I wrote in a short paragraph describing how a cartoon character, after being eaten up by a shark, swam through the shark's internal body and fled from its rectum. It was meant to be a cartoon/game-like kind of idea.

A friend read and thought it was not very nice of me to have written it in this manner. I suspect it could be the word "rectum" that has made him feel uneasy.

Seriously, is it really crude of me to have written it that way?

What could be a better phrasing or word to replace "rectum" so that the meaning remains and does not sound too offensive?

  • 9
    Chocolate starfish.
    – RegDwigнt
    Aug 20, 2012 at 12:31
  • 4
    @RegDwightАΑA That was not very nice of you. I am going not to eat starfishes for the rest of my days. ;)
    – apaderno
    Aug 20, 2012 at 13:02
  • 5
    For a cartoon description, I'd use something like hind end or backside.
    – Marthaª
    Aug 20, 2012 at 13:46
  • 4
    A walk-on quaterback went to football team tryouts. Coach tosses a football to him and says "How well can you pass that ball?" The young kid said "Coach, I don't think I could even swallow it."
    – zundarz
    Aug 20, 2012 at 17:34
  • 3
    Rectum? Damn near killed 'em.
    – House
    Aug 20, 2012 at 17:50

1 Answer 1


The word


like the nearby anus, is somewhat more formal than the alternatives, which are pretty informal or vulgar.

It is the concept itself, traveling through the alimentary canal and exiting from the waste area that probably invoked the reaction of your friend.

The word itself, 'rectum' is fine (like 'penis', 'vagina', etc), it's the situation that may be objectionable.

To clarify, there are words (expressions) and there are concepts (mental ideas) and words can be used to talk about concepts. Both can be distasteful or pleasant or somewhere in between. But they don't necessarily match.

A euphemism is a pleasant word for an unpleasant subject (these are fairly common, like the clinical anatomical words for potty talk). There are also dysphemisms which are rude words for more pleasant concepts (derogatory terms for ethnicities fall here).

It seems strange that there is such a disconnect, and often enough a euphemism will eventually become more and more a taboo expression, colored by the taboo concept (witness 'commode' or 'toilet').

Of course, anything related to poop is going to elicit a special reaction in the 10 year old in all of us, however euphemized the words might be.

To answer what you want directly, basically to 'spin' the wording so it all sounds ..um... palatable, instead of a euphemistic synonym, you'll probably want to say something slightly oblique like:

...and came out the other end.

  • +1. I'd just add that if you're looking for something more euphemistic you could try "back passage" but to be honest it's hard to write such a juvenile idea in an adult fashion.
    – Wudang
    Aug 20, 2012 at 12:50
  • 3
    'rectum', 'anus', 'cloaca' are pretty clinical to me; 'poop chute' is informal and jocular, somewhat vulgar but not terribly; 'asshole', and 'shit hole' are pretty vulgar.
    – Mitch
    Aug 20, 2012 at 13:19

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