What do you do with a swearing toddler?

Profanity is in the air, it seems.

In 2010, the United States Supreme Court declared the censorship laws of the FCC regarding “fleeting expletives” unconstitutionally vague. We discussed that decision and the difference between swearing, cussing, and cursing here.

Causing a bigger ruckus than Countdown, the popular American sitcom, Modern Family featured a swearing toddler in their latest episode. In this case, it was not a “fleeting expletive.” The show intentionally included a cursing two-year and bleeped out all swear words. When the show premiered last year, the New York Times wrote about how accurately it reflects contemporary American families, and this storyline is an accurate portrait of what many parents go through. With the profanity conundrum, parents of young children may feel an uncanny sense of familiarity. Just as your three-year-old is learning to form complete sentences, to say words like “almost,” and generally to absorb all language around her, she will accidentally acquire some dirty words.

But, as a parent of a swearing child, what would you do? Even if the parent does not swear in front of the child, there are many other opportunities – around older siblings, or even aunts and uncles, and out in public – for children to learn foul language. On Modern Family, the toddler’s dad cannot stop laughing at the situation. In real life, it is hard to explain to a child what “bad” words are. The child will inevitably ask, Why? And that’s a really hard question. Why are some words “bad” and other words “good”? In some cases we have euphemisms to code otherwise illicit topics. (Learn more about euphemisms here.)

Jimmy Fallon’s segment “Shootin’ the Bleep” mocks the use of bleeps to disguise profanity. He highlights the fact that when a word is bleeped on television, the vast majority of the audience knows what word is being censored. So what’s the point? Obviously the point is to preserve decorum despite what is actually there.

Swear words have been censored for a very long time. Before the 1960s, most printers would not allow them in books (which led to coinages like “fug” in Norman Mailer’s 1948 The Naked and the Dead). The word “profane” literally meant “in front of the temple” in Latin (pro meaning “in front” and fanus meaning “temple). Good and bad words allow us to mark something as outside of the normal realm. In this way, profane words can be a very important tool of communication, if used sparingly. If you rarely swear, when you do, it is taken with intense gravity. The most honest reply to the innocent question – why do we have bad words – might be, We just do.

How would you deal with a swearing toddler?

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  1. Mary Alice -  August 15, 2014 - 8:54 pm

    Be sure to get it on video for the family archives.

  2. jgirl -  December 5, 2013 - 4:28 pm

    what is the point of swearing????????????????

  3. SHayes -  October 24, 2012 - 10:50 am

    I see lots of one year olds cussing now. My niece and 2 nephews and one cousin at 8 months to 4 years started cussing and I wont cuss around them out of respects to their parent(s, but I always seen them cussing in front of them and they expect their child(ren) to not say nothing and spank them when they slip. As I been saying since 2010 Monkey see monkey do monkey hear monkey say to remind my step sis’s that their kids are watching and listening to them.

  4. maya -  March 14, 2012 - 3:13 pm

    I am in middle school and there are a few boys in my math class who drop the f bomb in like every sentence. they don’t even say it under their breath. it’s very irritating.

  5. ozzy -  March 7, 2012 - 3:34 pm

    your a bad word.

  6. joe doe -  March 2, 2012 - 2:02 pm

    my 3 year old is always cussing. good for him

  7. cup-a-cakes -  February 29, 2012 - 7:30 pm

    i wont swear in front of my parents or any respected adult but i swear in front of my friends alot

  8. Sabrina -  February 14, 2012 - 12:12 pm

    Surely the question isn’t about why those words are wrong, but why we use wrong words? Why do we feel the need?
    As a writer, I avoid profanity unless the character I am portraying needs to use those words to show the kind of character they are. As an actress, I avoid swearwords unless they are a vital part of a script. As a person, I never swear if I can help it. But why do people swear at all? That’s something I’d like to read about. I’d also like to read about the etymology of profanity, why those words are as they are; they haven’t got a clear linguistic history.

  9. Carlitos -  February 5, 2012 - 11:37 pm

    If we stop calling them bad words and reacting accordingly, they will just become words. Not even good or really useful words at that, just words. Kind of lame words, actually. Then we’ll probably forget all about them.

  10. Kablooie man -  February 4, 2012 - 7:28 pm

    What I really want to know is the word the toddler girl in the picture is saying. however, If we change the signs to signal that a person is cussing in a word bubble, somebody might figure out a combination to the symbols and the symbols would be pointless. Am I confusing you yet?

  11. Stop Swearing Now -  January 30, 2012 - 8:10 am

    Couldn’t agree with you more. Swearing is inevitable. Kids here a “bleep” on their favorite show they know what it is. We have to give our kids some credit. The question really comes up as to how we manage it. Is profanity going to be o.k. in my family? No one can tell you the answer to this it is a decision as a parent that you have to decide. Once you have set the guidelines than don’t give up. Use the tools to stick to your guns and curb the use of swear words. Otherwise… their may come a day when we really don’t have them “bleeped” anymore.

  12. Wrath -  January 29, 2012 - 6:30 pm

    During family gatherings, my nephews would play their usual games. At times i hear them saying the “F” or the “S” word. I would giggle (with the thought where the heck did they got the word in the first place) and approach them. I would tell them that it’s not nice to hear kids saying such words. My cousins and I grew up with strict rules and family traditions. Now that they have their kids, the lessons are to be pass on to the next generation.

    However with the technology that the kids are using, it’s hard to let them understand that it’s not good to curse. They can see it on TV, on the internet etc. They would think, “many are doing it, why shouldn’t i?”. I can say that it’s a challenge to all parents to provide what is best for their kids.

  13. Queen Sardonic -  January 27, 2012 - 5:02 pm

    Truly, with all the talk about bleeping around here, I find it most annoying when they insert a pause in a song where the word would go. Usually, when this occurs, the artist says the first letter of the word or pronounces half of it, then the rest is drowned out by the music. But that one beginning sound makes the word that they’re using obvious. I guess the only reason they bother taking out the word is to preserve decorum…but then why put that word in the song in the first place?

    ESPECIALLY when the title of the song has profanity in it, and the artist has to come out with a clean version of the song, such as with “Forget You” or “Tonight I’m Loving You”. Isn’t that just more work for yourself?

  14. Lee -  January 25, 2012 - 11:51 am

    I would find out where the child is picking up the words and deal with it from there.

  15. ezra -  January 24, 2012 - 4:53 pm

    Yes, Smoothius, “bleep” indeed is a swear word — if you give it that power. I once worked with a customer who, under frustration, would vehemently spit out “sugar”. Her “sugar” was just as foul as other people’s “shit” — the power was ALL in the intention. A former supervisor in a company that had a stringent prohibition on profanity, in particular “the ‘f-word’” (the utterance of which could find you unemployed) was rather fond of a euphemistic, but nasty sounding, “mother-and-father.” Was she really being any more pleasant for her pseudo-alliterative substitution? She was swearing just as much as any one who uttered the forbidden phrase under their breath. Words have power because we give them power — on both the delivery and reception. Yes, we do live in a society in which some actions are not well received. Such a circumstance calls for sensitivity — not censorship. However you use them, your words have power — use them wisely.

  16. Elise E. -  January 24, 2012 - 9:08 am

    @Annalise – you sould tell her it is wrong and not to repeat every thinh she hears. Or keep her away from that woman! :D

  17. smoothius -  January 24, 2012 - 6:34 am

    so does that mean that ‘bleep’ is now a swear word too?

  18. David roberts -  January 23, 2012 - 2:33 am

    All words have power some a lot some a little, If swear words are used only rarely they have a much stronger effect.
    I am not advocating swearing nor particularly swearing in front of children, what i advocate is if in doubt do a ned flanders, I nearly always use bother rather than b—er, it can really defuse a fraught siotuation and make people laugh, most real swearing is born out of anger or frustration laughter is often the best medicne.

