau, Alaska

Alecia, nice Hub. Witht he arsenal of an entire language at our disposal, if someone's go to word for every situation is "fuck" it not only makes them look stupid, irt also makes the word less effective in it's use. Cursing should be used sparingly and for a point, not just because someone is too lazy to think up a better way of describing something big or something cool or something awesome.

I have a couple of hubs on the subject that may interest you: and

Alecia Murphy profile image

Alecia Murphy 5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina Author

I agree PDX, that people really need to stop using words just to use them instead of actually using language. If I did that as a writer, nobody would read my hubs. Thanks again for stopping by!

PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 5 years ago from Juneau, Alaska

I agree, Alecia. You're welcome. it's always a pleasure!

ytsenoh profile image

ytsenoh 5 years ago from Louisiana, Idaho, Kauai, Nebraska, South Dakota, Missouri

Good hub. I'm not a fan of unnecessary language and still try to set that example with my grown children. The unnecessary language is also habit forming, a lazy pattern, and leaves listeners with a negative influence. Thanks.

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Charles Hilton 5 years ago

Excellent hub! You're a very skilled writer. However, for this topic at least, I have to disagree with your basic premise; the idea of certain words being "bad".

I lean towards the old Native American approach to words. To the Native American, there was no such thing as a "curse word." Words were either true or false. The idea of a word being "cursed" has it's origins in religion. And other than offending the moral over-sensibilities of the "righteous," there is no logical reason to label some words as "curse words" or "swear words."

Those words that are taboo have origins in specific, definitive meaning which still apply today when used in those contexts. And that those same words can be stretched and used in such ways as to render them "cursed" testifies to their linguistic versatility---a good thing, I should think. Especially the mother of all four-letter-words: the much unfairly maligned "F"-word. When you take religious piety out of the equation, that notorious word loses its sting---as with most things that our Puritan legacy has soiled with its presumptuous prejudices.

I can't help but agree with the Native Americans of old that there is only truth and untruth. To label some words as "curse words" is ludicrous---yet perfectly befitting the approach to language of our morally paranoid religious forbears. I personally think it's high-time we move past our judgmental mindsets to a more enlightened approach to language and everything else.

That being said, I do agree that relying on baser language to express our thoughts is limiting, especially if there are words that better convey our intended meaning. However, for pure force of thought and intensity of emotion, nothing says it better than a "curse word." The only problem is when we over-rely on such words. But, then again, education has much to do with a person's choice of words.

Okay, time to wrap this up and say "great hub!" I could go on forever with this fascinating topic and I'm glad you wrote about it. Sorry if I offended with my thoughts. Have an excellent day! :-)

Alecia Murphy profile image

Alecia Murphy 5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina Author


I agree that cursing is something that is quite lazy and unnecessary for most situations. And it's something I don't see as being cool either. Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

Alecia Murphy profile image

Alecia Murphy 5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina Author


I like this idea you've shared about words being true or false. I think if it's not true you shouldn't say it and if it is, it's okay.

I think you're right about religion interfering with some words but in other ways it's sometimes just inappropriate, regardless of what you believe.

I also agree that people should think more before they speak but sometimes you have to let one fly.

You haven't offended me at all but I rather enjoy having a good discussion about different issues that my hubs might spark. Thank you so much for sharing them!

albertsj profile image

albertsj 5 years ago from Pittsfield, Ma

I think because nowadays it's a more more widely accepted form of communication, maybe we've become lazy.

Why does it seem to much easier for some of us to interject curse words, in to our sentences, even when we're not angry, than articulate it correctly, omitting the curse word? I say "crap" a lot, as a more benign curse than saying; "shi-" but is it, if it really means the same? I wonder. As usual this was a really good, and thought provoking hub. And well written! I'm sharing & voting up

Alecia Murphy profile image

Alecia Murphy 5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina Author

I agree Jacy, people have become more lazy about their sentences and words. I mean look at text and IM speak. However, I think it's also a result of people not being willing to think through their words as much as their actions. Thanks for commenting and sharing :).

discovery2020 profile image

discovery2020 5 years ago from TEXAS

I have always thought that people who use swear words in every sentence just lack a knowledge of the king's english. Likewise, it makes them feel important in some far fetched way and third they are adapting to peer pressure.

It is funny in my own perspective how I can sit in a movie theater with my wife and listen to swear words coming from the screen with strangers sitting all around me and it does not bother me, but, if I am sitting in a restaurant and the guy at the next table starts using foul language I take my wife and our plates of food and move to another location just to show him what a complete buffoon he is.

Alecia, I am new to the world of blogs and am very impressed with your use of grammar and punctuation. In my few searches that I have made to familiarize myself with other Hubbers I have seen a lot of poor grammar and improper punctuation.

Keep up the good work!

Alecia Murphy profile image

Alecia Murphy 5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina Author

Hi Discovery2020,

Thank you so much for coming by and commenting! I understand where you are coming from with movies using curse words as opposed to real people. In the movies, it takes me a while to get used to it, but I handle it alot better rather than if I am at work and hear someone blurt it out randomly.

But yes, I believe some of our fellow Americans have a lack of familiarity with the King's English and have no intentions of using the proper vocabulary either.

