Holy Crap! Britain's Swearing Crisis and Why the C-Word is to Blame

“It’s not fair. I used to save the ‘C’ word for best, but now everyone’s using it.”
A small, naughty part of me would love to re-name our house ‘Bell End’. I like swearing. Almost all of us do it, and it can be surprisingly satisfying.
Not so long ago the C word invariably caused real offence, even though it’s an ancient Germanic term also related to the Norwegian and Swedish ‘kunta’, and the Middle Low German, Middle Dutch and Danish ‘kunte’. In the 1300s Chaucer used the old spelling, ‘queynte’ in his Canterbury Tales, a literary classic.
The C word is as old as the hills. It has been the ultimate bad word, forbidden in everything except dire circumstances, for most of my life. Now it has lost much of its its shock value and we live in a C-word free-for-all. It’s even on telly.
We could just struggle along without an ultimate swear word, a word so bad it’s forbidden. But because swearing is actually rather good for us, we still need a decent stock of words designed to shock.

Science says swearing matters to our health and well-being

There’s plenty of solid scientific evidence detailing swearing’s evolutionary imperatives. Some of them are common sense. When you swear, other humans are left in no doubt you’re seriously cross, offended, upset or in pain, which makes it an influential communication tool.
According to Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker, swearing “recruits our expressive faculties to the fullest”. Other research reveals swearing is natural and beneficial, and people who don’t do it might be ‘dying of politeness’ – or so says the respected robot scientist and author Emma Byrne in her book, Swearing is Good for You. Why? Many reasons. A study by a team at Keele University shows swearing is a surprisingly effective pain killer – the bluer the air, the less pain you feel. Swearing helps stroke victims recover lost  language. It builds better teams at work because people who swear together end up trusting each other more than non-swearers. Swearing is associated with intelligence. And we’re not the only mammals who find it useful. Chimps swear too.
Swearing isn’t a moral issue. While at least one Artificial Intelligence can tell the difference between banter and genuinely offensive language, swearing itself isn’t abusive. It’s just words, and people swear for many different reasons. If you’ve ever affectionately called a good friend a dick-brain, you’ll know the score. As comedians know, a well-timed, crisply delivered swear word can be hilarious, adding spice to a story like seasoning to food. And that’s why every language on earth features a rich seam of wicked words that make the locals wince.
Here in the UK the C word has gone mainstream. There’s no successor to the C-throne. The queen of rude is dead. What’s left for the famously sweary Brits? With the C word no more shocking than any other run-of-the-mill curse, what do we say to express – and soothe – the most painful feelings of all, those that go way off the scale?

27 creative alternatives to the C word

Having got ourselves into this tricky linguistic pickle, it’s time to break free. While there’s no upper swearing limit in the UK any more, there’s a rich seam of old-school insults to tap into. Some might be quaint but they all make fantastic expletives. Next time the C word just isn’t big, shocking or fulfilling enough, get your laughing gear around some of these. Do it loud and proud. And say it like you mean it. It’ll probably do you all sorts of good.

  1. Twonk
  2. Goon
  3. Gonk
  4. Muppet
  5. Dick-brain
  6. Fop
  7. Bell end
  8. Scallywag
  9. Gadabout
  10. Nit
  11. Twit
  12. Nitwit
  13. Twerp
  14. Dweeb
  15. Nincompoop
  16. Twat
  17. Noodle
  18. Arse
  19. Fool
  20. Scoundrel
  21. Buffoon
  22. Cad
  23. Dunderhead
  24. Wazzock
  25. Blevvied Lummox
  26. Ninny
  27. Numpty

Can you suggest a great alternative to the C word?

I can’t think of anything ruder than the C word. Can you? If so, Britain needs that word. Please send it to me 😉
PS. I forgot ‘shitweasel’.
PPS. Oh, and there’s ‘twunt’ too – a veritable embarrassment of swearing riches 😉

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