I've always been enthralled with linguistics, particularly etymology (the study of word origins). One aspect I've found fascinating is "minced oaths", the words used as substitutes for "curse" or "swear" words in polite company. (Minced oaths use seemingly unrelated words, rather than substituting curse words with clinical or less offensive words that share the same meaning.) Interestingly, minced oaths themselves can become so associated with the original that they themselves become taboo over time...and the word "curse" even gets substituted by some with "cuss". Here are all the most commonly encountered in English (primarily American, with several British examples). Got any more? Send 'em my way ()!


ass - arse

bitch - biatch

bullshit - balderdash, baloney, B.S.

by God - begorrah, by George, by golly, by gum, by Joe, by Jove

by Jesus - bejabbers, bejeezes

Christ - Christopher Columbus, crap, crikey, criminey, cripes, crud

damn - dang, darn, drat(s)

damnation - tarnation

devil - dickens

for Christ's sake - for crying out loud, for Pete's sake

fuck - fark, fiddle-faddle, fiddlesticks, fudge, fug

fucking - f'ing (effing), flaming, flipping, freaking, frickin', frigging, cotton-picking

(oh) God - egad, golly, golly gee, goodness, gosh, George

God blind me - cor blimey (used in England)

God damn (it) - consarnit, dadblame, dadblast, dadburn, dadgummit, dagnabbit, doggone, goldamn, goldang, goldarn

God's hooks (referring to the nails in Jesus' cross) - gadzooks

good (great) God - good(ness) gracious, good gravy, good grief, goodness sakes alive, great Caesar's ghost, great Scott

hell - heck, "H-E-double toothpicks", Sam Hill

Holy God/Jesus - holy cow, holy smokes

Holy Mother (Mary) or Holy Moses - holy mackeral, holy moley

horse shit - horse feathers

Jesus - cheese, gee, gee whiz, gee whillikers, jeepers, jeez, Jehosaphat, sheez

Jesus Christ - cheese & crackers, jeepers creepers, Jiminy Cricket, Judas Priest, Jumping Jehosephat

(for the) Lord's sake - land's sake

(Oh) my God - my goodness, my gracious, my word, Oh my

pissed off - ticked off shit - shinola, shoot, shucks, sugar

son of a bitch - s.o.b., son of a biscuit

son of God - son of a gun

suffering saviour - suffering succotash


For additional information (formation, history, etc.) see the WikiPedia article on "minced oaths".
last updated 2 April 2014

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