I know Americans commonly use "damn" or "damned" to describe things. Sometimes, more appropriately, it's even "darn" or "darned".

For example,

This damn/damned computer is too slow.

However, I can't wrap my head around when to use "damn" and when to use "damned". Or is only one of them correct?

  • 16
    I just love these "how to curse properly" questions... :D
    – user730
    Commented Dec 17, 2010 at 4:07
  • @J -- lol I haven't thought of it that way =)
    – BeemerGuy
    Commented Dec 17, 2010 at 4:13
  • hmm ... could always avoid it altogether and use the British "bloody", as in "This bloody computer is too slow." I've seen where the two terms are used for the same purpose, just depending on which side of "the pond" you come from. :)
    – Will
    Commented Dec 17, 2010 at 15:43
  • @Will: Both are technically blasphemous, damn more so I think. The UK populous do not really consider blasphemy as bad language any more. You would have to search high and low, mainly in an evangelical church, to find someone offended by damn or bloody.
    – Orbling
    Commented Dec 17, 2010 at 20:31
  • @Orbling: so true. Same here in the U.S.; I think many, if not most, Americans have become so desensitized to such things that most of us just shrug it off as nothing. Damn is much less likely to offend anyone here than a lot of other [colorful] terms that I could think of.
    – Will
    Commented Dec 17, 2010 at 23:50

6 Answers 6


When used as adjectives, damn and damned are synonymous. I would suggest that damn is more common, but that's based solely on anecdotal evidence and the fact that it's slightly easier/faster to say which is key in situations where it's appropriate :P

  • @Synetech - I can't possibly imagine how you believe damn isn't a verb. They damn him with faint praise. Future generations will damn us for our sins. Etc.
    – Dusty
    Commented Feb 21, 2013 at 20:12
  • @Dusty, oops, I misplaced the not. Just a second; I’ll fix it…
    – Synetech
    Commented Feb 21, 2013 at 20:20
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    Except that damn is a verb, not an adjective. It is used interchangeably with damned simply because people do not enunciate the d at the end, which makes damned sound like damn. It is the same reason that the Internet generation keeps writing should of, would of, and could of. Yes, some dictionaries include damn as an adjective, but that’s all the more troubling. Just because lots of people do something wrong does not make it correct or acceptable.
    – Synetech
    Commented Feb 21, 2013 at 20:22
  • @Synetech: actually, that is the only way to make something correct and acceptable. Commented Aug 31, 2013 at 8:26
  • @JanusBahsJacquet, de facto ≠ de jure.
    – Synetech
    Commented Aug 31, 2013 at 14:07

I agree with Dusty in the main, but damned can be said for emphasis and seems more deliberate and harsher than damn. When John D. Rockefeller said "the public be damned" it had an especially contemptuous feel to it. When the Duke of Wellington, threatened with publication of embarrassing information about himself, told the would-be blackmailer "Publish and be damned," it had a defiant, lordly ring to it.

You can say damn in a friendly way, but damned goes that extra mile.

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    But damned in your examples are rather past-participle verbs, so you couldn't have used damn there anyway, no?
    – BeemerGuy
    Commented Dec 17, 2010 at 4:14
  • 2
    OK, how about when Lady Macbeth says "Out damned spot!"
    – Robusto
    Commented Dec 17, 2010 at 4:27
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    The adjective used to be damned all the time before damn came along, so in Shakespearian times, this would have been the only option.
    – Kosmonaut
    Commented Dec 17, 2010 at 12:50
  • @Kosmonaut: Plus one. I think if you want to be pedantic, it's worth noting that referring to something as "damned" is expressing a certainty (or hope) that it will, at some point, be consigned to the flames of Hell. There's not really any way that "damn" conveys that meaning.
    – bikeboy389
    Commented Dec 17, 2010 at 14:36
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    I think the real distinction you might be noticing is the difference between the verb/past participle and the adjective/interjection/noun ("damn/dammit"). I think when "damn" is used separately from the verb sense, "damn" just intensifies the phrase, makes it ruder, angrier — all the generic things a curse word does. On the other hand, "damn", the verb, actually means specifically to curse/condemn someone. So if you say something is "damned", it evokes that extra harsher meaning, but this is also true if you say "damn you!", with "damn" as a verb. That's my damn hypothesis anyway.
    – Kosmonaut
    Commented Dec 17, 2010 at 21:57

Damn is used now in place of Damned more or less synonymously, with the exception (as Robusto pointed out) that if something "is damned" or "be damned" then it calls to mind its more literal meaning of being consigned to Hell. This meaning is where the profanity derives from. Modern usage "This damned computer!" doesn't really carry that meaning.