  19. Melanie -  January 22, 2012 - 2:38 pm

    The funny thing is, little kid’s will always swear because no one ever tries to teach them ABOUT swear words. They just say “That’s bad, don’t do that” without ever explaining why or what they mean. People try to brush it under the rug in the name of “decency” and then get all shocked and upset when it starts to show. Another thing people don’t seem to realize is that kids make up their own swears all the time. The other day I was watching a little girl in the grocery store who stumbled and then said quite intently “pooper-scooper!” before rushing off again. I find it funny how people will choose to criticize the language over the intent.

  20. Sus -  January 22, 2012 - 2:06 pm

    Watch the take that George Carlin has about this subject. (RE:”Bad words’) via You Tube. Hilarious and very relevant!!

  21. Bill -  January 22, 2012 - 12:19 pm

    This is a very interesting discussion. Words are fascinating and they bring richness and understanding into our lives. They are more than just the arrangement of 26 letters. They carry meaning and emotion. Words are powerful and can cause hurt to others, sometimes irreversible damage. Words can be valuable. Most of us are taught that we cannot steal other people’s words and claim them as our own. Slander can cause damage to another’s reputation and can bring legal action against those who slander.
    Words can make us successful or cause us to fail. This is the practical side of our speech or writing. There are social norms that are accepted by most society of what is proper speech and what is not. This varies somewhat by circumstance and setting. If we are employed in a position where we meet the public this is very true. There are few places where profanity is accepted when dealing with customers or clients. To learn this early in life is of great benefit. There is probably no easier way to lose a job than have a customer complain of offensive or abusive language. When a person interviews for a job the employer is listening to the way that person expresses him or herself and makes judgments about that person based on that speech. In this respect speech is a window in which other people can judge our education and upbringing.
    So, when it comes to the toddler using profane language, we must ask ourselves where is the child hearing this. If you see this person in the mirror then you need to do some soul searching as to what example you are setting for the child. The example you set can well make the difference. Don’t worry children will learn the words and what they mean. What is important is whether they become a part of their daily vocabulary and become something that will impede success,

  22. Jaz -  January 22, 2012 - 11:25 am

    Children will repeat words they hear, and if parents ignore them saying those words, the child will think it’s okay to say it.
    Punishing kids with hot sauce, soap, and spankings isn’t going to do much good either, because they will begin to fear you.

  23. Toddler mom -  January 22, 2012 - 9:19 am

    As a mother of two young girls, and a long-time swearer, I have to say that some of the posts about physically punishing your child because they use a “bad” word is representative of the actual problem. Words are words, but words have power. Even the lack (or omission) of words impart a level of power. The other day, my darling daughter told me that her “teacher” punished a boy in her class for using a word she found offensive. But it wasn’t the word itself that was offensive, it was his intention. He used the word, which he had learned from his older brother, not knowing what it meant. He just knew it was a “bad” word. To get attention he used the word, and the teacher retaliated with punishment and setting him up as an example of a “bad” boy who uses “bad language.” I can’t remember what the word was, I wish I could. But when my daughter asked me what it meant, I gave her the various meanings and possible uses. She looked puzzled and asked why it was such a bad word. I told her it wasn’t. I then explained that it was, at worst, an example of lazy language. I further explained that some words are used in ways to hurt people’s feelings. It was the fact that the boy had (either intentionally or unintentionally) used it to hurt someone’s feelings that was not appropriate. At 3 my daughter knows it is not nice to hurt someone’s feelings. Punishment without explanantion just fuels the desire to use “bad” words. Try teaching your children before you resort to hot sauce, spanking, or soap. Children are eager to learn, do you really want them to learn fear?

  24. ee33 -  January 22, 2012 - 9:06 am

    so many swear words, you will pick them up at some point.

    there is the f word, the b word, the d word, the s word, and a whole lot of letter words that my younger sister made up, like the ‘j word’ (jail.)

    its their problem.

  25. Amy -  January 22, 2012 - 8:04 am

    Whats wrong with swear words? They are just words. When it gets to the point that I cant watch quality TV because all I hear is BLEEP’s, then I might start cursing. Parents need to control their kids, and censor, not sensor TV from people who can handle it. If you wanna be a censor-parent, then go ahead, but dont ruin TV for me. :P

  26. An Individual -  January 22, 2012 - 7:57 am

    I suppose the real point to swear words is to have some way to express extreme emotions. When they become over used they lose that power. In terms of kids using them I would discourage it on two accounts: 1 elder folk (ex their grandparents) are still likely to find it highly offensive and why cause family issues over something like that and 2 as is mentioned in some of the posts here, young children rarely understand what the word means. As a basic rule of thumb if you don’t know what it means or at least how it should be used (sometimes I use words that I know work in the situation but that I couldn’t give a dictionary definition for) then it shouldn’t be part of your vocabulary. I feel like the intended meaning of many swear words is not their dictionary definition so until they are understood in that context they shouldn’t be used as such. Mean what you say and then no one can call you out on it latter, though occasionally you may have to apologize.

  27. Alex -  January 22, 2012 - 6:53 am

    Dirty language is bad because the Bible considers it out of place. The Bible is the standards by which this country and civilized society is based on. The reason children and parents don’t know why swear words or cursing is bad it’s because as a society we have strayed far from biblical values and a relationship with God. This is why generations after generations grow more violent and perverse. We need to turn back to God’s word for direction in our lives.

    Below is the bible quote that explains why we shouldn’t use dirty language it from the book of Ephesians chapter 4 verse 29.

    Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

  28. bjorn -  January 22, 2012 - 5:40 am

    Hey David on Jan 20 and others if by words you mean certain letters simply put in a specific order are not good or bad that is correct. However, even if only society has designated them good or bad, there are connotations. There is such a thing as politeness which should dictate what you say. Regarding that children will eventually hear them and thus will use them, I know of a person about whom when about 12 or 13, it was said that even if he/she had a mouthful of body excrement would not use the words. It is said that this person has heard such words and knows that meanings still refrains from using them many years later. I consider that a complement to that person.
    By the way, isn’t if also true that most words which are considered bad are used when the person saying them is angry usually to an extreme. Thus, it seems such words are a matter of extreme immaturity.

  29. somebody -  January 21, 2012 - 9:20 pm

    I remember when i first swore. you learn millions of them around the house and school, as the article said. i learned mine from, surprisingly, my grandma i think. i’ve known them for forever but never use them.

  30. Saint Luticriss -  January 21, 2012 - 8:18 pm

    FRAK! This reminds me of one of my all-time favorite shows “Battlestar Galactica”, who made up their own swear word (Frak). It became highly effective. I use “Frak”all the time now when something agitating happens.

    Interestingly enough, my other all-time favorite show “Firefly” also made up there own slew of swears (although some of them are real swears in (Mandarin) Chinese). Now I have a whole dictionary of replacement swears to use without harming more-innocent ears.

  31. Pasque -  January 21, 2012 - 8:03 pm

    If I ever said anything mean to my siblings, my mom washed out my mouth with soap. Swear words are swear words because they are. People know they are even if we don’t have an explanation, and we know we shouldn’t use them. The Bible says not to swear, and anyway, what would the benefit of it be? To show how cool you are that you can use the same word in one sentence 5 times because you don’t have anything articulate to say? Sure. We’ll go with that…

  32. Pokeroots -  January 21, 2012 - 7:45 pm

    You guys should seriously check out Jimmy Kimmels unnecessary censorship it shows that censorship can turn innocent things into something that can be naughty might as well not censor it it would be less work, less hassle, exposed to reality live with it

  33. hehe -  January 21, 2012 - 4:37 pm


  34. zomwolf -  January 21, 2012 - 4:09 pm

    I do not think swearing is necessarily useful. The way most people use swear words shows a lack of the ability to express themselves with more than one offensive word. Also, swearing is not just frowned upon, it is banned in schools. What if you let your child swear at will, and their tongue slips in school? They will be punished, and at who’s fault? Your’s. Do you understand my point, those of you who said swearing should be allowed? No offense intended, by the way.

