I ask because some people cuss a little and some cuss a lot. There’s no judgement here. I cuss sometimes, but only in certain circumstances. And I’ve noticed that more people are using cuss words. On social media and in real life. Noticing this sent me down the Google rabbit hole and I came across this article about 12 swear words and their history. It intrigued me and stressed me out at the same time. However, it also made me wonder how using cuss words makes others feel too. Here are the four I use most, their history and thoughts on how these words can make you feel.
I start with this one because it’s the most harsh and the one that ruffles the most feathers. The word fuck originates from a German word that means to hit or to strike. There was another historical explanation I found much more humorous, though. After the English plague, the Kind was worried about the population numbers decreasing radically so he told people to “Fornicate Under the Command of the King”. While this story might be funny, it’s not entirely true. What is true is that the word fuck was predominantly used as a non-swear word to indicate sexual intercourse. Today, it’s used in that context, but also as a showing of a mistake or anger. It took nearly 300 years to make this transition.
While this might be the most harsh cuss word, it’s probably the one used the most frequently. I know I use it pretty regularly, but I am careful of where I use it and who I say it in front of. Saying it can give a negative feeling to a conversation or increase the anger levels people are feeling.
This is one of those cuss words I’m not a fan of. It’s pretty well known that it’s a term used to describe a female dog. It’s probably also well known that it’s a term used to describe a woman. But what’s probably not known is that the use of the word dates back to 1400. [I was shocked too!]
This cuss word is used very often and what makes me uncomfortable about it is that it can be SUPER derogatory towards women. If someone does something that others don’t like, the woman is almost always called a bitch regardless if she is wrong or not. My advice, shy away from using this word because of the stress and anxiety it causes me and those around me.
This cuss word always makes me laugh. Mainly because all I can picture is a donkey. The word itself symbolizes a mammal that’s smaller than a horse but also has long ears. Hence, a donkey. This animal is thought to be stupid, stubborn and detestable at times which explains where the cuss word comes from. When someone is called an ass, the person using the term is usually saying it because the recipient did something dumb. But what about the other way the word is used? Ass also comes from the term aers which is an English term for buttocks. In Europe, this is kind of a term of an endearment. I went there in high school and stayed with host families. The parents called their kinds aerses and everyone would laugh.
The word ass makes me laugh but it isn’t always used in a humorous context. Think about being cut off in traffic or when you see a news story about someone doing something foolish. Use the word wisely and try to understand the context of how it’s being used before feeling stressed.
This is probably my favorite cuss word. I use it all the time, especially when I make a mistake, drop something or forget something. The term comes from the Old English word scitte which means to purge or excrement. Are you picturing the poop emoji? I did too. So if the word literally means feces, why do we use it when something bad happens? Think Shit Storm or Shit Head.
The funny part about the word shit is that while it’s meant to to be used to describe the brown stuff, it can also bring some levity to a situation. You make a small mistake and say it, you laugh, possibly along with others. On the other side of the coin, it could cause people to mistrust you and lack confidence in you because you’re acknowledging that you made a mistake.
How do cuss words make you feel? As mentioned in the few examples above, they could fuel the anger already felt, add more negative context to a situation or it could be a good thing and add light to a bad situation. Do some thinking about how these (and other) words make you feel. If using them makes you feel like you, then keep using them! Be authentically you. Don’t change to fit the image the world has of you or how you should be. My only caution is to be mindful of where you’re using them, how you’re using them and who you’re using them with. And if you want more history on cuss words, check out History of Swear Words on Netflix.