Darn and Darned are similar. Etymology Online says that this word is a tame curse word used instead of Damn in New England when cursing was punishable by law. I feel that over time the word Damn has become less and less offensive, however I'd still rather my children not say it and use Darn instead.

  • My question is: why use either? Since the intent remains the same, I really don't see the difference between darn and damn except, well, darn is certainly perceived to be way less offensive! Another example is fudge, which is nothing more than a toned-down version of the f-word. Yet another example is shoot, which is basically the s-word. As to damn 's becoming less offensive, eh, not quite. Certainly not in the Northeast (US). But damn it or damn you or g-ddamn it are likely to be frowned upon. It's also interesting how enunciation matters. Sometimes dammit is fine!
    – Jimi Oke
    Commented Dec 18, 2010 at 5:12
  • @Jimi Oke: Are you asking me when someone should use an expletive or curse word? Or a "tame" curse word? People use curse words when they want to express anger, frustration, etc, and they use tamer ones when they want to avoid offending. "fudge" is not a synonym for "fuck". The latter is more offensive and (usually) carries a stronger sense of emotion. The same goes for darn and damn. "Darn" is less offensive than "damn" but I'm pretty sure "damn" is far more unobtrusive than it used to be. You hear it on TV and radio now, but that always wasn't true. Commented Dec 20, 2010 at 14:03
  • Thanks for the explanation but that was only a rhetorical question. I perfectly understand the reasons for and the differences in usage between damn and darn, fuck and fudge, and all the others. My question only expressed the frustration: "Why bother with these words anyway?" I don't use any of them, but if I were to do so, I'd go for the real thing! Taming something down in the name of not offending is not my cup of tea. I'd rather just keep quiet :)
    – Jimi Oke
    Commented Dec 20, 2010 at 15:24
  • @Jimi Oke: We tame things down all the time. My point was that it's not necessarily a case of a fake thing versus a real thing. Sometimes you only need to express a mild emotion so you use a mild word. If I drop my pen on the floor, I might say "darn". If I am driving down the road and some jerk cuts me off and nearly causes an accident, I am likely to unleash much worse. Commented Dec 20, 2010 at 16:20

I think damn is a verb and damned is an adjective explaining a noun. That is, if I am trying to personally do something to the subject, I'd say "damn that country", which would result in the country being damned; if I want to simply express the state of something (i.e., damned), I'd say "damned country."

I guess I have to personally responsible for the verb, but the adjective is merely a description of the subject. "Damn that country" means because of my words, the country is damned (if it hasn't been damned previously). "That damned country" means the country is already damned. .

  • Specifically, damned is a past participle used as an adjective in this context. But many people also use damn the same way, as it's informal language. Commented Aug 31, 2013 at 5:45

I'm going to argue that "damn" used as an adjective is short for "damned." My reasoning is that it can still take a subject. "Goddamn pirates!" vs. "God-damned pirates."

I would swear I've seen it in literature with an apostrophe: "The damn' pirates" but I haven't managed to find an actual reference.


For me: There are many euphemisms for words that have been considered swear words, curses, expletives or religious names taken in vain - different subject.

Damn and damned are used interchangeably these days, although the usage should be fairly obvious. 'Damn' is a verb used as an interjection and can be used on its own. "Damn!" 'Damned is an adjective and adverb and suggest, 'it has been condemned or deserves condemnation'. So, 'This damned computer is too slow.' The computer deserves condemnation for its poor performance. "Damn this computer!" - I am condemning this computer to Hell.

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