  35. Jeren -  January 21, 2012 - 3:49 pm

    The problem with profanity is that it discourages articulation. Instead of building and expanding your vocabulary, it allows you to become intellectually lazy. When voicing your frustration, for example, you have keyed the same handful of four-letter discriptors that become hard-wired. I noticed this become a habit when I was a teenager (and it was socially acceptable) but when transitioning to a work or family environment such language was just a liability. Dropped it long ago, but the process took a lot of mental effort (if you swear in your thoughts, for example).

  36. Rosalind -  January 21, 2012 - 3:26 pm

    People wonder where kids get swearing from! It’s not like celebrities, who we see on TV everyday, are setting the best example in the world. Plus, kids pay attention to alot more than we give them credit for, so they can pick it up from anywhere.

  37. Aquophis -  January 21, 2012 - 3:25 pm

    “What do you do with a swearing toddler?”

    How about swearing teenager?

  38. Ed -  January 21, 2012 - 3:02 pm

    The sad thing is, small children DO swear. Some do it on purpose too. I was volunteering at a daycare place and one of the kindies of 1st graders was cussing this poor girl out for sitting next to him at snack time. Later that year, the same boy said to his GIRLFRIEND (what kind of person lets their 1st grader date?) while hugging her, “we should have sex” or “do you want to have sex?” or something similar. You know whats missing in parents these days?…strictness.

  39. whoever -  January 21, 2012 - 2:58 pm

    if you think about it, curse words are only curse words because we make them out to be. a male donkey is a jack ass and a female donkey is an ass. but if you call someone an ass or jack ass, its offensive. but really, if the word wasnt offensive and you called some one an ass or jack ass, it wouldnt mean anything, right?
    its like saying this smart kid is a genius when really hes only the average smart kid. because you say the kid is really smart and a genius, then when he figures out a math problem or something in school, it makes him look smart even though hes not any smarter than anyone else. so really, curse words are just all in our heads.

  40. Jamesis angry -  January 21, 2012 - 2:43 pm

    It`s all about religion. im christian and profane words bother me but one kid at my moms job just says them and laughs and when we tell his mom she laughs and says its “cute” while my father would go crazy and whip that kid up on the spot no matter whose kid it is. Like i said its all about your beleifs.

  41. Anonymous -  January 21, 2012 - 2:36 pm

    I would say that although swear words can be offending, they really are just words. If you call someone an idiot, it would probably offend them more than calling them a bad word because bad words usually don’t mean bad characteristics.

  42. Curly_Chic -  January 21, 2012 - 2:34 pm

    Okay, I hope swearing ends!!! It’s soo uncool and unprofesional! We need to stop!

    I have never sweared in my life! :) Yay me, I am awesome!

  43. Hannah -  January 21, 2012 - 2:29 pm

    I think they censor it because some people don’t know those words. Therefore, even if they know the kind of thing a person is saying, a young child won’t learn it.

  44. curse-like-a-sailor -  January 21, 2012 - 2:23 pm

    Like it or not we live in “societies.” In these “societies” we are judged by: our accomplishments; how we dress; what we drive; where we live; where we work; who our friends are; how we behave; where we were educated; who are families are; how we express ourselves, etc.
    Unfortunately, that is an inherent part of how societies operate and how you advance within them.
    Within societies we do things by agreement, i.e., we have agreed upon the value of money, or that “red” is for stop and “green” is for going; AND we have agreed upon the propriety of certain behaviors and words.
    As parents we are called upon to teach our children how to “get along” in our individual societies. Given that it is our job to guide our children to exercise good judgment and make best use of what their gifts to function optimally within their particular society, it is up to us to teach them what these words are AND teach them to avoid them and tell them the reasons why (it could cost you a friend or opportunity, like going to a birthday party, or sleep over).
    As my moniker (above) expresses, I curse like a sailor, and since the earliest of times, I’ve taught my son what those words are so he can avoid them. I never had to spank him, or carry him out of Walmart like a football (hahaha). I have urged him that there are better words to express oneself and that mommy, for all her ample vocabulary, due to a habit formed in childhood (which is hard to break) has fallen into using these words too liberally and that it is best (for the reasons stated above) to avoid using them and to avoid the habit (much like smoking, or drinking to excess, or drugs, etc.). I am not ashamed to show him where the pit into which I’ve fallen is located and urge him to avoid it. Understanding the losses which stem from it; not the least of which may be the loss of friends, opportunities, advancement, and reputation, so it is best to avoid curse words altogether. “Learn from mommy’s mistakes,” I’ve said. As it stands now, I have a child who does not use curse words (at least rarely and when he does, he catches himself and apologizes right away… and I’m talking about an 8 year old who has been known better since he was 3) and who reminds me every time I do curse that there are myriad other “better” words from which to choose to express myself. Smarter than mommy, that’s for sure!!!

  45. Rebekah -  January 21, 2012 - 1:07 pm

    I don’t agree with censorship of any kind. Swear words have power, because we give them power.

  46. Logan -  January 21, 2012 - 12:16 pm

    I don’t think people should swear on TV, because then kids who aren’t old enough to swear won’t happen across it. But what is ‘old enough to swear’? To me, you are old enough when you understand that swears aren’t funny, or to be said twenty times a day. A swear is an emotional reaction, like laughing and crying, and should be used when you’re feeling real emoption, instead of using it as a literary crutch

  47. jo -  January 21, 2012 - 12:09 pm

    Not a bad article interesting comments

  48. K -  January 21, 2012 - 12:08 pm

    I hardly ever swear and when I do it is mild swear words. One day I slipped infront of my 2 1/2 year old and said shit. Then of course he repeated me. I told him that it is not a nice word and not to use it please and that mommy was bad. So being the cheeky monkey he is he kept repeating it over and over and over. I had a hard time not laughing because he would say it and giggle. Then finally after telling him a few times to please not say it he said it one last time followed by I’m bad mommy.

  49. brian -  January 21, 2012 - 11:49 am

    This subject has always interested me…”curse words” are actually stored in a different part of our brains than regular words. (the same place that controls laughter and other emotions) So when we do swear, it is typically more of an emotional response to a stimulus rather than an excuse to use vulgar language (this of course only holds true with people above the age of 15 or so..) So my question is why chastise people for it? You wouldn’t be offended by a man laughing would you? Just a thought.

  50. Emily -  January 21, 2012 - 8:51 am


  51. Tdawg -  January 21, 2012 - 8:02 am

    I guess I’m just old-fashioned, even though I haven’t even reached 50.
    Swearing on television is in extremely poor taste.
    Where are our bounds of decency?
    Would it be appropriate for an elementary teacher to tell her students to “Sit your a$$es down” or “Shut your God damned mouths”?
    Would it be polite for the grocery store clerk to say, “Here’s your f’n change!”

  52. Paula -  January 21, 2012 - 5:25 am

    When my children were little and picked up “bad” words from others I explained to them that those were not polite words to use and sat them down and taught them at least 5 other words to use instead of the “bad” one. They are grown and cuss like sailors when they want to but at least they have an excellent vocabulary and know when and how to substitute all of the “bad” words for “good” ones.

  53. barbaranne -  January 21, 2012 - 4:56 am

    cyberquill: ‘interesting’ that you are only upset about blurring of images of disrobing ‘hot chicks’. I guess you wouldn’t be upset if they didn’t blur images of ‘not hot’ chicks.

    On the topic of swearing kids: I have to agree that swear words, like the rest of our language, morph with time. What were ‘unspeakable words’ when I was a child, are part of daily language today. On the other hand, what are classified as swear words today were totally unknown to me when I was younger.
    The first time my five year old came home from pre-school with ‘f***ing sh**, I explained to him that we didn’t use those words in our family. He seemed to accept that explanation, and all was well for a couple of days until I heard him say f***. I headed out to again explain to him that this was an unacceptable word in our family, when he looked at me, realisation suddenly appearing on his face, as he said, “I only said half of it!”. It just goes to show that he really was simply copying what he was hearing elsewhere, with no understanding of the meaning whatsoever.
    He did not use this sort of language again, however, until reaching his late teens, at which point he determined for himself that words only mean what we determine them to mean, and that any word can be be substituted as a swear word. I can’t really argue with that logic, as I know people who have actually done that – had certain words they have used themselves as their own ‘designated’ swear words, but unoffensive to pretty well anyone else.

