Upgrade my expletives!
February 22, 2013 11:43 AM   Subscribe

What do the classiest people you know say when they stub their toe, get cut off in traffic, or otherwise need a short noise more important for it's sound than it's meaning?

I'm looking for a nice little kit of words to try to get in the habit of using.
Here's what I currently use:

Mild Frustration (it's very cold outside): 'Fuck', 'Christ', 'Balls'.
Intense frustration (minor car accident): 'Jesus Christ', 'Holy Fuck',
Pleasant affirmation (someone tells me they can come to the bar tonight): 'Cool Beans', 'Cool Cool', 'Magnificent', 'Golden'.

I'm not at all interested in long clever things. I really want phrases that roll off the tongue with all the satisfaction of an emphatic 'God Dammit' that are unusual enough to be interesting but not so unusual that they are distracting. I'd prefer non-religious and non-vulgar cusses that I can use in all sorts of company (from peers to grandparents to toddlers).
posted by Archibald Edmund Binns to Writing & Language (132 answers total) 83 users marked this as a favorite
In New England you can just say "Well, now." for all of those.
posted by Greg Nog at 11:45 AM on February 22, 2013 [13 favorites]

Well, for frustration noises I don't think you can get classier than "Oh!". You can always verbally italicize it for extra emphasis.
posted by kate blank at 11:47 AM on February 22, 2013 [4 favorites]

I won't vote myself as classy, but when I feel like cussing I often let out a Winnie-the-Pooh-like "OH, BOTHER!"

The B sound can be very satisfying.
posted by The Deej at 11:47 AM on February 22, 2013 [11 favorites]

I'm not sure if this is what you're after, but in any case there's definitely some inspiration to be found in this list of Captain Haddock curses.
posted by un petit cadeau at 11:48 AM on February 22, 2013 [6 favorites]

my best friend's mom used to say 'SUGAR!' instead of cussing. i thought it was adorable and charming. it really does just roll off the tongue.
posted by kerning at 11:49 AM on February 22, 2013 [6 favorites]

My boss is a 72 year old Southern gentleman and uses the following:
to indicate frustration: "hellfire!"
to indicate confusion or wonderment: "hello, pete!"
posted by something something at 11:49 AM on February 22, 2013 [11 favorites]

My husband and I like television profanity substitutes. You know, like "yippee-ki-yi-yay, mother falcon!!"

("I have had it with these monkey fightin' snakes on this Monday to Friday plane!")
posted by treehorn+bunny at 11:50 AM on February 22, 2013 [13 favorites]

"Aww, fart!" is like type O blood in these instances.
posted by BostonTerrier at 11:50 AM on February 22, 2013 [2 favorites]

Horsefeathers is a great PG sub for motherf---er. Straight from a polo-playing, properly proper, old-money gentleman I knew at one time.
posted by muirne81 at 11:53 AM on February 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

I asked something similar a while back. Among my favorite responses:
My eighth grade teacher didn't like the word "crap" and each time we said it we were made to go into the hallway and think of five replacement words. The next time we said "crap" we had to think of five different words, and so on. Because I'm a big fan of the word, I decided I should make a list of replacements to have at the ready. My friends and I came up with the following 62 words.

Schneikees, rats, shucks, sugar, darn, dang, oh well, oy, oy vey, shoot, what the heck, you gotta be kidding me, biscuits, ai curumba, not again, oh man, phooey, dagnabbit, confound it, fiddlesticks, nuts, doh, fye, no, dagummit, cripes, jeez, gee willickers, golly gee, boo, fudge, rubbish, doggonnit, curses, blast, bummer, blasphemy, uh oh, GBOF (Great Balls o' Fire), for Pete's sake, for goodness' sake, good gravy, how unfortunate, humbug, bah, just my luck, fire and brimstone, argh, gore, bloody ashes, jiminy cricket, blimey, crikey, criminy, jumpin' jehoozefets, son of a gun, son of a monkey's uncle, mecha-lecha-hi-mecha-hiney-hiney-ho, holy smokes, holy schmoly, ai ai ai, flippin' "a".

I know them because the original list lives in my wallet. I'm not sure if Mr. P. would have accepted flippin' "a," and some are pretty ridiculous, but there you go.
posted by MonkeyToes at 11:54 AM on February 22, 2013 [8 favorites]

"Cheese and crackers!"
"Cod ham son of a biscuit!"
"Got all muddy!"

I use all of these even when I'm alone and no one can hear me.
posted by tommasz at 11:55 AM on February 22, 2013 [2 favorites]

Pleasant affirmation: Delightful is what you want to use. Whenever people ask me how I'm doing and I say (sincerely, not sarcastically) "Delightful!" they always react in a surprised but pleased way because most people just say "good" or "fine". I now use delightful for other things since it is an arguably underused word that for whatever reason people like to hear.

For mixed-company cursing, I tend to use "frickin' fracking!" or "Butterscotch!". The word "Profanity!" works great as a curse as well. My mega religious grandmother always used to just say the word "Profanity!" when she was cross. She'd never use actual profanity, but when she said the word "profanity" you knew she was seriously cross. It actually works great. People always know what you mean and understand that you're frustrated/angry/whatever, but you don't offend anyone.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 11:56 AM on February 22, 2013 [33 favorites]

I've taken to occasionally using "Holy Mother of God and all her wacky nephews" as an expression of shock. (It's the English translation of something someone said on Firefly.)

