I understand that words like "hell" and "damn" are cursing the person they are directed to, but why would words such as "shit" and "bitch" be viewed as curses?

  • 4
    You might also ask why words that have nothing to do with swearing an oath (in the sense of affirming one's commitment to something or to one's own veracity) are called "swearwords" and "oaths."
    – Sven Yargs
    Apr 9, 2016 at 22:42
  • The words are cursed because they've been used in too many blasphemous maledictions.
    – Hot Licks
    Apr 9, 2016 at 23:38
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    A tem like 'obscenity' might be more appropriate for your latter examples. Curse might be used, but as the question implies, it's not accurate.
    – Jesse M
    Apr 10, 2016 at 0:29

1 Answer 1


Cursing as an offense comes from throwing a curse or an evil spell; words, when carried with intention can affect people on emotional levels, like a curse. The secondary sense is swear, a closely related word "use bad language" (early 15c.) developed from the notion of "invoke sacred names." Thus you make use of a bad language, in the original sense, not because of coarseness, but determined by the misuse of it. Later it became the word of choice to the bad election of language in the form of cursing.

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