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I want to tell my uncle that I am "f***ing around" but I certainly can't use the F word. I googled it but I didn't find the phrase/word I am looking for.

I am wasting my time doing silly things and I want a phrase or word for that. Can anyone give any formal or polite phrase for that?

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    I’m voting to close this question because it shows no research, I googled and the first result was a dictionary entry and synonyms included: to fool around, to fritter, and horse around P.S I googled this a long time ago, yesterday, so the question enjoyed its run. Time to close.
    – Mari-Lou A
    May 21, 2020 at 12:01

18 Answers 18

14

I want to tell my uncle that I am "f***ing around" but I certainly can't use the F (f*ck) word.

If you don't want to say 'f*ck' then say fiddle instead. Both 'fck' and 'fiddle' start with F, so 'fck' can easily be replaced by 'fiddle'.

Fiddle around: To spend time doing small things that are not important or necessary — Cambridge English dictionary

You could substitute 'fiddle' for 'f*ck'.

Example: Uncle, I'm fiddling around. (It does not sound vulgar).


Single word for that would be loafing.

Loaf (verb): Spend one's time in an aimless, idle way.

Lexico

Example: Uncle, I'm loafing.

Or footle. But as others have said, it's unlikely to be understood.

Footle (verb): Engage in fruitless activity; mess about.

Lexico

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  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – tchrist
    Jun 7, 2020 at 2:56
43

You say:

I am wasting my time doing silly things and I want a phrase or word for that.

I would use messing around:

[Merriam-Webster]
1 : to waste time : DAWDLE, IDLE
2 a : ASSOCIATE
         // didn't mess around with gangs
2 b : FLIRT, PHILANDER

Not only does it have the same verbal form as f—ing around, but it also conveys many of the same senses.

In short, it can be easily substituted in most sentences:

I was just messing around in my room.


The word mess can also be substituted for f— in many cases:

"Don't mess with me!"

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  • It also has the nice association of "messing around in boats" than which there is nothing more worthwhile.
    – user888379
    May 20, 2020 at 19:39
17

Fooling around

I would favor that because it starts with the same 'f' sound as f***ing around.

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  • Fooling around has the secondary meaning of "to engage in casual sexual activity." As per MW. Which might give op's uncle the wrong idea. May 21, 2020 at 8:07
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    Case in point : so does f***ing around. As with anything in language, context is key. It would be quite misplaced on the uncle's part to respond 'You should be ashamed to be having an affair!'
    – Splambo
    May 21, 2020 at 14:07
  • That's fair enough, but when bowdlerised like this (certainly in BrE) there's more of an assumption that you should look at what the euphemism is a euphemism for. I'm not saying you're wrong, in many contexts it would be perfect. I'm just grateful that I have uncles who wouldn't blanche at me using the word, "F**king." May 21, 2020 at 17:55
12

Faff is another brilliant one from BE that I love due to the sound, which means:

Spend time in ineffectual activity

I've used it many times with my kids in the context of telling them to settle down:

Stop faffing about and get ready.

or describing what I'm doing:

I'm just faffing about with this code.

I spend my spare time faffing around the web.

9

I've always been fond of faffing about.

It's rooted in a dialect word from the North of England (my birthplace) or Scotland.

It's informal, but not crude, and means exactly what you're looking for.

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5

Not sure of the particular context of your use of the phrase, however the two main ones I can interpret are that you are either occupying yourself with trivial activity, or going through a stream of different sexual partners.

For the former I would suggest messing around, tinkering or mucking about

For the latter, a good euphemism is sowing my wild oats

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    The OP's question focuses on the first of your two contexts. You should add references to authoritative sources for you other suggestions. May 20, 2020 at 15:43
5

You could say I’m screwing around. Or I’m goofing off.

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  • 1
    Merely copying in this or that dictionary definition does not an answer make: all answers must include actual explanations written in your own words, for why you believe your choice to be the answer to the question asked. See How to reference material written by others in our Help Section, as well as this official guidance from the Stack Exchange Community Management team.
    – tchrist
    May 21, 2020 at 16:08
  • Why do I have to prove this to be the answer? Are there not multiple answers to the same question? Well, I certainly wouldn't swear as a substitute, and I have used both screwing around and goofing off personally, that's why I believe those to be good substitutes. May 27, 2020 at 5:44
5

Noun - trifling - the deliberate act of delaying and playing instead of working

TFD

Or

Noun - dawdling - an act of going very slowly and wasting time.

TFD

Both are single words that describe time-wasting activities without swearing. Trifling is derived from trivial, which is appropriate in this case, and dawdling sounds like doodling, another way to waste time.

I would choose my words because they add more of a descriptive and evocative setting to a given scenario. Trifling is frivolous and playful time-wasting, dawdling sounds lazy and aimless.

Also,

Loiter - verb - To stand idly about; linger without any purpose.

TFD

which has a more legalistic side to it.

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3

I know of three different versions of this term, each appropriate for a different audience.

  • F***ing around: Adults
  • Screwing around: Teenagers
  • Fooling around: Children (most polite)

The third phrase wouldn't be out of place at a dinner party or other formal occasion.

Hope this helps!