A looooooong time ago I had a boss whose expression of frustration was "Oh, Christmas EVE....."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:56 AM on February 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

My mother's favorites:

Fiddlesticks and little sticklefishes!
Goodness Gracious
posted by ldthomps at 11:56 AM on February 22, 2013 [2 favorites]

"Gosh," "fudge," and "mother of pearl."

"Sweet sauce" for good things (and then, of course, "sour sauce" for the bad.)
posted by punchtothehead at 11:58 AM on February 22, 2013

Two of the cussin'est people I know are followed on twitter by the teenaged children of some friends in our social group.

As a result, on twitter they use "Mickey Fickey" a lot for emphasis.
posted by gauche at 11:59 AM on February 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

Oh, and the Elf classic "Son of a nutcracker!" works great alllll year round.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 12:02 PM on February 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


ORIGIN early 19th cent.: shortening of od rat, euphemism for God rot.
posted by hapax_legomenon at 12:02 PM on February 22, 2013 [6 favorites]

I curse in French.
posted by TheTingTangTong at 12:03 PM on February 22, 2013 [6 favorites]

"Shut the front door!" is a pretty great substitute for "Shut the fuck up."

Can't go wrong with "shoot," either.
posted by en forme de poire at 12:03 PM on February 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

A family friend uses "fudge factor" and "crumb of a biscuit" pretty regularly. She got a pretty bad burn on her arm when taking something out of the oven and used "fudge factor" even then.

I love this thread a lot and will be using "Profanity!" in my own life from now on.
posted by SeedStitch at 12:04 PM on February 22, 2013 [4 favorites]

(Also I love Captain Haddock but some of those are actually pretty offensive...)
posted by en forme de poire at 12:06 PM on February 22, 2013

Seconding 'sugar'. It's quite handy for catching yourself, when you've already started on the swear but need to recall it because little kids are around or something.
posted by Capt. Renault at 12:10 PM on February 22, 2013

I grew up using frig.

"FRIG! Stubbed my toe!"
"It's 93 degrees outside, would you shut the friggin' door?"
"Ah, frig, I forgot to mail out that check."
posted by phunniemee at 12:11 PM on February 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

You could always go really high class and invoke Shakespeare.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:12 PM on February 22, 2013

Shut the French windows!
posted by ouke at 12:13 PM on February 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

My nana, a lady to her fingertips, is fond of "land sakes" and "gads", short for "gadzooks".
posted by notquitemaryann at 12:14 PM on February 22, 2013 [6 favorites]

My dad has literally NEVER said a cuss word ever. It's sort of crazy.

Some of the things he does say instead:
"Son of a buck"
"Son of a gootashnay" (idk it's made up word)
"Dad gummit"
"Some people's kids"

I personally employ a few as well:
"Son of a bishop's daughter"
"menschens kinder nein!" (this is from my very German father-in-law. I'm not sure of the exact meaning but I imagine it's something to the effect of "damn kids")
"Holy Butts"
"What a fiasco"
posted by Doleful Creature at 12:14 PM on February 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

I am mainly using 'crapsody!'
posted by Segundus at 12:15 PM on February 22, 2013 [3 favorites]

My mom had a lot of these.

- God Bless America (for goddammit, I think.)
- Garbage Gunther (a general cry of dismay. actually the exact usage of this one has never been clear to me.)
- Love a duck (Usually tacked on after your name when she's yelling at you for something.)
- Oh bother (Like Winnie the Pooh, but she uses it more ... strongly. Less wistful.)
- Like Sixty (As in hurts like sixty instead of hurts like hell.)
- Stinking (all-purpose modifier: so stinking wet outside instead of so fucking wet outside)

I'll think of more.
posted by sportbucket at 12:18 PM on February 22, 2013 [2 favorites]

"Son of a motherless goat."

Also, why not try swearing with a cliche British accent? It's not what you say, it's how you say it.
posted by AlliKat75 at 12:19 PM on February 22, 2013 [5 favorites]

I had a friend who used to say "phenomenal" but would pause on the the "phe" part so it almost sounded like he was about to say "fuck".

In truly frustated moments I'll often exasperatedly exclaim "sweet living hell".

For good stuff I'll say things like "Excellent", "Brilliant", and "Fantastico" (in my best Spanish football anouncer voice)
posted by Doleful Creature at 12:19 PM on February 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

Mahatma Gandhi!
posted by Confess, Fletch at 12:19 PM on February 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

I curse in Spanish.

iCaraho! Is my favorite. It's a workhorse of a curse word, yet it's not as terrible as some.

I also like saying Azucarera. But that's not a curse word.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 12:20 PM on February 22, 2013

"Oh, my goodness!"
posted by steinwald at 12:20 PM on February 22, 2013

Captain Haddock Curses.
posted by Confess, Fletch at 12:21 PM on February 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

I like Montgomery Burns of The Simpsons. His outbursts are too archaic to be offensive and so verbose as to be enjoyable.