  54. Deborah -  January 21, 2012 - 4:25 am

    There is nothing cute about a foul word coming from innocent lips. It is a parental responsibility to teach the good and separate it friend the bad. My family of origin did not use profanity. The family I raised did not use profanity. My two children with families do not have profanity in their homes. I resent the thought that this is the modern family in today’s world. Home I’d to protect us from the world. To be a refuge from the world, until we are prepared to know how to separate the good and the bad when living in the world.

  55. Nick COLE -  January 21, 2012 - 3:02 am

    While a naughty or obstreperous child ought to be spanked – do not do so in public or some interfearing adult may well calll the police for here it is absolutely illegal to spank bairns. One may only “explain” or “reason” with them. How doth one reason with a two year old?

  56. Another Person -  January 20, 2012 - 9:59 pm

    I totally agree with Ima Jean Neus. The intent behind the word is what truly makes the word a ‘bad’ word. Words are just words.
    I like your pun, by the way Ima Jean Neus. Very clever.

  57. Elijah. V. -  January 20, 2012 - 9:50 pm

    One thing that is another cause, is from these video games with swearing in them. The 14 year old brother is playing Modern Warfare 3 without noticing that his little sibling is watching and hearing what’s coming from the television. Plus the parents are allowing this stuff to get into their children’s ears and minds without even knowing it! If I heard my (future) child(ren) (when that sort of thing happens, when I’m a legal and responsible) say or do something profane, either a good “pop” in the mouth or on the hind, should set it straight. At least a good little talking to.

  58. Yoko -  January 20, 2012 - 7:03 pm

    Great opinion, but I was expecting an explanation for why profanity is considered to be wretched.

  59. Annie -  January 20, 2012 - 6:46 pm

    Much ado about nothing. Swear words are just words. How and where you use them is the key. We don’t swear in front of the kids, but then every time I pick them up from school or take them to the playground there are always bound to be older kids, swearing up a storm. What’s a parent to do, put earplugs in the kids’ ears? Of course not. Kids will hear bad words. That’s life. Kids will also use bad words sooner or later. That’s life too. Our job is to teach them when to not use those words. I don’t care if my kids swear among their friends at a party, as long as they don’t do it in front of grandma at the Thanksgiving table.

  60. Joe Buge -  January 20, 2012 - 6:41 pm

    Once I was just biking around my town and heard at least 10 cuss words from people under the age of 5. And some of them were Sl**

  61. yayRayShell -  January 20, 2012 - 3:43 pm

    Say that those are not nice to say and you will get in trouble for it because they are really bad words that are like swords and they will see that swords are sharp or whatever and stope (hopefully).

  62. TG -  January 20, 2012 - 3:22 pm

    It seems to me the origin of bad words may have been special words that were expressed outside of a religious institution, since the early history of western civilization indicates religious piety to be of paramount importance for those who followed such activities of religion. Yes, there were atheists and multifarious faiths within some societies, but for those who were in places such as eastern Europe in the 1400s, the following of any religious rules were administered through didactic deterrence by the Catholic Church. In knowing this, any words that were prohibited inside a “temple” or cathedral may have been used outside said structures. These may have been the first curse words, as declared by a religious office or group of offices, such as high members of the clergy. In reality, one can infer that such words could be eradicated from the “bad words” list, however, since many civilizations have their own religious stipulations and practices, swear words have changed for different places on the map. Even to this day, people are trained to have vocabularies devoid of such decrepit words, in their own culture and civilization, that if a large amount of people were to initiate a vulgarity proclamation hour, those people would be considered pariahs of society, where ever that may be.

  63. Roxanne -  January 20, 2012 - 3:07 pm

    Two comments:
    I once inadvertently let my daughter, about ten years old at the time, hear someone recounting the experiences of soldiers in Vietnam. Naturally the quotations were sprinkled heavily with eff this and eff that, but it was crucial that the speaker not leave them out, since he was trying to convey to us how soldiers react in the midst of fighting. After bringing her out of the room (watched by dozens of eyes – it was quite embarrassing) I talked seriously with her about why people swear: sometimes they can’t think of any other way to say they are angry or frustrated, but we should always try our best to find words that aren’t swear words, because then people will understand better why we are angry or frustrated – and of course we want people to know that. That also allowed me to talk about how hard it is to be brave, the way a soldier is, and how we expect them to do things that we cannot imagine. I don’t know what effect that had on her, but she was a pretty clean-mouthed teenager, at least around me. I wish I could practice what I preached…
    Second point: words sure do change over time in the intensity of their meaning. I remember distinctly when saying someone or something sucked was really bad – it was definitely a subcategory of one of George Carlin’s words. I still can’t get over that people use it in ordinary English without a moment’s thought.

  64. Jon -  January 20, 2012 - 2:14 pm

    I think the last time I was offended by an obscene word was in my pervious incarnation as Queen Victoria.

  65. zomarie -  January 20, 2012 - 2:10 pm

    i once heard my 6 yr old bro cuss after that the got his ds taken away when little kids cuss they need to have something taken away or get timeout

    one sad thing is that at my middle school you hear cussing all the time sometimes form teachers thats the worst
    people need to think before they speak around people

  66. Alyianna -  January 20, 2012 - 12:55 pm

    I think the bleeping is better. For example, when you’re watching something, and have no idea there is going to be a bad word. What if your child is watching? Then even if you as a parent know what the word is, your child won’t.

    I agree, people shouldn’t swear it all.

    I’m going to try not to swear at all. I want my children to grow up without swear words. If they use a bad word, I will tell them not to use it. That’s what my parents did when I learned the word “darn it”. Not exactly a bad word, but still something you should stay away from. I even consider the word “butt” as a word not to use.

  67. Vicaari -  January 20, 2012 - 12:53 pm

    Unfortunately, it is a very difficult article to answer, perhaps “How would you deal w/ a swering toddler?” especially when I know that all my writings is/are monitored daily, profusely, profoundly and severely w/t any justified reasonings but w/ a view to, in this peculiar patriarchy system, show superiority for the purpose of control a particular race, class, colour….

    That which didn’t began in the beginning of my taking up and enjoying contributing to this blog, soon they began their way of manipulating: the comments in two colours–blue and RED among others, I notice. After my submissions, the blue coloured one remain same, while the RED changes adding one more. It means something. The ppl, the BIG BROTHERS, that do the monitoring intercepting, inspecting and if it’s okay according to their way allowing … perhaps. Or maybe what is they intended me to see is not there… but…. Then when the time comes they will take care of all, for good. Such is the place I live now. Or it is may be the time (of modern technology). Or whatever. I am alone and not that educated w/ highly educted them, they know how to go about doing things their own way. So it would not matter whatever I say it would not be allowed, perhaps. The BIG BROTHER would not allow it at all.

    Once I remeber someone did mention something in writing against me. It is good, I thought then, as it showed my writing is read… or something, although I was not receiving any feed back like @ the very first couple of them. Now I need to state, however, provided the said writer is/was genuine and not belonging to the above big brother.

    However, just to let you know I, wmn of 64, don’t swear.
    I have only one young son who too like me (Mine current sad situation is from my school, University of Toronto, I am a part time student in the said institution; I went back there to understand someone very near and dear to me through study) goes through a very difficult time (& his is from a family member) & once in while blurts out that what he knows should not, for he apologizes instantly.

    Thank you for giving me the opportunity.

