Is there a consensus in terms of the ranking of offensiveness given by the word "damn" and its derivatives?

  • Damn
  • Darn
  • Dang
  • Ding (as in ding-busted)

I assume that the less a word sounds like the original swear word, the more polite it is considered. I was wondering, depending on the audience, as long as it's not "damn" does it matter what substitute word is used? For example could it be considered offensive to say "darn" instead of "dang"?

closed as primarily opinion-based by Drew, andy256, Hellion, Matt Gutting, tchrist Dec 11 '14 at 21:12

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • To most, 1 darn (of a sock) leads to an inordinate number of damns. – Oldcat Dec 10 '14 at 21:36
  • I believe 'ding' and 'dang' (here) are the same word, just spelled with a different vowel to reflect regional pronunciation differences. We were asked by a waitress taking our order in a rural coastal seafood restaurant in South Carolina, Kang or kwayne? That is, what size platters would we like, king or queen? – TRomano Dec 10 '14 at 22:49
  • Asking if something could be considered offensive may be primarily opinion based. A better question would be "In what context might it be considered offensive?" That would actually have an answer. Also, please, one authoritatively answerable question per post. – SrJoven Dec 11 '14 at 0:53

Technically only 'damn' is a real swearword in the list your give. All of the others are 'minced oaths', i.e. "euphemistic expressions replacing the offensive part of speech with something else".

The problem with a minced oath is that it loses its euphemistic value if everybody knows what it means, to the point where it becomes (to some people) the same as the offensive version.

In short the further what you say is from the original, and the less well-known it is, the less likely it is to be offensive. "Darn" is well known, and might offend. The others are further away. If you want to be completely sure of not offending, don't use 'filler' words like that at all - replace them with words that have actual meaning.

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    There are also contexts where 'damn' is not a swear word at all, as in "The prophet damned the false idols and cast them down." – Oldcat Dec 10 '14 at 21:37
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    Also - and just to address one small part of the question body - there is no consensus on how relatively offensive particular words might be. – user867 Dec 11 '14 at 0:12

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