Thank you so much for your compliments. I am not the best grammar person in the world, but I would like to think if one of my former teachers or professors stumbled across my work I would make them somewhat proud :).

Again, thanks for coming by and sharing your thoughts. I hope you have fun here at HubPages.

PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Juneau, Alaska

@ Charles Hilton... interesting comment. I've long thought that the idea of "swear words" was largely cultural

Alecia Murphy profile image

Alecia Murphy 4 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina Author

I think it's part cultural but some words really don't sound nice in context either.

Lwelch profile image

Lwelch 4 years ago from USA

Amen. I agree. Curse words are passe. Hand out a thesaurus and let's get on with it!

diamond1mo profile image

diamond1mo 4 years ago from Arizona

The English language is like a snake.

Alecia Murphy profile image

Alecia Murphy 4 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina Author

Thanks diamond1mo! I think that's a good analogy.

discovery2020 profile image

discovery2020 4 years ago from TEXAS

Hi Alecia.

Just stopped by to look at your latest comment from a reader and noticed one sent in by Charles a couple of months back.

I find it amusing that this man can speak the King's English so beautifully and do so with over 300 words and never use a curse word, yet is in disagreement with you on the subject matter at hand. Point being, he found no reason to use swear words to express his view.

He detests the idea of calling a filthy word either a bad word, or a curse word and believes there is a place for them in our everyday language based upon some mythological ideas.

He proved in his dissertation that one can actually speak, or write several sentences, if not paragraphs, without the use of curse/bad/swear words.

We simply have to use our heads when talking in public and realize that everyone in ear shot distance is not accepting of these crude words. There could be a minister, priest, rabbi, or just a person that does not want to hear that type of language and we should respect that.

This is why the movie industry gives ratings to films. They try to separate the viewers that are open to anything from those who require some decency in their choice of films.

I am complete open to most anything in the film of my choice, but totally against swearing in public. I say again, the man, or woman that uses curse words in every sentence simply doesn't have an ample supply of decent words in their vocabulary to carry on a conversation.

Alecia Murphy profile image

Alecia Murphy 4 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina Author

I agree discovery2020. It's completely fine in private to say whatever you want whenever and wherever but you have to think about public consciousness. My problem with alot of people is that they think they're doing us a service by cursing in public when they're really just making a fool of themselves. Of course there are those moments where you feel like letting one fly but every other word is ridiculous. Thanks so much for coming by and sharing your insights :)!

nathaniel 4 years ago

Interesting, thoughtful and thought provoking article. I do agree with the basic premise. I would like to reassure you that people will still understand what you mean when calling someone a big head though because the euphemistic sense of the word has been ingrained into popular culture for at least 40 years. See the Lou Reed song "Walk on the Wild Side" (1972) or Leonard Cohen's "Chelsea Hotel No. 2" (1974). Both of these (in)famous songs used said term preceded by the word "giving". As for the shortened form of Richard (however amusing the Nixon idea is) etymologically speaking, the euphemism seems to date back to at least the late 1800's. I am not posting this to be contrarian, but for general edification. However if I did disagree and only posted a simple "f**k that s**t" as a reply (which I would, of course, never do), I fear I would be expressing much more than those three simple, albeit profane, words say in and of themselves. This is seemingly due to the weight these words carry, and the many layers and shades of meaning that our culture has imparted to them. With that aside, I would like to reiterate - good article. Bravo. Keep questioning, thinking and writing. It encourages me to see words of wisdom, common sense, and decency on these here internets.

Alecia Murphy profile image

Alecia Murphy 4 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina Author

Hi Nathaniel,

Thanks for making more than a three word response to my hub. And thank you for the compliment. I appreciate your insights :).

Commander cupcakes 4 years ago

instead of saying the "b" word say "b" with a itch

instead of saying the "h" word say h-e- double hockey sticks

instead of saying mother "f"er say mother trucker

say "s" instead of the word

say darn instead of the "d" word and instead of the "a" word say butt

Alecia Murphy profile image

Alecia Murphy 4 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina Author

That's a plan-Commander cupcakes- thanks!

WD Curry 111 profile image

WD Curry 111 4 years ago from Space Coast

You are a clever writer with a pertinent piece, here. When I was a Voc. instructor for at risk teens, I slowed the deluge by asking, "Do you know another adjective besides 'f*****g'?"

Never mind what I was thinking!

Alecia Murphy profile image

Alecia Murphy 4 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina Author

Thanks WD Curry! I definitely understand where you're coming from!

nurseleah profile image

nurseleah 3 years ago from West Virginia

This article hits home for me, as I've been trying to work on my foul language. I try to keep in mind my dear, precious grandmother (now deceased), who very rarely cursed. When she did, it was one of the more mild curse words, but you knew she was terribly upset if she said "sh*t." Curse language definitely is not appropriate for most circumstances, but I believe if it is going to be used, using it sparingly actually has the most impact. I remember once she was very upset with my grandfather and said the s-word. I was horrified, as was he. He knew he had really hurt her. I want to be more like that, because my cursing has lost all meaning and impact. Thank you for the reminder on this one!

Alecia Murphy profile image

Alecia Murphy 3 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina Author

Hi Leah,

I'm glad you enjoyed reading this. I feel like older generations had a different way of looking at profanity and for the most part, that's my attitude as well. Thanks for coming by and commenting!

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