  68. chris -  January 20, 2012 - 12:15 pm


  69. ryan -  January 20, 2012 - 12:02 pm

    I find it incredibly ironic that there is so much poor grammar and spelling from people who visit dictionary.com

  70. Supergoat -  January 20, 2012 - 12:01 pm

    Swear words goes back to the so called puritan age. Where any thing that was spoken about the human body parts was absolutely forbidden, including their function, what they looked like, what they discharged, etc.. When they were talked about behind closed doors, in forbidden books, etc.the slang expressions for these things arose; thus the so called swear words. These words thusly brought about the highest insult by telling someone about something and then referencing the appropriate body part in slang expression. This has become the ultimate insult today. Lots of people are still living in that puritian age where anything about the human body is nasty, thus we have swear words.

  71. Calvin -  January 20, 2012 - 10:18 am

    sort of off topic, but I usually wouldn’t even NOTICE the swear word if it wasn’t for the loud “BLEEP!” (on television)

  72. Palock -  January 20, 2012 - 10:01 am

    Most “bad” words used to be just regular words. “Ass” is a “bad” word but it is the actual name of a donkey, but more commonly said as a part of the human body. “Dick” is a male’s name, a cock is a rooster, “Hell” is where Christians believe that bad people who don’t deserve to go to Heaven go to, and I am sure there are many other words like those that I just listed. I can’t understand why in today’s society those words were turned into words that are associated with “people on the streets,” “people that are nothing,” and many other negative things.

  73. Cece -  January 20, 2012 - 10:00 am

    I’m amazed that no one mentions the anger and violence from which most swear words derive. That is why they are “bad” to me. They communicate feelings that do not promote understanding and cooperation. And the way in which they are generally used in conversation is as meaningless filler, where every other adjective or adverb is a swear word, or to express anger or intense negative feeling. As filler, they are useless noise. As anger intensifiers, they are bully words. We teach our children not to bully with swear words or other insults because we want words to have a positive purpose of communicating ideas that serve them well in society. I taught my toddlers to use language for an edifying, positive purpose and therfore certain words or phrases were not to be aired in our home. It never took more than just saying, “that’s not how we talk inthis home.”

  74. Handgrin -  January 20, 2012 - 9:43 am

    We go to such trouble to protect children from these words and then they go into the outside world and it is everywhere. Is it our job as parents to hide the world from our children or teach them what to make of it. What is the point! What are we really doing here? Are we really do good here?

  75. Alicia -  January 20, 2012 - 9:03 am

    I believe that it’s inappropriate and unintelligent to use profane words and if I heard my child or any child close to me (niece, nephew, little cousin, etc.) sweraing then I would simply say, “Swearing is stupid, you’re smart so don’t swear.”

    And, of course, I’ll also have to explain to them that people who swear are not stupid, the act of swearing is stupid so if you do not want people to believe that you engage in idiotic behavior, don’t engage in idiotic behavior… of course I would have to say that in a way that a child would comprehend…

  76. Brad -  January 20, 2012 - 8:18 am


    I share your frustration, it’s hard to find anywhere where a larger part of the populace has any decent understanding of English.

    But another thing that pisses me off is when you aren’t sure how to spell a word, and somebody tells you, “Look in the dictionary, that’s what it’s for!” The problem with that is, if you don’t know how to spell the damn word, you won’t be able to find it in the dictionary. So please, don’t berate them on their inability to use a dictionary, but rather on their literary incompetence.

  77. David -  January 20, 2012 - 8:15 am

    So, those of you who think you just explain the word’s meaning to the toddler might want to consider the mind-blowing experience you are suggesting. Some words are restricted from their hearing and prohibited from their using because they mean concepts the the child can’t or (to be well balanced) shoudn’t have to understand – like the f-word. Anyone who has ever had to have “THE TALK” with their child will tell you there is a time to, and not to, discuss those concepts.
    Other words are contextually inapproriate, and small children are unable to judge context or restrain impulse, so we prevent exposure to those words as much as posible and forbid use, rather than try to make children figure out the complications at a young age. Potty words, etc.
    Butt, poop, pee, – except when needed to discuss bodily functions in the bathroom, none were allowed in general conversation with my 4 toddlers, because they lacked the judgement to know if they were offending or not.
    Still other words are intended to be disrespectful, hurtful, pejoritive, or malicious. What good parent teaches their child to be intentionally hurtful?
    Yes, some words are “bad” because words carry meaning, and meaning is not morally nuetral.

  78. scratchPad -  January 20, 2012 - 8:05 am

    I have five adult children, and I still believe in shock value. I actually figured it out when my niece, who was quite a bit younger (I was something like 19-ish), called someone a c**t. I actually felt bad after I told her what the word was mostly used for, and why (probably a lot of it incorrect, but still, close enough).

    It doesn’t always work, though; kids are usually smarter than adults think. But I do believe, as a parent, in making a strong effort not to be shocked when we hear swear words from kids. Because if they didn’t use it for shock value in the first place, then they’ll know now. And soon they’ll be wanting to shock you. Or get even smarter; our son started using the word “anus” instead of the usual “bad” word. I tried to tell him that his friends may think him smart, but it still sounds as though he wanted to offend.

    The most ridiculous thing was when an American friend was checking something in my Collins’ dictionary and came across the most common swear word in English these days (the f-bomb). He said, “there are no words like that in dictionaries in my country. I instructed him to pick up a Webster’s that was printed later than 1960 or so. Perhaps my estimate was too early, but my 1994 Webster certainly has it. The incident in this story took place ca. 10 years earlier.

    Personally I watch my language in certain crowds (like a public American website), and usually I do not swear personally at all, but if I intend to quote verbatim, that mostly means just that, swearing included. Never seemed to hurt the most important of my contacts.

  79. David -  January 20, 2012 - 7:39 am

    Another thing that’s interesting is the constantly-changing evolution of words that are considered “bad.” For example, in 1972 (only forty years ago), comedian George Carlin was ostracized for the vulgarity of his bit entitled “Seven Dirty Words.” Carlin chose the seven worst words in the English language, emphasizing that “those are the ones that’ll infect your soul.” The backlash from this bit, including his arrest, proved his point on the words. Two of the words on the list, however, are “tits” and “piss.” The first has gradually become less offensive over time, and while considered at least slightly vulgar, it’s pretty much hit or miss as to whether or not someone considers it swearing. “Piss,” however, is barely considered a swear word at all, whether referring to anger or urinating. The word “pee” was derived from taking the first letter of this word, just as people are increasingly using the term “eff” (‘f’) as a more polite version of the infamous F-word nowadays. And just forty years ago, “piss” was considered one of the worst words in the English language. The change in societal acceptance makes you wonder how one can consider any words to be inherently bad at all.

  80. Annie2220 -  January 20, 2012 - 7:28 am

    This is way off topic but reading some of these comments and seeing the spelling errors, I don’t mean the obvious typos, but the misspelled words makes me wonder if people realize this website is called DICTIONARY. com! Wow!

  81. A Mom -  January 20, 2012 - 7:22 am

    I never believed in the concept of “bad” words. Words are descriptive and used to paint a picture or convey an emotion. I simply taught my children that certain words were inappropriate. They should pay close attention to the language they were using. Unless they knew the full meaning of a word, how to use it correctly, who it might offend or hurt, and to take full responsibility for what they were saying, then certain words were not allowed.

  82. Sylvie -  January 20, 2012 - 7:22 am

    Elise E. How old are you, exactly? You don’t know any swear words or their meaning? I hope your sister has stopped giving people the middle finger or someone will show her what it means and it won’t be pretty. By the way, it’s “taught,” not “tought”.

  83. Smit Sharma -  January 20, 2012 - 7:09 am

    @ Book Worm: If they’re going to school they’re still growing up

  84. Kathy -  January 20, 2012 - 6:42 am

    A toddler plays with words and parrots them back. There will be no long term recall of a bad word if there is not repetitive exposure to them. The onus is on the parent to be sure the little one hears appropriate things especially at home. It is not appropriate to punish a toddler.The word and its use will be forgotten but memory of the punishment may remain.

