Most common damn-words in English are of course the f-word and the s-word, which are - for my best knowledge - considered vulgarisms. The word "crap" may be used as a damn-word, however I'd bet, that it is not vulgar. Am I correct?

  • Some people can take offense at any word in the English language - and as English is a rather word-rich langugage (due to borrowing words from just about everywhere) there is much to be offended about. It's not so much what is said as how it is said. Stand on a street corner and angrily shout "Petunias!" or "Chrysanthemums!"and I'm sure you'll find yourself surrounded in short order by a bevy of such individuals who feel that your use of the name of a flower is unconscionably vulgar because "We all know what you meant!!!". – Bob Jarvis - Reinstate Monica Mar 11 '14 at 11:32
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    Like many semantic features, vulgarity or tabooness is not absolute but comes on a smoother scale. dirt, spoor, manure, feces, excrement, poop, crap, shit. There's quite a leap in vulgarity from poop to crap and also from crap to shit. Formalizing the exact feeling of the situations where crap is used is difficult. – Mitch Aug 12 '18 at 13:36

The meaning of crap is

  • Something that is of extremely poor quality: nonsense; rubbish, junk.
  • excrement: (in singular) an act of defecation.

The first meaning is similar to the use of the work cock in the following British English sentence:

That's all a lot of cock.

The NOAD doesn't mark the second meaning of crap as vulgar, and I don't think it is interpreted as vulgar from people too.
To make a comparison, also the word cock is not considered vulgar, as it has other meanings apart penis.

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    Crap can also be used as a synonym for absurdity or ridiculousness. It also can be used as an exclamation, as in Holy crap!. – Scott Mitchell Feb 25 '11 at 20:00
  • I think you're leaving out the interjection as Scott Mitchell pointed out above. – Adam Feb 25 '11 at 22:19
  • The phrase highlighted would actually be quite an unusual one, but makes perfect sense. A native English speaker might use it to add a small amount of comedy value to their complaint. One would also likely substitute 'lot' with 'load'. – Tom W Sep 21 '11 at 19:10
  • "Cock" is definitely somewhat vulgar, except when referring to a male chicken. "Crap" is on a similar level. Neither should be used in polite company -- but polite company is becoming less and less common :D – slim Oct 4 '11 at 11:37
  • I find that "vulgarism" is subjective. I grew up hearing "crap" as a euphemism for "sh**" and it was like an acceptable substitute word, but I was visiting a friend and his mother gave me a gentle correction when I used it, so she considered it, at least to some degree, vulgar. I think in that instance I was talking about a pro wrestler "beating the crap out of" someone. She suggested I use the word "stuffing" instead. (WOW, that was 30 years ago.) – TecBrat Apr 26 '12 at 2:21

I wouldn't label crap as vulgar by today's standards, but it isn't a word you'd want to use in a professional setting or with people who are prim and proper.

The word itself is used in a many different ways. kiamlaluno pointed out two popular usages:

  • Something that is of extremely poor quality: nonsense; rubbish, junk.
  • excrement: (in singular) an act of defecation.

But it is also used as an exclamation, as in:

Holy crap, this test is difficult!

I do think that the word crap has become more acceptable over time. When I was a child in the 80s I once said, in front of a friend's mother, "This is crap," after seeing a long line at an amusement park. She gave me a very stern look and told me I should not use such vulgar language.

Another time I was helping a classmate clean out his desk and I said something along the lines of, "There is a lot of crap in here," and he shushed me as he was concerned that we would get in trouble if the teacher heard us using that word.

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  • +1 for including it as an interjection. – Adam Feb 25 '11 at 22:20

Well, it's less vulgar than its synonym "shit", and more vulgar than the term "junk" or "garbage", so it's a matter of scale. I wouldn't use "crap" in polite company, or when speaking to a customer.

Coincidentally, when broadcasting on TV or the Radio in the USA, it's OK to use the word "crap", but illegal to use the word "shit", so it doesn't need to be censored.

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If you are, or want to be perceived as, a mature, grown-up person, you will not use the word "crap". It is understood to be another word for fecal matter. Why would you want to talk about what you do in the bathroom? Yuck. I sure don't want to hear about it in polite convo. That's just gross. Keep it to yourself.

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