Questions related to words or phrases that may be considered offensive in English

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What is the historic process for converting vulgar words into simply rude words?

I have noticed a pattern involving vulgarities where the previous generation's evil words become accepted as merely off-color or rude in the following generation. Is this merely each generation's ...
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5answers
7k views

What does “If she smokes, she pokes” exactly mean?

What does part she pokes of phrase If she smokes, she pokes exactly mean?
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4answers
502 views

General term for muggle-type terms?

Is there a general term to refer to "a semi-denigrating term used by a minority social group (not necessarily a racial group) to refer to the majority". Examples would be "muggle", "gentile", ...
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3answers
129 views

Sorry for the vulgarism, but is “motherf**ker” considered more insulting or racially offensive in some parts of the US?

This is more of a cultural question. A little while back, I was playing basketball at my pickup league - a friend of mine who is white (and from New Hampshire) got whacked pretty bad in the face by ...
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7answers
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Why does swearing 'turn the air blue'?

Why do we say that the air is blue when someone has been swearing a lot?
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5answers
1k views

How rude is “naff”?

"Naff" is a word I infrequently use as a mild version of "shit". If something is a little bit bad or dull, it is "naff". I have just come across (via The Slate Gabfest podcast) one of the alleged ...
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5answers
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How serious an insult is “wanker” in British English? [NSFW]

In the spirit of this question, "How profane is it to call someone a 'slag' in British English", how insulting is "wanker" in British English on the spectrum of profanities and vulgarities? What's ...
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4answers
103k views

What exactly does “fap” mean? [NSFW]

Sorry for the ridiculous question, but I can't understand the difference between fap and masturbation. Does fap mean the whole progress?
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5answers
9k views

What is currently the most obscene word in British English? [closed]

In a recent question, I realized that while I know what's currently considered the most obscene word in American English ("cunt"), I am told that word is much more unexceptional and workaday in ...
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6answers
764 views

Better way to say “cover our a***s”

I'm looking for a couple of good coined phrases that I can use in front of business people, apologies if the one I had in mind offends anyone. I'd use "can sleep at night" but I want the phrase to ...
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3answers
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Why is 'hell' considered a curse word?

Given the Wikipedia's list of profanities, you will see that it's somehow detached from the rest of curse words. The most commonly recognized profanities usually describe a body part, person or an ...
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4answers
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Is the term “halfcast” racist?

When I was at university in the late 90s, a girl I shared a flat with would use the term "halfcast" to describe people of mixed race, especially in the context of people who had a similar skin colour ...
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4answers
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Is calling a homosexual person “gay” offensive?

My native language is German but I’ve been watching a lot of TV in English. During a conversation about the English language, a question about the term gay came up. Is calling a homosexual person gay ...
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3answers
863 views

Meaning of the expression “Eat sh**”

What does the expression "eat shit" represent in the following sentences? Eat shit, I'm not going to do your dirty work. Is this similar to "I dislike doing your dirty work"? Or does it mean "Go ...
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5answers
2k views

Is the adjective “vain” considered offensive when applied to a person?

I am given to understand by the Chambers Dictionary and Webster's that vain can be understood as thoughtless, empty-headed, useless, which all sound rather strong to me. Is it likely that a native ...
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2answers
4k views

Is it derogatory or offensive to call a detective a dick?

The word dick is generally considered offensive and is marked so in dictionaries. But there is also a meaning of detective that it carries. I usually find no derog indication for this meaning. Is it ...
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3answers
128k views

How offensive is it to call someone a “slag” in British English? (NSFW)

One more colorful slang term I gleaned from the British movie I recently watched is slag. In the movie, it was used in curses like, "Fuck-ing dogs! Slags." "Right slag, that one." Now I know via ...
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5answers
8k views

Why is the term “touched” no longer commonly used?

I’ve heard the term touched used to refer to someone who is “not quite right”. I’m curious as to where this term came from, what it really means, and why it doesn’t tend to be used often anymore. Is ...
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1answer
264 views

Origin of “c**p”

I've heard some far-fetched stories of the origin of the word crap. What is its real origin?
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5answers
816 views

Slang names for souteneur

What are some common slang names for the souteneur - the illicit "manager" for prostitutes? I'm fairly sure there are a few, but I can't find any in the common online resources and I need it for a ...
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2answers
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Why are the “donkey” and the “butt” both named “ass”? [closed]

Is there any similarity between them that they have the same name, or is the reason something different of having a physical similarity? I found different meanings for both, but none of them ...
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6answers
12k views

Is 'Jap' still considered an ethnic slur?

~Seventy years after 'The War', is Jap still considered to be an ethnic slur in the US? Is/was it also considered offensive in the UK?
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3answers
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What is the origin of the word “wog”?

Some friend of mine told me it was an acronym for "western oriental gentleman" and was a form of sarcastic politeness. Is this true, and is it offensive to use this word?
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5answers
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Is there a clean version of “no sh*t, Sherlock”?

The phrase "no shit, Sherlock" or just "no shit" is a reply used when someone else points out something obvious. I was thinking about it the other day and I realized I don't know if there is a clean ...
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5answers
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Where does the term Cracker come from, and how disparaging is it?

My grandmother from Georgia openly refers to herself and other white southerners as "Crackers", and sometimes adds a state as in "Georgia Cracker" or "Florida Cracker". She says it means simple folks ...
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3answers
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Why haven't we used “it” instead of “he or she”?