    “Profanity is the effort of a weak mind to express itself forcibly.” There is a satisfying proper word to express emotions or meaning if time is taken to find it. With repeated use the suitable word will come to mind more easily and reflect an honest response. Therein lies satisfaction. Help your children to play a game with words. If they use a vulgar expression ask them what they are really trying to communicate and be prepared both to listen and to suggest alternative words. Remember words have power to both hurt and heal.

  85. Anonymous -  January 20, 2012 - 6:27 am

    I think that the reason that “swear” words are considered “bad” is because people created them to be bad. They were most likely considered bad, in my opinion, because people used them to insult others. They were created to be more harsh and “rude” versions of the original words so that people could use them to express their anger, stress, etc. In a way, to put it simply, I believe they were developed as “bad” because they were made to be more rude to vent one’s anger, which is why I find it ironic that parents are telling their children that they can’t vent.

  86. Ima Jean Neus -  January 20, 2012 - 6:18 am

    My brother grew up with Tourette’s Syndrome, which is a neurological affliction that causes the person swear involunarily (among other things). As a result, profanity hardly has any meaning to our family in terms of being offended or needing to censor anything. I think that when it is used to show disprespect for someone intentionally, then it should be considered offensive. Also there is a time and a place for swearing. But having said that, swearing can show a person’s intense emotion or for emphasis. I think we just need to use our heads when determining what the intention is when we hear profanity. Perhaps the worse thing about swearing is that it shows a lack of imagination or vocabulary. But the notion of swearing being unethical in itself is the biggest $%#@ load of $&*$ I have ever heard!

  87. Abby -  January 20, 2012 - 3:29 am

    I would just calmly explain to them that they shouldn’t repeat those kinds of words in public because some people will get offended by them (they hurt their feelings or make them feel bad). But also that I honestly have no problem with them using them at home amongst close friends or relatives, so long as they’re in an appropriate context and suited to the word’s meaning as you would expect any other kind of word to be used (e.g. not saying “cat” in every other sentence, because it loses it’s meaning and isn’t an appropriate thing to do). Kids aren’t idiots and you can’t just not explain things to them and hope it goes away, you just need to explain it to them in language that they can understand. If they see you doing or saying something that you don’t allow them to, you need to have a valid reason. Hold your kids to the same standards you hold yourself to, and explain to them the justification for your views. I’m kind of disturbed by the number of commenters who think physical violence is an appropriate punishment for saying a word. Seriously, just talk it out and give them a hug.

  88. Rustgold -  January 20, 2012 - 2:48 am

    Quote : carson on January 19, 2012 at 4:38 pm
    “This article is awful! I thought there actually was a point to this.”

    I agree; this blog is without value.

    On TV blipping, in Australia, they seem to deliberately do it for shock value, and to highlight the use of swear words. Instead of the blip, I think a 1 second silence around the prohibited word would be more effective.

  89. PAULA -  January 20, 2012 - 2:34 am

    I told my children they could not use words if they did not know their meaning. They understood that . . that is the point of language-communication . .

  90. Danielle -  January 20, 2012 - 12:57 am

    Sorry to the majority of the posters here… Theyre only swear words because we think they are. They are just words. They have “power” because we have given that to them. A swear is just another word. Stop making such a big deal of it. its not a taboo for petes sake.
    The F word is far less damaging than someone saying someone else is stupid, or an idiot, or a moron. THOSE words should be considered vulgar.

  91. Will -  January 20, 2012 - 12:47 am

    Swear words are only swear words because society attempts to avoid them. It’s a self-perpetuating cycle. Other than the fact that people don’t say it in formal conversation, what is inherently rude about the word “f*ck”? It can have sexual connotations, but it is just as often used as a sort of “OW!”.

  92. Julia -  January 20, 2012 - 12:43 am

    Swearing makes feel horrible. A terrible person. Anyone feels the same here? ;(

  93. jim -  January 19, 2012 - 11:53 pm

    Reginald (about 10 comments down), please turn in your thesaurus. I’ve never before contributed to these comment strings, but yours prompted me. Constitutional rights protect citizens from an imposing government, not parents or guardians. I truly hope that you never achieve the latter status because that child would never learn how to properly function within society. You must understand that while the first amendment protects speech from prosecution or censorship from the GOVERNMENT, that any statement, public or private, can NOT be insulated from civilian consequence. For example, if someone were to claim that a toddler has a constitutional right to swear and not be reprimanded by his/her parents I can, and should presume that person to be an idiot. That would be a consequence of that rhetorical statement just as parental admonishment for a child swearing would be.

    As for others on the criticism of the bleeping on the FCC controlled “public airwaves,” please understand that I’m most likely on your side against governmental over-regulation. But I also think that the intent is to prevent toddlers, youths, and any other of the pristine from adopting this “new” vocabulary. I don’t think that your arguments of, “we all know…” will hold much influence within this discussion.

  94. Rence -  January 19, 2012 - 11:30 pm

    well, i started out early with my kids…that’s what i believed in…start teaching them values early and you spare yourself the trouble of rectifying too much…at age 2 they know that those *bleep* words are bad (yes i tell them staright up AND WE DON’T USE ‘EM AT ALL)…then when the time comes they ehar it, they have been brainwashed into it being bad (the again i tell them also the truth why it IS bad to begin with)…really friends it’s starting them out with the lesons early in life…

  95. Will Smith -  January 19, 2012 - 10:33 pm

    I swear like a sailor. It’s like sprinkling zesty spices over my vocabulary salad.

  96. Robin -  January 19, 2012 - 10:21 pm

    I disagree with this last part. Using swear words sparingly to make your point may sometimes prove effective on an illiterate person, not necessarily to prove your point but to cause them to take your present emotion seriously. However, in my own personal experience when a person is conversing with me and chooses a swear word to demonstrate the seriousness of his expression I cannot help but roll my eyes slightly. I think “okay, you’re serious, I get it, but you’re being childish,” and I find it even more difficult to take them seriously. It does not take a big person to swear. It does not take an intelligent person to swear. It does not even take an adult to swear. It is my opinion that the best way to prove your point is with as few words as possible, making each word count, being clear and concise. There are so many good words out there to use that will knock peoples’ socks off and get there attention much better and more effectively than swearing. Using good English and proving your point without swearing will gain higher regard than proving you can cuss just as well as any prat with his pants around his ankles.

  97. Book Worm -  January 19, 2012 - 10:17 pm

    Even if they grow up with out them, they’ll learn some at school.

  98. Mercy -  January 19, 2012 - 10:03 pm

    It strikes me as interesting that this article has no mention of Anglo-Saxon history and the censorship of the language in early Britain.

  99. Leroy Jenkins -  January 19, 2012 - 9:47 pm

    For the first few times inform them that they are innapropriate and should not be used because they are ‘mean’, becoming increasingly firm for each repeated offense. Once it becomes a regular thing, say after the third warning, resort to punishment.
    I personally support sharp slaps to punish children, but soap should work just as well.

  100. wyatthunter -  January 19, 2012 - 8:43 pm

    tell him the meaning of what hes said them give him a hug.

  101. NDD -  January 19, 2012 - 8:20 pm

    With amusement, but advise the kid that the use of the words might hurt others.

  102. Annalise -  January 19, 2012 - 7:25 pm

    I have a three year old toddler who says she gets all the swearing from her dad’s roomate.What should I do?????

  103. Tony Salimi -  January 19, 2012 - 7:06 pm

    Awesome analysis! Personally, I like the term “vulgarity”, as it means “of the people”, as opposed to of the hoity-toity elites. I especially like the part at the end of the article which mentions a positive use for vulgar language.

  104. herald -  January 19, 2012 - 6:58 pm

    ductape and bennidryl

  105. Annie J -  January 19, 2012 - 6:49 pm

    I don’t know why we have bad words. But when did they originate. But I don’t know how I would deal with a swearing kid or toddler. Do you know? What is the real answer of how you should deal with a swearing toddler because I would LOVE to know.