As for myself, by rearranging two letters I transitioned myself to "Holy Carp!" because the "teehee!" from how obvious it is when written, makes it even more satisfying :-)
posted by anonymisc at 12:22 PM on February 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

Mahatma Gandhi!

Don't do this. It makes it sound like a nonsense word and "Mahatma Gandhi" is not a nonsense word. Same for Winston Churchill, Benazir Bhutto etc.
posted by sweetkid at 12:22 PM on February 22, 2013 [5 favorites]

"good night nurse"


"shoot fire" (that one is VINTAGE southern.)

posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 12:22 PM on February 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

Curse words!
posted by sweltering at 12:23 PM on February 22, 2013

I try to use alternative curses around children and parents. These are a few I like. Mainly inspired from British English.

Mild frustration: "Dash it", "Curses", "Bother"

Intense frustration: "Cagmag", "Bollocks", "Flotsam and jetsam", "I'll be gobsmacked", "Blood and ashes"

Pleasant affirmation: "Brilliant", "Fantastic"

My absolute favorite alt-curse is "Noy jitat" (pronounced noy-zhuh-TAHT) from Pirates of Dark Water. For some reason, that's the only part of the show that stuck with me.
posted by Boxenmacher at 12:25 PM on February 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

I've been finding myself using "Mother!" a lot as kind of shorthand for any other expletive that would begin with "mother". Pretty satisfying and gets the point across.
posted by tealcake at 12:26 PM on February 22, 2013

Grandma Fabula used "mother of pearl" a lot. She was also real big on "for cryin' in the night."

Then, the worst thing she ever said about anybody was that he was "meaner than a snake."
posted by S'Tella Fabula at 12:27 PM on February 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

I've been finding myself using "Mother!" a lot as kind of shorthand

I'm partial to "son of a...!"
posted by lubujackson at 12:28 PM on February 22, 2013

An assortment.
posted by timsteil at 12:30 PM on February 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

I find 'Holy Hannah!' useful when volume is required.

I am also a big fan of 'Jeezy Creezy'. Me and Eddie Izzard are bringing it back.
posted by Capt. Renault at 12:37 PM on February 22, 2013 [3 favorites]

Mom used to say "Lord love a duck" quite a bit, but one could hardly call her classy. Bless her heart. ;)

I have been fond of using these. Listed from mild to severe:
Bother (for whatever reason I lost the "oh")
Blast or blasted in the case of "the blasted car won't start"

Pleasant: "dandy"
posted by FlamingBore at 12:41 PM on February 22, 2013

My father, a doctor, tends not to swear much, but if surprised may exclaim "Oh, crrrricothyroid!".
posted by doop at 12:41 PM on February 22, 2013 [2 favorites]

My dad:
"I'm so mad I could eat a banana!"
posted by annsunny at 12:42 PM on February 22, 2013

I use 'for crying out loud!' pretty frequently. It's a little bit meta, you know?

I also use 'frack!' quite a bit, ala Battlestar Galactica.

Another favorite is to just make some random nonsense sounds in an angry tone of voice: "Grah!" "Errr!" "Brah!" etc.

But the classiest people I know? They don't say anything. They just take a deep breath, get control of themselves, and move forward with grace, power, and rationality.
posted by MrOlenCanter at 12:42 PM on February 22, 2013 [5 favorites]

I say "Oh, fudge!" a lot, though I'm nowhere near moneyed.

Or I use French swears instead, like "Zut!" "Putain!" is more emphatic.

French is always classy, even the swears!
posted by droplet at 12:42 PM on February 22, 2013

All the women in my southern Granny's family would say, "Well, I swan!" A Christian-safe version of "I swear," we always assumed.
posted by jbickers at 12:43 PM on February 22, 2013

"Oh, I SAY!" (with plummy British accent)

"Zut alors!" (in the style of Kenan Thompson's Jean K. Jean SNL character, often with the dance moves)

"Mother..." I am known for censoring myself -- saying the swear words but not actually pronouncing the dirty parts, so it looks like I'm being... what's the word for bleeping but there isn't actually a bleep sound? I do that. Not sure how I picked it up.
posted by Etrigan at 12:50 PM on February 22, 2013

I like "sugar shack."
posted by Linda_Holmes at 12:51 PM on February 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

For the decade after A Fish Called Wanda came out, my mother would exclaim, "Disappointed!"

I like that one a lot.
posted by bluejayway at 12:52 PM on February 22, 2013 [19 favorites]

Mother-Ducking Cop Socker

(from an old joke: cop walks into an alley, sees a man trying to drown an old lady in a rain barrel so he grabs him. The man punches the cop, and runs away. The cop jumps up and yells, yells, "Stop, you....ect...."

also, I heard this one on Gunsmoke recently (also saw in on MeFi not long ago) "....gives me the screaming fantods..."
posted by mule98J at 12:52 PM on February 22, 2013

I am also a fan of a nice emphatic "Curses!" Bonus: shaking your fist while saying it. I amuse myself enough this way to not be too annoyed at whatever I'm cursing at.
posted by yasaman at 12:54 PM on February 22, 2013 [2 favorites]

Like many others in Ireland and Britain, my personal swearing vocabulary altered somewhat when Father Ted appeared on TV. A compilation of Father Ted swearing.