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  • I'm asking myself do any of these meet the 'formal and polite' requirement in the question. Hmmm, probably not. Please enjoy our tour and take advantage of the help center to figure out how this place works. Welcome to EL&U. May 20, 2020 at 19:48
3

Granted it's rather informal, you could say you're just putzing around:

M-W

putz verb putzed; putzing; putzes

Definition of putz (Entry 2 of 2)

intransitive verb
US, informal
: to spend time in an aimless or idle manner : putter, fool around —usually + around

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    What does Putz mean in Yiddish? chronicle.com "Literally, putz is vulgar slang for 'penis. ' But the vulgarism is rarely used to designate the member; the word shmuck does that. As used, putz is a term of contempt for: 1. A fool, an ass, a jerk."
    – Mazura
    May 21, 2020 at 11:11
  • 2
    Merely copying in this or that dictionary definition does not an answer make: all answers must include actual explanations written in your own words, for why you believe your choice to be the answer to the question asked. See How to reference material written by others in our Help Section, as well as this official guidance from the Stack Exchange Community Management team.
    – tchrist
    May 21, 2020 at 15:54
2

procrastinate, verb (Cambridge)

  • to keep delaying something that must be done, often because it is unpleasant or boring

I am procrastinating.


goof around, phrasal verb (Cambridge)

  • to spend time doing nothing important or behaving in a silly way

I am goofing around.

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    Not sure about procrastinating but goofing around works. May 20, 2020 at 15:46
  • @RichardKayser You're right, I did do some extrapolation to get there, but with the statement that the OP is "wasting my time doing silly things", it's a pretty easy leap to guess the motivation. May 20, 2020 at 17:44
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    I might prefer goof off to goof around here. To me, goofing around is joking, lighthearted taunting, or being facetious in some way, as in "don't take it so seriously, I'm only goofing around". Goofing off, on the other hand, is wasting time by doing nothing of significance. I can't find much to back up my own sense of the usage, though. May 20, 2020 at 17:59
  • @NuclearWang Yes, I think you're right. That's my sense, too. May 20, 2020 at 21:29
  • 1
    Merely copying in this or that dictionary definition does not an answer make: all answers must include actual explanations written in your own words, for why you believe your choice to be the answer to the question asked. See How to reference material written by others in our Help Section, as well as this official guidance from the Stack Exchange Community Management team.
    – tchrist
    May 21, 2020 at 15:53
2

You could say lollygagging.

Lollygag (v): spend time aimlessly; idle.

Lexico

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  • 1
    Merely copying in this or that dictionary definition does not an answer make: all answers must include actual explanations written in your own words, for why you believe your choice to be the answer to the question asked. See How to reference material written by others in our Help Section, as well as this official guidance from the Stack Exchange Community Management team.
    – tchrist
    May 21, 2020 at 15:53
2

I am wasting my time doing silly things and I want a phrase or word for that.

Just use wasting time.

Uncle: "What are you doing, nephew?"

Nephew: "Just wasting time, uncle."

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  • But I wanted "idiom" or another "single word" for that. Anyway I will up vote your answerr.
    – user382280
    May 20, 2020 at 17:25
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Quite a few answers, but I'll add one more: Horsing around. It has the connotation of physical play. I'm surprised it's not already mentioned.

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I like frobbing.

Usage: frob, twiddle, and tweak sometimes connote points along a continuum. ‘Frob’ connotes aimless manipulation; twiddle connotes gross manipulation, often a coarse search for a proper setting; tweak connotes fine-tuning. If someone is turning a knob on an oscilloscope, then if he's carefully adjusting it, he is probably tweaking it; if he is just turning it but looking at the screen, he is probably twiddling it; but if he's just doing it because turning a knob is fun, he's frobbing it.

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  • 2
    Merely copying in this or that dictionary definition does not an answer make: all answers must include actual explanations written in your own words, for why you believe your choice to be the answer to the question asked. See How to reference material written by others in our Help Section, as well as this official guidance from the Stack Exchange Community Management team.
    – tchrist
    May 21, 2020 at 15:54
  • 1
    Go ahead and delete my answer then, because I cannot improve on this wording. It is perfect. May 21, 2020 at 18:37
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"noodling"

Lexico:

The action of improvising or playing casually on a musical instrument.

Last night I was noodling on the guitar.

I'm just noodling on some code.

1
  • 2
    Merely copying in this or that dictionary definition does not an answer make: all answers must include actual explanations written in your own words, for why you believe your choice to be the answer to the question asked. See How to reference material written by others in our Help Section, as well as this official guidance from the Stack Exchange Community Management team.
    – tchrist
    May 21, 2020 at 15:54
1

Sixty years ago, a fairly common phrase was hacking around. This meant engaging in idle activity.

This phrase may have been one of the reasons for the adoption of "hacking" as meaning misusing a computer system.

https://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english/hack-around

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As you are a Muslim, I give you the best words you need.Just say:

I am busy with Lahv and Laheb

It contains all the meaning you want to express. And maybe even more

(btw as a Muslim, you better change a bit the form of your thoughts and therefore speech like f***ing aint a good option)

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    Special advice to a Muslim?
    – Ram Pillai
    May 20, 2020 at 11:00
  • Thank you Straight Path Nederlands. But I can't use any of these. :(
    – user382280
    May 20, 2020 at 17:26