  106. admin_ecc -  January 19, 2012 - 6:31 pm

    Bad words are a barometer to the soul.

  107. Boris -  January 19, 2012 - 6:26 pm

    I have also watched that episode from Modern Family. I hope in the next episode cam and mitch can fix that. I guess the everybody should help each other to tell the kid that it is bad and should be substituted asap.

  108. Rosalind -  January 19, 2012 - 6:24 pm

    The only reason to swear is if you have nothing good to say, or just nothing to say at all. This is what society has come to: worrying about whether their 3 year old is gonna swear. I find that outrageous.

  109. Don -  January 19, 2012 - 6:16 pm

    I bet the author wrote this whole article just for the last line.

  110. Tia Mya -  January 19, 2012 - 5:44 pm

    I would punish them of course!

  111. DictionFan -  January 19, 2012 - 5:43 pm

    Swearing is not really good, for it is the trash of the tongue, but some might argue that not using these might mean we have a limited vocab or we don’t wan’t to be ‘cool’.
    The toddler will eventually become an adult, so leave the child be, just tell him/her that it is an inappropriate word for ‘now’.
    Leave it be inappropriate depending on its severity.

  112. CJM -  January 19, 2012 - 5:33 pm

    I’m almost positive that I’m the only parent, or even person for that matter, in the world that thinks this way, but the way I see it, what society and mainstream call “bad” words are just what they are — words. There are no such things as bad words, only people who take offense to certain words. Even now in my adulthood, I wonder why that is. Also, “bad” words are called “vulgar”, coming from the Latin word “vulgare” meaning “of the people”. Common people in Europe in Medieval times used what we call “swear” words today (they may have known them as “oaths”), and when the nobility and those higher up in the society started using them the commoners weren’t allowed to anymore, but when the commoners did use them, the nobility and royalty and higher class viewed them as “bad” words simply because they were used by the people beneath them. I wonder how many people know that?

  113. 2nd -  January 19, 2012 - 5:31 pm

    You tell it to not say it any more.

  114. Nshera -  January 19, 2012 - 5:10 pm

    I would give the kid a spanking and I would listen to him very well. If the kid swore again, I would give them a harder spanking. I’d would spank him till they got it! :-D

  115. PJ Elliott -  January 19, 2012 - 5:04 pm

    I wouldn’t “deal” with them at all. There’s no logical reason for us to consider these words as inherently bad, especially if adults are allowed to say them whenever they please. They’re not magical phrases that turn you into a newt, they’re words. You form them by breathing and moving your lips. They’re completely harmless, and teaching a child that they’re wrong is redundant, stupid, and irresponsible.

  116. MsBookworm909 -  January 19, 2012 - 5:04 pm

    “He highlights the fact that when a word is bleeped on television, the vast majority of the audience knows what word is being censored. So what’s the point?”

    That’s what I keep saying! XD

    Really, sometimes, they let you hear the first sound and the last the last sound in the word, and they don’t even blur their mouths, so it’s quite easy to know what they are saying. Also, for many expressions, you know what swear someone will say even when they don’t say it! (Ex. Shut the **** up. XD Everyone knows what that word is, or they can at least guess!)

  117. Jason A Kelly -  January 19, 2012 - 4:52 pm

    First!! (Only joking)

    Though I’ve done my best in this comment box, as I’m no expert, I can’t ensure you all the information I’ve posted is correct and so ‘learn’ at your own risk. As I’ve premonished [-ed not really meant to be there] you, I shan’t take responsibility for any anger this post might have caused you, but regardless of warning it’s probably all correct so I’d recommend you read anyway. Enjoy and please don’t be hesitant with your queries, thank you! (Feel free though to correct any errors [I like to learn from mistakes].)

    Interesting, quite a few words/phrases are frowned upon by general society and ‘swear-words’ (taboo’s) do seem to be the most ostracised of the lot, even though many of them mean the same as words that aren’t considered as equally ‘bad;’ e.g. s**t is the same substance as excrements, faeces, manure; f**k is relatively the same process of fornication, coitus, copulation, etc. The reasons for why there are many that despise these words are probably because of how it was ‘wired’ into them as toddlers of how ‘bad’ they are by their parents.

    Gradually, having endured many punishments for using them, those words simply disappear from the child’s vocabulary and them themselves begin to associate it as ‘bad’ in an indirect way; i.e. the telling off they received from their guardian was, from their prospective bad, thus using swear-words to be inflicted by castigations would be ‘bad.’ Operant-classical conditioning actively, foundered by B.F. Skinner, is what this learning process is known as in psychology.

    Whoever first started this ‘domino-generation’ affect I don’t know, but it seems to be the reason. Perhaps it’s why parents can’t always offer I justified reason why a used ‘swear-word’ is bad when other, non-detested, words mean the same. ‘Swear-words’ do perhaps have a beneficial side, as ‘dictionary.com’s’ already delineated. Someone who rarely uses a frowned upon word can usually exalt much more expression when used to subdue someone else; i.e. It’d let the recipient person know truly how one is feeling and so settle their dispute in submission, thus avoiding a fight. Of course, that’s just one example of many.

  118. carson -  January 19, 2012 - 4:38 pm

    This article is awful! I thought there actually was a point to this. BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!

  119. Nascent -  January 19, 2012 - 4:34 pm

    Sorry, but I don’t find ‘we just do’ to be an impressive answer, doubly so coming from a website regarded as being amongst the most knowledgeable out there on topics of the English language. Everything, every idea and action, has roots that can be traced culturally and psychologically. So let’s dig, shall we?

    The obvious nature of some profanity is that it deals with topics — sex and human waste, predominantly — that are generally considered unpleasant or undesired for conversation. It would be no surprise, then, to find that the distinction about these topics originated in socio-economic class disparities in ancient times. If you were well-to-do way back in the day you didn’t talk about “servant things” like cleaning out the bucket (you know which bucket I mean) or “getting it on” with a loose woman of the streets; doing so blurred the line between the moneyed / aristocratic / powerful and their “lessers” and could lead to bad ideas like all people being fundamentally the same, social and fiscal mobility, and human rights. So it simply wasn’t done. Have to enforce the class system, after all.

    But the idea that some language is not only crude but “bad” in the sense of morally unwholesome almost certainly comes, surprise, from the idea that some language is morally superior. The way I understand it the term ‘vulgar’ has its origins in the days of the Dark / Middle Ages, having a meaning tied to “the common folk” — for my fellow word nerds, yes, ‘vulgate’ (as in the Latin Bible translation) has a similar origin as the ‘versio vulgata’ or “common version”, compared to the old Latin versions it was translated from. Here we can see in the language of the day the concept of language supremacy being built: Latin was held superior to the common tongue and old Latin, being perceived as closer to the original languaging of the Christian scriptures and thus more venerable, was yet more superior (for those who had access to it). This notion of a “holy language” can be seen reflected even to this day on the use of the Latin Mass.

    And, by process of elimination, if there was a church-sanctioned “holy” language, mastered chiefly by the religio-politico aristocrats of the day, then the brackish squawking of the unwashed and (generally regarded as) heathen masses was SURELY not far from the brimstone hiss of a devil’s tongue, right?

    Fact is, it’s human nature to judge people by how they speak — anyone who’s ever read tips for a job interview knows this to be an inescapable fact. Should we really be surprised if, over time, that natural prejudice would snowball and take on a vague, almost inexplicable ethical twist? No, we shouldn’t. Am I saying you should punish your bl**ping toddler for perpetuating a notion grounded in social elitism and bigotry? Not really, no. But when they’re old enough, teach them to respect people who are different from themselves, even if it’s hard.

    How do you #@&$ing like me now? xD

  120. KATHLEEN -  January 19, 2012 - 4:31 pm

    Haha that is hilarious. That is true i do see a lot of swearing kids on tv nowadays. Well, i read in books that parents and teachers literally wash the kid’s mouth with soap. :( But it seems like that method works…

  121. Julia -  January 19, 2012 - 4:24 pm

    the old I’m going to wash your mouth with soap thing usually does the trick. Or using the consequence of no dessert.