There is a related discussion on this forum. My questions is different. I'm all for gender awareness, but why hasn't a properly defined pronoun "it" been used instead of "he/she" or "he or she", etc. ...
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2answers
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What does “to pick someone's cherry” mean?

Does it strictly refer to taking someone's virginity, or does it express sexual intercourse in general?
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3answers
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When and how do words become offensive?

Disclaimer: Not strictly English language question, but still a question on language use I've just had a discussion with a member, who argued that the word "lunatic" is offensive and therefore should ...
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4answers
989 views

What language function does profanity serve?

I know that the use of profanity has a number of social and psychological functions like pain relief, a sense of control over helpless situations, intimacy and group bonding through release of social ...
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5answers
425 views

Grammatical explanation of “what the blank”

In emphatic questions, it's common to see or hear an interjection such as the heck — or something more vulgar — between the interrogative and the verb. What was that? becomes What the heck ...
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1answer
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Where does English get the word “condom” from?

Although once a word that dared not speak its name, thanks to popular-culture references as well as the devastating AIDS tragedy, condom seems to be on everyone’s lips these days. But does anybody ...
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1answer
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Origin of “Screw the pooch”

Wiktionary says this of "screw the pooch": The term was first documented in the early "Mercury" days of the US space program. It came there from a Yale graduate named John Rawlings who helped ...
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3answers
245 views

Is it safe to use “old” to mean “previous” for a person?

Is it safe to use "old" to mean "previous" or "former" for something like "my old teacher"? Or is it a bit risky, because "old" also has a meaning with respect to age (i.e., chronologically gifted)? ...
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0answers
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What is a term describing offensive word replacement with made-up slang? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: What term describes a non-offensive substitute for a swear word? Is there a term for replacing one slang word with another made-up slang word? For example f*cking => ...
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Is the verb “jimmy” related to “Jim Crow”?

The verb "jimmy" is more often used in American English than other dialects, and the main thing you "jimmy" is a crow bar. Is the verb "jimmy" derived from the American English phrase "Jim Crow", ...
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8answers
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What's a word to describe topics that would be impolite to talk about?

What's a word for this? I thought of taboo (or from MW - taboo). But I'm not sure that this is the right word. Examples of this kind of topic include: money sex other people not present Is there a ...
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11answers
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Substitute for F*** in emphasizing disbelief, anger, etc

How do I replace F*** while expressing fully my disbelief, anger, etc? E.g., "I think Homer Simpson is incredibly sexy" My reply "Get out of here! That's f***ing ridiculous."
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Is the word 'consort' still considered an insult in the modern usage?

In Romeo and Juliet, Tybalt says to Mercutio: 'Mercutio, thou consort'st with Romeo.' Mercutio replies 'consort! What, dost thou make us minstrels?... Zounds consorts!' Bloodshed followed shortly. ...
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3answers
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Is “gaijin” considered offensive?

Is gaijin a term that's only acceptable when it's a non-Japanese person using it self-referentially (similar to n-word privileges in TV Tropes), or is it considered ok to use in normal conversation ...
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3answers
6k views

Is schmuck really an obscene word?

Schmuck is supposedly an obscene Yiddish term for the male sex organ, yet it appears all of the time in the media as an American idiom for a jerk. Can one use it in polite company?
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1answer
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What does 'mothercanuckers' mean?

First of all, sorry if it is offensive (I think it somewhat is). I was going through http://bleacherreport.com/articles/424590-the-funniest-promos-and-moments-in-wwe-history#page/20 The Rock ...
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3answers
760 views

Why do you suck at XYZ?

How bad is the usage of the word suck in English? Is this "bad boy" language or commonly used?
5
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3answers
2k views

Why is “ass” considered obscene?

Spam filters replace obscene "Ass" for "butt" Meanwhile, in literature, newspaper articles, forum posts, sayings, proverbs, etc. I am encountering many more expressions with ass but not with butt. ...
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4answers
2k views

Were “devil” and “damned” really offensive words in Victorian times?

I've been reading Trollope's The Way We Live Now, and have noticed a little stylistic quirk; that the words devil and damned appear blanked out, as d----- and d------. They appear in sentences like... ...
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4answers
8k views

Does “This blows!” (it's bad) derive from “This sucks!”?

The origin of blow = suck, be bad/unpleasant recently came up in comments to this ELL question. I'd always assumed it was a standard slang "meaning reversal" from suck. But a few minutes on Google ...
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3answers
3k views

How old is “Bollocks!”?

As a non-English native it took me years to grow up and understand, what meant "Never Mind the Bollocks" as the title of Sex Pistols album. Using "bollocks" as "rubbish", "crap" or what so ever took ...
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5answers
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What is the origin and earliest recorded usage of 'cock-up'

In informal British English, the expression 'cock-up' (c.f. the US English 'fuck-up') is used to indicate an error or problem in a situation. What is the origin of this expression and its etymology? ...
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3answers
2k views

Is the phrase “all to c**k” considered profane?

I occasionally use the colloquialism "all to cock" to mean "disastrously wrong". I've always thought it a benign phrase, but recently I've wondered whether the use of the word "cock" in this situation ...
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2answers
9k views

Why are promiscuous women known as “slappers”?

Women who aren't interested in much more than sex are referred to as "slappers" in British English. British informal, derogatory a promiscuous or vulgar woman. Why is this? I can't find any ...
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2answers
2k views

Are there religious swear words in English the way there are in French-speaking Québec (like “Câlisse!”)?

Are there in English any cases of using religious words for swear words, most likely in predominantly Christian regions? I ask because in the Canadian province of Québec, which is primarily ...