It should be noted that the word 'feck' pre-dates Father Ted somewhat. Also, the vocabulary from that program varies considerably in strength. From experience, you can get away with saying "feck" to just about anyone; but not so much saying "you big hairy nun's bollocks".
posted by Wordshore at 12:59 PM on February 22, 2013 [3 favorites]

Some above have recommended other languages: Id you are going this route, I find Russian pleasantly... angular to swear in. The language has a lot of edges and corners, and the construction of profanities in Russian adheres to some curious but pleasingly complex rules. If you are interested, the Russian novelist Edward Topol wrote a book called Dermo on this very topic.

In the realm of invented words, the Battlestar Galactica favourite frak has a pleasing impact, and the nonsense word riggafrutch (which I think I first encountered in Peggy Christian's The Bookstore Mouse) is also delightful.

Speaking of which, I am at one with Puppet McSockerson above in the fan club for "delightful" as an alternate to "fine" or "good."

And as an expression of dismay, I used to know an expatriate Englishman who, when things went awry, was known to mutter, "Oh, pants."
posted by ricochet biscuit at 1:01 PM on February 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

sweet berry wine! (instead of sweet jesus, since i work with some religious folk.) like treehorn+bunny, i also enjoy TV profanity substitutes. ("mother father chinese dentist," which is actually from mr. show, now that i think about it.)

one of my coworkers says, "OH SPIT!" when something isn't going her way, but it kind of irritates me b/c WE ALL KNOW WHAT YOU'RE TRYING TO NOT SAY. jeez.
posted by oh really at 1:14 PM on February 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

"Zang" has a certain popularity in my social circle. I also like to quote Calvin's dad: "Rotten zarg barg a ding-dong!"
posted by mkb at 1:21 PM on February 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

Classy people are just like you and me. And they say the same things as we do. ;-)
posted by Taken Outtacontext at 1:23 PM on February 22, 2013

Mumbling "Franklin Delano" works for a co-worker.....
posted by lstanley at 1:28 PM on February 22, 2013

I'm a fan of "Couple of swear words!" as a substitute for same.
posted by dr. boludo at 1:29 PM on February 22, 2013

I still use "Rude words!" when real rude words wouldn't do.

Piss+suitable noun works around thwarting/unfortunate situations, eg "Pissbiscuits!"
posted by scruss at 1:41 PM on February 22, 2013

"Sugar" and "Buttercups" have worked well for me. Although that latter means my computers now have a flower based naming scheme...
posted by straw at 1:42 PM on February 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

Cock! Cock! Jizum! Grandmother! Cock!
posted by cmoj at 1:42 PM on February 22, 2013

Bonus: shaking your fist while saying it.

I have tried to make my pirate swearing into non-swearing gestures more than outcries. So, my lexicon here

mild frustration: smooshy "I smell something bad" face. Possibly outcry: nuts! consarn it! the heck?
bigger frustration: shake fist, get angry slit-eyes w/ pursed lips. Possible outcry: AAAAAAAA! RRRRRRR! Come ON.
Pleasant affirmation: I also like delightful, and I make this wide eyed muppet face that makes people smile. Also: abba zabba!
posted by jessamyn at 1:45 PM on February 22, 2013

My mom says "Uglyword!"; my cousin says "Butternuts!"; my brother started saying "Poopy-diaper!" when he had kids. As I'm never around kids really, I normally just swear.
posted by aimedwander at 1:45 PM on February 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

I curse in Quebec French. It's très sacred.
posted by elsietheeel at 1:48 PM on February 22, 2013

After I harangued my friends about the use of the word bitc*, they settled on "dog baby" as an alternative.

Otherwise, going polyglot is my preference
Mild Frustration: Aiyah (Cantonese), Cham! (abbreviated Korean from Aigoo Chamna)
Pleasant affirmation: Wunderbar (German)
posted by spamandkimchi at 1:48 PM on February 22, 2013

For either mild or intense frustration:

A friend in high school always muttered something that sounded like "Stafuddagastamudda."

My dad always says "Ricka fricka frak" or something, which is supposedly from some far by-gone commercial.
posted by bibbit at 2:00 PM on February 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

I use:

Jesus Mary and Joseph! (for "What the hell?")

Gadzooks! (for Shit! or Jesus, it comes from God Zeus!)

Tarnation! (for "damn")

For the love of all that is good and holy! (for "What the fuck?!")

Holy Moly! (wow!, from Holy Tmolus, a sacred mountain in Greece)

But I really love to just use some good old Anglo Saxon curse words.
posted by fifilaru at 2:02 PM on February 22, 2013

Badger: In summation, I think you just got to not do it, man. That's all.
Mr. Fox: I understand what you're saying, and your comments are valuable, but I'm gonna ignore your advice.
Badger: The cuss you are.
Mr. Fox: The cuss am I? Are you cussing with me?
Badger: No, you cussing with me?
Mr. Fox: Don't cussing point at me!
Badger: If you're gonna cuss with somebody, you're not gonna cuss with me, you little cuss!
Mr. Fox: You're not gonna cuss with me!
[Both start snarling at each other, and then settle down]
Mr. Fox: Just buy the tree.
Badger: Okay.
posted by gwint at 2:03 PM on February 22, 2013 [9 favorites]

When surprised, I echo Superman: "By the double moons of Krypton!"
posted by TristanPK at 2:20 PM on February 22, 2013

"That was a mistake!"



