I used "It's not fair", but someone told me "fair" is the "F" word, and they don't like it in their house. Should I avoid using it?

ps: sorry if my question offended someone, I didn't mean to it.

  • 3
    I assume that you're referring your question on MSO and to the comment by Al Everett?
    – Dori
    Commented Apr 18, 2011 at 3:23
  • 3
    In physics we have the 'N' word, so we are very carefull to call things magnetic-resonance machines, not nuclear-magnetic-resonance. Talking about how we must avoid the N word in public talks get some very funny looks from some Americans!
    – mgb
    Commented Apr 18, 2011 at 3:25
  • @Dori, I didn't understand that, so I am just asking the meaning here.
    – YOU
    Commented Apr 22, 2011 at 6:22
  • Mark - yep; it looked to me as if people here were wondering about the context, so I figured I'd take an educated guess as to what had instigated the question.
    – Dori
    Commented Apr 22, 2011 at 7:22
  • 2
    Wow, sounds like my house. I don't let my kids use "fair" to mean "not favoring me"; I do let them use it to mean "unjustly favoring me", but they never do. Commented Apr 22, 2011 at 7:43

3 Answers 3


I can't cite this but it sounds like a fairly common joke.

People often say things like, "[a word] is a four letter word around here".

'a four letter word' is a reference to the many profanities that do indeed have four letters. By saying that a seemingly inoffensive word is a 'four letter word', you are saying that for some reason that word should not be said, usually for humourous purposes.

I suggest that by saying 'Fair' was the F-word, your friend is doing the same thing. Like the old adage that "life isn't fair", your friend is simply saying that 'fair' doesn't happen and so the word may as well be a profanity.

They are not really offended by the word - just telling you that you shouldn't expect things to happen fairly.

This is merely conjecture but it seems likely.

  • 3
    Agree with your conjecture. Any parent can get sick of "It's not fair" really quick
    – Kevin
    Commented Apr 18, 2011 at 3:28
  • Indeed, and that's why we tell the kids it's not allowed in our house. It's not that it's offensive; we just phrase it like that to make it our own inside joke.
    – user362
    Commented May 4, 2011 at 16:06
  • Ditto here. My objection is that "fair" is used, commonly and dishonestly, to mean "not biased in my favor", so I forbade my kids from using it. Only helped a little. Commented May 31, 2011 at 17:48

The phrase "the f word" is primarily a euphemism for the word "fuck", which is usually considered the English language's "strongest" swear word (how offensive it is varies, and is another topic).

No-one is offended by the use of the word "fair", unless, perhaps, out of an unusual, and unusually strong, philosophical aversion to the concept. It is not usual to refer to "fair" (or any word other than "fuck") as "the f word".


They must be joking. Perhaps they were saying that you shouldn't expect fairness in their house. It sounds like something a parent would say to a child when they want to stop talking about an objection the child has raised.

There is only one true "F" word.

  • federal, perhaps?
    – mgb
    Commented Apr 18, 2011 at 15:57
  • @martin: To a "states' rights" person, yes.
    – Tom Au
    Commented Jul 12, 2011 at 22:11

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.