In Defense of Cuss Words

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I believe cuss words are bad.  They are considered rude language, vulgar, low-rent.  And with good reason; they are only used when you run out of ideas, want to vent at someone or something or want to look tough in the eyes of someone even dumber than you.  Cuss words are often used as the default adverb or adjective for any ocassion, and they replace words which have actual meaning1.  So your language starts meaning less and less, when you use cuss words.

There’s even a club in Pasadena, CA that promotes the eradication of cuss words, and their membership is growing.  And folks are taking to making up fake words that *sound* like cuss words so that they can avoid doing the nasty2.









But don’t judge them too harshly.  There’s a reason ‘bad’ words are used today and were in use in Shakespeare’s time (although I don’t think he ever put anything too harsh in his works).   They are a great substitute for *actually* punching someone/something out because you are mad/frustrated at some perceived slight.  Think about it:  primitive peoples chose some random sound and assigned it a ‘bad’ meaning, and agreed that using that sound would connote anger and pseudo-violence.   So instead of fighting it out with the guy who cuts you off in the freeway,  you can let a few cuss words fly and it has the same effect3

And sometimes, cuss words are just poetic, bringing me back to my main point.  I remember the first time that I encountered my favorite cuss word.   I was reading the works of Harlan Ellison; it was one of his short stories that was later turned into the Terminator movies.  As the humans are fighting SkyNet, they rally to the cry  “Smash those Metal Motherf***rs!!”  and I believe that this actually made it into the script of the first Terminator movie4.    Is there a more perfect matchup of two words??  Think about how much anger and hatred that simple statement conveys.  And yet it is perfectly clear that a robot will NEVER be able to carry out the action in that statement.  A robot has no mother, and as an emotionless entity, does not want to copulate with his mother.  And since they replicate by assembling themselves in automated factories, there is no reason on Earth why a robot would copulate with another robot !!

But forget reason and logical argument.  Just sit back and enjoy the melodious sound of the perfect cuss word.  Better yet, use it yourself.  But always tie it to a noun to which it could never apply; this makes it the perfect matchup.  I have been using it of late, after watching the media coddling Democratic politicians in interviews.   I rally to the cry “Motherf***ing Fourth Estate Wannabes!!”   There, doesn’t that feel better already?

Disclaimer: I have been and always will be a displaced New Yorker.  We know the value of a good cuss word.  Any New Yorker worth his salt will appreciate what I say.

  1. Remember how awful it was when people started using “Smurfy” instead of a real word? []
  2. My favorite comes from Dahl’s move “The Amazing Mr. Fox” where the word “cuss” actually takes the place of a cuss word.  Brilliant !! []
  3. Well, sometimes words escalate into violence, but that’s not how it’s supposed to work. []
  4. Fear not, gentle Reader.  Harlan Ellison successfully sued them to include his name in the credits []

4 thoughts on “In Defense of Cuss Words”

  1. Well, as a fan of Kevin Smith, Quentin Tarantino, Louis C.K., etc., I have no choice but to appreciate foul language, albeit artfully employed. My only issue is with the term cuss itself. I’ll always say curse instead of the euphemism cuss, which I guess makes me twice the vulgarian. Cussing was always the term used by kids in the Bible Belt called it and it will always sound weird and foreign to me. I guess the word curse was considered so shocking it was turned into a curse word itself.

  2. Agreed. It’s curse, not cuss.
    and it’s soda or coke, not pop.
    and its pizza not just pie, that’s a dessert.
    and you don’t have to say “I’ll have a cheese pizza”
    Cheese is one of the main ingredients OF pizza, unless you mean you want EXTRA cheese then that’s OK but be more clear about it.

    back to the subject
    In the military (on the flight-line), if you weren’t cursing you weren’t talking. Actually, now that I think about it… if every one of your sentences wasn’t peppered with curses, then others thought there was something wrong with you. It’s like you were admitting to being gay or whatever.
    However, this did give me a valuable skill. It’s the ability to turn the curse switch on-and-off at will. If I’m amongst friends, the switch is on. If a child walks into our area, or something along those lines, the switch is off. My wife lacks this ability.
    Even worse…
    What I can’t stand is when I’m at Best Buy for example, and I’m with my kids and two EMPLOYEES are BSing loudly in the next isle, talking sex and what-not. Not only are you in public, but you’re SUPPOSED to be representing the company you work for.
    Fucking Assholes…

  3. Now, c’mon. When you walk into a REAL pizzeria (not Pizza Hut or Oscar’s) it is my birthright as a transplanted New Yorker to order “a regular pie.” It gets a little more difficult when you want to order a Sicilian pizza. I don’t think you use the term ‘pie’ in that instance? I once asked for a regular pie and got the Sicilian instead of the Neopolitan round. What gives?

    As for the informal use of foul language, I tend to stay away from it. I can’t recall the last time I cursed (excepting the current fun I’m having with the motherf***er and the media). I find that I can be as cruel, vicious and merciless while using colloquial English. I do feel out of it when I’m in a group that is using ‘colorful metaphors’ as Mr. Spock would say. But that’s the price you pay when you reserve the cuss word for the really important times.

    And I really do hope that “The Amazing Mr. Fox” movie will turn a new generation into polite ‘cussers.’

    Stay tuned for my long-expected article on the joys of using the Foul-Language filter on my television.

  4. I knew a girl from Valdosta, GA, which is Coca Cola country. It’s such a part of their culture that they always ask for a Coke. But it’s not what you think!

    What would you like to drink?
    I’ll have a Coke.
    What kind?
    A Sprite.

    Coke is just their word for soda, pop, etc.

    As for pizza, I think it’s totally reasonable to ask for a pie, but I was told that pizza pie is redundant because pizza means pie. I can’t find irrefutable proof of this, but evidence points in that direction.

    However, it is indefensible to give some one a Sicilian when they’ve asked for a “regular pie.” It will require strange circumstances before I ever eat another slice of Sicilian.

    Man, I really miss Vesuvio’s in Pt. Pleasant.

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