I use the above if you are someone I have not seen naked, and either never will, or hope to. The rest get the Mark Twain treatment. Words are for effect. I am reluctant to constipate my emotions and often, it's not pretty.

posted by FauxScot at 2:21 PM on February 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

Hoooooly Bible!

Ron Burgundy has some great exclamations in Anchorman as well.
posted by homodachi at 2:30 PM on February 22, 2013

Seems like the "pleasant affirmation" is getting short shrift here. Personally I tend towards "splendid" in the circumstance you cite, and "swell" or "just ducky" when someone asks me how I am.
posted by ottereroticist at 2:32 PM on February 22, 2013

General need to swear:

Christ on toast
Son of a bean pole
Holy sheepdip
Cripes (rhymes with gripes)
Love a duck

Workplace frustration (muttered darkly and with considerable intensity):

Next world, I raise goats**
Ah, posterity

Usually I forget I shouldn't and just swear anyway.

**Stolen from a Randall Jarrell poem called Anacharsis Cloots

Citizens of the jury, enter!
Sit down. Take off your boots.
I think you have known me better
As Anacharsis Cloots.
You pale… No, you don't pale.
What, no one? Ah, Posterity,
What crimes I've committed in your name!
What crimes! And you've forgiven me?
Ah so! Not even some anecdotes?
But out there, the Republic's flag still floats,
Well floated, floater! next world, I raise goats…
To have bawled through life's long witenagemots,
To have ground the axes for a hundred throats,
To have traded friends for jobs, and trust for votes-
This is to die in life, and live in footnotes.

posted by faineant at 2:41 PM on February 22, 2013 [2 favorites]

My girlfriend makes occasional use of "jesus maria punyatero fuck!" which I find charming to no end.

I'm a big fan of "Uffda!" for mild disapproval as well.
posted by stenseng at 2:50 PM on February 22, 2013

My father-in-law is quite fond of "well MOTHER FATHER" and "holy sailor" in place of more colorful words. I love it.
posted by checkitnice at 2:58 PM on February 22, 2013

posted by rlk at 2:58 PM on February 22, 2013 [3 favorites]

I say "Dang it!" a lot. I'm not good at sensoring my expletives based on who's nearby, so this keeps me out of trouble around little kids and others who shouldn't/don't want to hear F-bombs.

Of course the F-bombers I'm around most of the time enjoy teasing me when I say it.
posted by jshort at 3:03 PM on February 22, 2013

"Holy, cats!"

"Oh, for the love of cats."

"Take your cats and shove it."

Basically? Cats.
posted by youcancallmeal at 3:04 PM on February 22, 2013 [4 favorites]

I dated a Marine who said "you say fuck a lot." A 3 tours of Iraq and Afhanistan guy, so I figured he knew from saying fuck. So now:

Sugar (from Mom)
Son of a biscuit eater
Sweet fancy Moses

I still say fuck but try to reserve it for maximum fucking impact
posted by 2soxy4mypuppet at 3:25 PM on February 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'm fond of the Portuguese puxa, pronounced POOOsha! It's pleasantly explosive and translates roughly to "gosh."
posted by ceiba at 3:27 PM on February 22, 2013

Flaps works for me in most situations. As mentioned above a couple of times, bollocks is also a very, very useful word.
posted by peteyjlawson at 3:29 PM on February 22, 2013

I got Cheese 'n' Rice from Mefi, I'm pretty sure.
posted by Chaussette and the Pussy Cats at 4:14 PM on February 22, 2013

What the funk
Shiche (German for S****)
Dang it
posted by eq21 at 4:24 PM on February 22, 2013

I think I heard W.C. Fields say "Godfrey Daniels!" I like to use that.

My mother used to say "Oh ye Gods and little fishes!"
posted by Fortnight Bender at 4:31 PM on February 22, 2013

I transitioned to the word FISH! for fuck because it still has that nice "FUH" sound. Works well for me.

I also somehow came up with "hellfire on a duck" (no idea where) and I generally like Hellfire for most occasions.

posted by Mysticalchick at 4:46 PM on February 22, 2013

I used to use "scheisse!" (German for "shit!"), but I myself upgraded to the french "chatons!" ("kittens!") because it joins symbolic cuteness value to the more visceral satisfaction of uttering a sound beginning with "sh"" (french "ch") in moments of frustration, annoyance, etc. (Not that the french use "chatons" as an expletive themselves...)
posted by tenderly at 4:54 PM on February 22, 2013

posted by MsMolly at 5:09 PM on February 22, 2013

When my grandmother wins at cards she is apt to say "Lucky Pierre!"- which I believe
has some double entendre going for it too.
posted by bookrach at 5:13 PM on February 22, 2013

Here's some Gaelic words and phrases. Gaelic is a beautiful sounding, deep and creative language, tho' crazy difficult for non-native speakers to learn (I lived on a Scottish island, pop. 130, for five years and tried but made poor progress).