  122. Doug -  January 19, 2012 - 4:06 pm

    I’d take his/her iPhone away.

  123. ? -  January 19, 2012 - 4:03 pm

    I never saw ANY kid under the age of 6 using a swear word…

  124. Christina Henry -  January 19, 2012 - 3:59 pm

    My child is cursing ! What should i do? She is a 9 years old she got to skip a grade she is so smart. Now she is in 5th grade. She doesn’t curse at school. I want help and please do not come to my house plesae do not

  125. Bob -  January 19, 2012 - 3:59 pm

    The derivation of profane presented in the article is not actually correct. Profane, according to personal memory and the sources cited by the article, comes from “pro” and “fanum” – “in front of” and “temple” respectively. “Fanus” is a completely different word meaning “profit.” Some confusion can arise due to the adjective “profanus,” truly derived from “fanum” but giving the appearance of “fanus.”

  126. Sam -  January 19, 2012 - 3:48 pm

    Well my parents just place hot sauce on our tongues when we began to swear… now we never swear.

  127. Justin -  January 19, 2012 - 3:35 pm

    Fascinating. I’ve wondered about this a lot myself. It seems to come down to manners. I wouldn’t fart, use the table cloth to wipe my face, or cuss in front of my grandma or at a high society party. But I may do all of those things in front of my close friends.

  128. kathy -  January 19, 2012 - 3:35 pm

    At dinner my 3/12 years old son said in a calm voice the F word , as all of us sat with our mouths agape my mother was shaking her head for us not to say anything as he must have heard the word someplace and had no clue what he was saying. We decided to ignore him, my husband doesn’t swear, never heard my parents say this word and I had never said this word. He would say this word at least once a day and never in the appropriate manner, just for a reaction from us. After a month he asked me “Why when Jeanie (the neighbor girl) called her grandma a “dirty Fer” she got spanked and nothing happens when I say it” I lied and said I didn’t know what it meant, I figured a 3 year old wouldn’t remember this and I didn’t want to explain this to a 3 year old. This was 40 years ago, my mother would be 101 today and my son has no memory of this but I think he occasionally says the F word.

  129. Anna -  January 19, 2012 - 3:28 pm

    I personally have no qualms about swearing, and if I had young children, I probably would not introduce them to swearing, but if they asked me about using them or what they mean, i wouldn’t be bothered. The children at the school i attend, a junior high school, swear loudly, severely, and often. I am perfectly alright with it. If adults swear, then it is their own fault if they are angry with children for swearing. And i see absolutely nothing wrong with these words anyhow, as they are only substitues for more commonly used words.

  130. savanna elliott -  January 19, 2012 - 3:26 pm

    WIth my son he gets a time out. but some times that doesnt work so u have to explane that thoses are mommy and daddy words and that you cant use them

  131. Slacker5001 -  January 19, 2012 - 3:25 pm

    Swearing can definably have a huge impact if you never do it. In school, considering the fact that it is against the rules, I never really do it and I find no need to. So on the occasion that I do let one slip in the classroom the effect is tremendous. At home though I swear daily in anger, jokes, and many other situations and they definitely have barely any affect anymore.

    As a child I also went through that swearing phase after picking up words from my other family members. My parents never swore in front of me either. The ironic thing is that my younger brother (about seven years apart from me) grew up with people swearing all around him, yet he did not attempt to use anything above mild potty themed words until ten.

  132. dullbulb -  January 19, 2012 - 3:23 pm

    i was very interested in why certain words are bad. i want to know the source of connotation. why is malice bad and virtue good? i know mal is a prefix for bad, but when it comes to the fbomb i didnt find a prefix, suffix or root. I’m looking for an article that mentions this. This article did not.

  133. Aaron -  January 19, 2012 - 3:21 pm

    This doesn’t actually explain what makes certain words considered “swear” words and other words (with the exact same meaning) not… Who decides such things???

  134. mama4281 -  January 19, 2012 - 3:18 pm

    I dont, to me the bad words are stupid and idiot, and I tell her it is not nice to say to that to others. Actually she is usually telling us that when we slip and she is only 3.

  135. Ivana -  January 19, 2012 - 2:57 pm

    this is very interesting :p

  136. St. James -  January 19, 2012 - 2:49 pm

    “The most honest rely”? When an article about language isn’t even adequately proofed I guess it’s time to give up on the internet having so much as a small, literate corner.

  137. Emma henley -  January 19, 2012 - 2:25 pm

    I would tell them not to say that. Or they will get somthing tooking away. Before my daughter died. SHe once said a bad word she herd by her older brother and said it. I told her not to say it,she said it again so I didnt take her out for icrea! IT WORKED!

  138. Lando Calrissian -  January 19, 2012 - 2:20 pm


  139. noswearing -  January 19, 2012 - 2:14 pm

    People shouldn’t swear at all.

  140. L Bosma -  January 19, 2012 - 2:10 pm

    A family counselor once told me if your child is unruly, say at Walmart, pick them up like a football and exit the store. Unfortunately there are 2 truths about those witnessing this type of “proper” parenting and that is they all have an opinion and an asshole. That leaves us with the question- do we have a bunch of opinionated people walking around with assholes or a bunch of assholes walking around with opinions (feel free to edit out asshole and put “bleep” I’m sure everyone will know what was meant).

  141. Dan the Man -  January 19, 2012 - 2:00 pm

    I would tell the child not to say it again, firmly; and that if he/she did so again that I would spank him/her. If he/she did so, my threat would not prove empty.

  142. Clare -  January 19, 2012 - 1:51 pm

    The problem with bleeping out words is that whenever you hear the loud “BEEP!” you either insert the word that was probably used, or you accidentally think “I wonder which word they used there?”

  143. Me -  January 19, 2012 - 1:49 pm

    What is to one person, group, or community, &c, a swear, may to another have a completely different meaning and/or connotation. Especially with dialectal differences and slang.

  144. Mackenzie -  January 19, 2012 - 1:19 pm

    heyy.. in 5th grade i was a kindergarten helper. that means that i help out the kindergarteners by leading them 2 their classroom or leading them 2 their bus room. one day these 2 bffs were talking 2 each other. one got mad and said the f word. a kindergartener. i thought that was terrible, so i immediately told the teacher and we both tried 2 calm them down. i guess the kid’s parents used the word, or as it mentions in the article, older siblings or even aunts and uncles. i found that really weird, and then i read this article saying that even toddlers say them. now what is that???????? god just made us have bad words, thats it. and we cant control the people who use them.

  145. Elise E. -  January 19, 2012 - 1:14 pm

    A nother thing, three years ago my two-year-old cousin tought my three-year-old sister “the finger.” I don’t know what it means and nor does she. But she uses it all the times to be funny. my parents don’t do anything about it, even though if it were me ten years ago, they would have beat me silly! TWICE!

  146. SWEARINGTODDLE | BLOGCHI@mayopia.com -  January 19, 2012 - 1:08 pm

    [...] ‘Swearing Toddle’ — Breast Fed or Bottle — What does the environment matter? — Conservative Angst — Shooting Blanks — No Free Speech makes the Fat Cat Fatter. — It is about the environment, and being linguistically Creative. — If the kid can pick up expletives, — “I’m Sorry” should not be berated. –>>L.T.Rhyme [...]

  147. Elise E. -  January 19, 2012 - 1:06 pm

    To be honest, I don’t know any swearing, cussing, or cursing words. The wrost I know is the “B” word. It’s not a bad thing. I don’t have to worry about going off or however it’s said. Whenever I see a bleeped out woed on tv I don’t know what it is.

    Also, my parents tought me not to swear.

  148. Cyberquill -  January 19, 2012 - 12:42 pm

    Bleeping swear words is fine with me. What annoys me is the partial blurring of the image when a hot chick disrobes on TV.


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