I learnt a new word the other day: lalochezia:-

The use of vulgar or foul language to relieve stress or pain. [English Wiktionary]

I have been indulging in this for in excess of fifty years without knowing this word, so I started to wonder, how is the word so rare when the thing it describes is so common? Is there a synonym for it that I can't think of?

  • I've never heard it before. Commented Mar 24, 2020 at 12:34
  • Heard it literally last night in a movie review by Mark Kermode. (Can't quite remember which one it was, been bingewatching them all for the last couple days. Maybe I can find it and post a link.) It's a rare one yes, but then again so are most words. (Edit: still can't find it. Found stumm and louche and pinteresque and many instances of rubbish, but no lalochezia so far.)
    – RegDwigнt
    Commented Mar 24, 2020 at 12:36
  • 1
    Sounds like gallows humor laced with Tourette syndrome. Commented Mar 24, 2020 at 14:43
  • 1
    There is a near-synonym but it is another obscure word: catarolysis: "letting off steam by cursing"
    – ermanen
    Commented Mar 24, 2020 at 21:49
  • If you've ever hit your thumb with a hammer, you'll know it doesn't relieve a lot of stress or pain. But you do it anyway.
    – Robusto
    Commented Jan 5, 2022 at 15:06

2 Answers 2


A good word here is cathartic, as in cathartic swearing. In fact this is the exact expression used by one expert when classifying different types of swearing:

According to Steven Pinker, there are five possible functions of swearing:

  • Cathartic swearing, used in response to pain or misfortune

Wikipedia: Profanity

  • Lalochezia: From Greek lalia (speech) + chezo (to relieve oneself). Catharsis: Early 19th century (in catharsis (sense 2)): from Greek katharsis, from kathairein ‘cleanse’, from katharos ‘pure’..... Catharsis: the process of releasing strong emotions through a particular activity or experience, such as writing or theatre, in a way that helps you to understand those emotions - Cambridge English dictionary. Commented Mar 24, 2020 at 12:53
  • 1
    But 'cathartic' is hardly foul-language specific. One could equally well say 'a good word here is cussing'. It doesn't denote stress relief, but I read somewhere a famous researcher says it helps ...'. Commented Mar 24, 2020 at 12:59
  • @EdwinAshworth I know it’s more of a hypernym. That’s why you probably wouldn’t use it alone. The purpose of the quote is to show that people can and do use expressions like “cathartic swearing”. Sorry this was not super clear; I have edited.
    – Laurel
    Commented Mar 24, 2020 at 13:29

A cursory search of the Internet pulls up the information that the word seems only to exist as a dictionary entry and was coined in about 2012, according to Collins:

New Word Suggestion


The use of foul language = Submitted By: SukhJug - 23/08/2012 - Approval Status: Pending Investigation


lal·o·che·zi·a (lal'ō-kē'zē-ă), Emotional discharge gained by uttering indecent or filthy words. Farlex Partner Medical Dictionary © Farlex 2012 via TFD

I can't find any "natural" use of the word.

As additional information, English has a grand tradition of "inventing words" - often "nonce" words for a particular set of circumstances: Few of these ever make it into the language. e.g. 15 Words That Don’t Exist But We Definitely Need Inside Our Vocabulary.

And then there is the Book "The Meaning of Liff" which is a dictionary of words that don't exist.

  • Lalochezia is a rare word. From Greek lalia (speech) + chezo (to relieve oneself) - ancient Greek. I think we can make a new word up from fresh Greek/ Latin roots. :) Commented Mar 24, 2020 at 14:26
  • Thank you. I am not sure one can infer the date of a word's coinage from the copyright date there but you may be right. Commented Mar 24, 2020 at 15:25
  • 1
    @DecapitatedSoul re chezo, I found it interesting that there was a level of euphemism involved, but it looks like the euphemism is in the translation. Seems like "talking shit" might be a more literal translation! See also haggardhawks.com/post/cacemphaton, which offers another classical option. Commented Jan 5, 2022 at 15:55

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

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