These are a combination of swear words, crudities, insults and retorts. They can all be said, in the right tone and context, as expletives. The list is much longer but I've removed the homophobic, more violent, and especially demeaning to women ones, so consider this the shortened, 'tame' list.

Pronounciation is another thing altogether, but you can probably get away with saying them any way you want. So long as you aren't in rural Ireland or Scotland. It's not such a good idea there.

+ + + + +

Iarr muin: To want a shag
Air muin ri : Shagging
Làir: A good shag
Dàirich: To fuck (*very* crass term)
Obair-shèididh (fem): Blowjob
Piseag (fem): Vagina (offensive)
Iasg mò do bhriogais: One eye trouser snake
Mac an éisg: Cum, sperm
Fearchas (masc): Manhood
Breall (masc): Glans penis
Seasamh-boid (masc): A hard-on
Tha cliathagan : is flashing her boobs
Cìochan corrach: Pointy breasts
Beul-maothain: Cleavage
Tha thu 'nad fhaighean: You're a cunt
S e faighean a th'annad: You're a cunt
Gabhaidh e e 'sa thoin/anns a' thoin: He takes it up the ass
Ithidh i strailleanan: She's a pussy-eater (lit. She eats Rugs)
Ith mo chac: Eat my shit
Aireamh na h-Aoine ort: Damn you!
Bigealais: Penis, dick, cock
Crann: Penis, dick, cock
Crom-odhar: Penis, dick, cock
Cliospairneach: Penis, dick, cock
Cluigean: Penis, dick, cock
Gogan: Penis, dick, cock
Bod: Penis, dick, cock
Broilleach: Bosom, tits
Uchd: Bosom, tits
Brillean: Clitoris
Beacharn: Whore
Siursach: Whore
Striopach: Whore
Comhstach: Whore
Druis: Whore
Brod: Masturbate
Cach: Shit, excrement
Caoch: Shit, excrement
Cioch: Breast, tit
Ciochean: Breasts, tits
Caochan: Sheep shit
Cum do theanga ablaich gun fheum: Shut up you idiot
De do ghnothaich!: Mind your own business!
Duille: Vagina (lit. leaf)
Druisealachd: Randiness, nymphomania
Druisear: Pimp, whoremonger
Druiseil: Randy, horny
Druisire: Lecher
Sean-dhruisire: Dirty old man
Deanaibh mi gu cruaidh!: Do me hard!
Duin do ghob: Shut your mouth
Faighean: Vagina
faigh muin: Fuck
Rach-air-muin: Fuck
Geobag: Vagina
Truiteag: Vagina
Ith mo chac!: Eat my shit!
Leam-leat: Two-faced, double-crossing bastard
Luinnseach mhor: Clumsy lump
Lan dhen cac: Arrogant, pompous (lit. full of shit)
Leodag: Flirt, cockteaser
Luid: Trollop, lazy slut
Mas: Ass, arse
Mo Chreach!: Goddamn! (lit. My ruin)
Noig: Anus
Raitse: Anus
Pòg mo thòin: Kiss my arse
Reipseach: Hussy
Sput a-mach e!: Come out with it now, you idiot
Co rinn an samh sin?: Who made that smell?
Striopachas: Fornication, promiscuity
Sodomach: Sodomy
Tha i beag-naire: She's got no shame
Thalla gu Taigh na Galla: Go to hell (lit. Go to the House of the Bitch)
Tilg a-mach: Come, ejaculate.
Tolla-thon: Arse, arsehole
Toll-toine: Asshole
Thalla 's cagainn bruis: Get lost (lit: Away and chew a brush)
Ceann-là: Blowjob
Is dòcha an sin nach eil tuiteamas air bith ann?: I suppose a ride is out of the question?
Tha mi a' sgaoil am leathar a'faighean ràinig thu a bhàrr: I fuck the pussy you come from!
Rach thu agus a' sgaoil am leathar de bhur paithar: Go and fuck your sister
Deoghail am fallus bhàrr duine mharbh siadha tiadhan: Suck the sweat off of a dead mans balls
Tha thu cho duaichnidh ri èarr àirde de a' coisich deas damh: You are as ugly as the north end of a southward traveling ox

posted by Wordshore at 5:15 PM on February 22, 2013 [8 favorites]

I've always been partial to "Man alive!"
posted by Coatlicue at 5:28 PM on February 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

Ye gods and little fishes!
Damn it all.
posted by pentagoet at 5:28 PM on February 22, 2013

Sweet zombie Reagan!
posted by mon-ma-tron at 5:41 PM on February 22, 2013 [2 favorites]

Whenever I smash a finger or stub a toe in mixed company, I usually go with "cheeky monkeys!"
posted by conradjones at 5:46 PM on February 22, 2013

Nadsat, the language from A Clockwork Orange, has some good ones. I'm partial to "grazhny bratchnies"—dirty bastards—and "vonny cal" (smelly shit).
posted by limeonaire at 5:52 PM on February 22, 2013

Oh, and "starry ptitsa"—literally "old girl" in Nadsat, works well for bitch—or "starry pyahnitsa" (old drunk).
posted by limeonaire at 5:55 PM on February 22, 2013

I just found out the other day my dear friend says, "I wish you made better choices!" when somebody cuts him off in traffic, and I seriously can't wait to steal that.
posted by Space Kitty at 6:47 PM on February 22, 2013 [16 favorites]

Sets the mindset right back up.
posted by Smedleyman at 7:31 PM on February 22, 2013

When my daughter was wee and I still gave a fuck, I made "SUGARNUTS!!" my go-to curse word. I still use it. It works as a good sub for both shit and sonofabitch.

For only mild consternation, I might resort to "oh curses and swearwords!" "Frickin fracken" gets some use, too.

If I'm really mad, I might swear in French (Câlice tabernacle!), if I'm slightly less mad or there are people around I need to impress, I'll do the "mad as heck" equivalent of French swears (colline de bines de tabernouche!"). If I'm not really mad at all, I'll say "tabernack" in a real anglo accent the way my day did when I was a kid.

For affirmation, I use wonderful, fantastic, terrific, delightful, excellent, lovely. My only caution with these is that often times people think I'm being sarcastic--and then once someone thinks you're being sarcastic, protesting your earnestness just makes you seem even more sarcastic. That might just be my face or something, though, you might have better luck.
posted by looli at 8:11 PM on February 22, 2013

I find "shite" can sometimes work well for when "shit" is too strong.

The Yiddish "oy vey" is a classic expression of dismay. "Oy!" by itself is good too, and you can repurpose the syllable as the punk "Oi" for "what the fuck is that?"

I tend to go the irony route most of the time: Stub my toe, I say, "beautiful." Drop a full cup of coffee? "Well done!" I also say "Jesus!" a lot in frustration, which is ironic because I am not Christian.
posted by elizeh at 9:40 PM on February 22, 2013


A very useful, very effective meaningless curse.

Supposedly produced, spontaneously, by an orchestral musician who kept blowing his part repeatedly while being rehearsed by a guest conductor of great reputation and dignity.
posted by jrochest at 9:55 PM on February 22, 2013

I've always been a fan of 'mother of pearl', but my favorite curse is 'bleep.'
I think it's funny and anything I think is funny I'll do often enough to make it a habit.
I will say 'awesome possum' or 'cool beans' when I like something.
posted by stoneegg21 at 10:43 PM on February 22, 2013

"Oy gevalt"

"Of all the things..."

"Woe betide."

I also sometimes make a sound that sounds like "puh", but with a trill from the back of my throat.
posted by batter_my_heart at 11:40 PM on February 22, 2013

Any upper class types I know go with english-standard "fuck" or "shit". As in, discreet and not creative. It's an expression of frustration, not a display. Maybe it sounds better with a posh English accent.

Keeping Scottish, "besom" /bizm/ meaning fireside brush was used as a substitution in our house. Also "ffffffAndabbidozi!"
posted by Wrinkled Stumpskin at 2:40 AM on February 23, 2013

Snakes alive! Bottom! For the love of all that is good in the world! Spatula! Fandangle! Rack off! Get nicked! Sit on a cactus and twist! Monkeybreath! Flip an egg! Dagnabbit! Strike a light! Far out! Strewth! Shiver me timbers! Man alive!
posted by h00py at 3:06 AM on February 23, 2013

I don't often cuss at people in traffic, regardless of how much of an idiot they are being. But once, years ago, when I had my toddler-aged daughter in the car, someone cut me off and I said "Hey! Nice driving [here I stopped myself from cussing, and I didn't know the gender of the driver] PERSON!"

I got in the habit of always referring to other drivers as "PERSON!" whenever I had something to complain about while driving my little girl.

One day, someone cut me off or otherwise annoyed me, and I just said, "Oh, great driving there!" After a pause of about 10 seconds, my little girl yelled out "PERSON!" It sounded so mean and nasty coming from her little mouth that I kept my driving thoughts to myself after that.
posted by The Deej at 5:37 AM on February 23, 2013 [4 favorites]

Putain de merde ! Bordel ! Fait chier !
posted by nicolin at 7:33 AM on February 23, 2013

Of course, if you can control yourself, you can also say "mince alors....", which is a super mild and acceptable way not to say "Merde !"
posted by nicolin at 7:35 AM on February 23, 2013

I had a basketball coach when I was a kid who would yell "God bless it!" in frustration and I always loved that.
posted by wolfnote at 7:50 AM on February 23, 2013 [1 favorite]

I just came to add that I say "God BLESS IT" myself.
posted by Lulu's Pink Converse at 8:39 AM on February 23, 2013

I forgot, my daughter always says "son of a BLEEP." Literally, bleep.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 8:40 AM on February 23, 2013

I like "Ye Gods" and "Oy vey/Oy vey iz mir/Oy" for general annoyance. For frustration I like "Nuts" or an ironic "Swell". "Mannaggia" doesn't really translate from Neapolitan Italian but basically means "Dammit" and is satisfying to say all stretched out ("Mannnnnaaaaagggggggia!") or muttered, plus it lends itself to elaboration - I would give you my mother's whole Mannaggia-related phrase but it's in dialect and I can't even begin to spell it phonetically.

I also like to use "Come ON!" a la GOB Bluth/Arrested Development, which nobody I say it around gets the reference to but that just makes it more amusing for me.

For incredulity I use "You have got to be putting me on" a la Grover from Sesame Street at 3:12 in this clip, but NOBODY gets that one.

With young children I find "Oh my goodness!" to be a good, all-purpose exclamation: "You got a gold star! Oh my goodness!", "You dropped your ice cream! Oh my goodness!" This one has begun to creep into my conversations with adults, as well.

"Fabulous" is one I use on the positive side but as was said above, some people assume I'm being ironic when I use it.
posted by camyram at 9:23 AM on February 23, 2013 [2 favorites]

An oldschool Estonian swear word I learned from my grandmother: Kurat! The K sounds almost like G and the R is rolled. It's.. a thing. Can fit any circumstance from stubbing your toe to the end of the world. Literal translation is devil, but it slots in where any English profanity could go. As an adjective it becomes kuradi, kuradi government, kuradi drivers, kuradi chair that I smashed my kuradi toe on in the kuradi dark because the kuradi cat knocked over the kuradi lamp, kurat.

When you have to deal with particularly bloody-minded people: kuradi tibla! (plural, tiblad) which means, as I was taught, fucking Soviet/s! When in doubt, in Estonian, blame Russia. It's... also a thing.

Modern Estonians may think you time-traveled from 1925 with this one, I don't know for sure. Modern Americans will generally stare vacantly and then when you mention the country name they sometimes say "Oh, like that Pauly Shore movie?" You have my permission to punch them for that.
posted by cmyk at 9:30 AM on February 23, 2013 [1 favorite]

I have a friend who would jokingly say, then taught his young son to say, "Oh, pickles!"
posted by attercoppe at 9:32 AM on February 23, 2013 [1 favorite]

Frickin' frackin' Frackenstein!
Sacre bleu!
Sons of beetches!
Hell and damnation!

MAH-vehlous. (Marvelous w/ fake accent.)
posted by catatethebird at 3:28 PM on February 23, 2013

"Long string of really colorful expletives" is one I say when regular swearing is right out.
I also used to say "Chainsaws!" in high school.

I'm also fond of "fargin", which I picked up from the movie Johnny Dangerously.
posted by luckynerd at 8:40 PM on February 23, 2013

Once you stop using "fuck" for mild discomfort, like stubbing a toe, and use things like "oof", "ow", or "yup, that's all me", you gain back a *lot* wider range on your vocabulary; save up the fucks for a rainy day, so to speak.
posted by talldean at 10:39 AM on February 24, 2013

Yeah, in place of Mahatma Ghandi, here's Foreign Policy's list of the worst dictators currently living. It's a couple of years old and it excludes history's worst dictators (Pol Pot makes for a great furious scream) but it's hella fun channeling your invective at horrible human beings.
posted by dubusadus at 11:28 AM on February 24, 2013

Dubusadus' list may not be accessible without an account with foreign policy, so I found this list of the top five.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:17 PM on February 24, 2013

Mr. Nerd used to work with a guy who said "Heroin!" in lieu of a curse word.
posted by luckynerd at 5:49 PM on February 24, 2013

Shiny (can be used sarcastically for something bad)

Ain't that peachy
Oy vey

Holy crow

I also use frak, frig and frick as replacements for fuck.

I am so stealing "profanity" and "eff-word"!
posted by deborah at 12:43 AM on February 25, 2013 [3 favorites]

I like to yell "malaka" pretty much all the time, for any of the reasons given above, and also for my own special reasons. "Pousti malaka" is a good variation.
posted by turgid dahlia 2 at 5:25 PM on February 25, 2013

Yeah, in place of Mahatma Ghandi, here's Foreign Policy's list of the worst dictators currently living. It's a couple of years old and it excludes history's worst dictators (Pol Pot makes for a great furious scream) but it's hella fun channeling your invective at horrible human beings.

"Mao" helpfully rhymes with "ow!"
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 5:42 PM on February 25, 2013

I live in southern Maryland. With the Ravens being the current Superb Owl champions, I've started using "I should have known, he/she is a Ravens fan" for traffic jackassery.
posted by Jim T at 10:47 AM on February 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

What in the Sam Hill?!
Not as classy:
Well, crap on a cracker!
posted by MidSouthern Mouth at 12:06 AM on March 1, 2013

What do the classiest people you know say when they stub their toe, get cut off in traffic, or otherwise need a short noise more important for it's sound than it's meaning?

While I understand your question, this is the wrong question. "Classy" people say whatever the fuck they want (George H. W. Bush on debating Dukakis: "We kicked a little ass last night." His Secretary of State, James Baker on Paul Wellstone: "Who is this chickenshit?" On whether to be concerned about a political interest group: "Fuck them. They don't vote for us."). The sort of thing you are looking for are reflective of language used by self conscious middle class people from small towns who are concerned that the neighbors will think they're "unmannered."

If you're trying to distinguish yourself from sailors, then these euphemisms are fine. If you're trying to come across as more upper class, then these expressions will have the exact opposite effect and telegraph "hayseed."
posted by deanc at 8:20 AM on December 12, 2013

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