A Conversation for The Origins and Common Usage of British Swear-words

A foreign point of view

Post 1

Pixiepuck

I have the feeling I am missing some swear words, are there no religeous swear words containing the word damn?? The only ones mentioned are Blimey and Bloody.
Do you Brits never wish something terrible on the other person? Also aren't there any derogatory terms for groups of people? Foreigners?

In Holland there are a lot of swears wishing you some horrible disease. Although changes in pronunciation have rendered them mild swear words, because most people do not even realise what they are saying. We have a full complement of sexual, excrement, religeous and curse swear words.


A foreign point of view

Post 2

Smij - Formerly Jimster

Oh we have plenty of those, bu the origins are often much more obvious, either because they're corruptions of country or race names, or else have physical descriptions linked to them. For instance the n-word that refers to people of Afro-Caribbean origin is a corruption of the Spanish word for 'black' - 'negro'.

This serves as a handy guide to the most common words, but just as some of these have come and gone in terms of the power to offend, so too do new words come along all the time.

Happy swearing! (Though try not to do it here smiley - smiley )


A foreign point of view

Post 3

Mrs Zen

>>are there no religeous swear words containing the word damn?? The only ones mentioned are Blimey and Bloody.

Not really. There is 'dammit' but that's about it. There used to be a lot of phrases including the word 'god' - 'god's truth' became 'strewth', 'god's wounds' became 'gadzoonds'. I am wary of speculating where 'gadzooks' came from. However all those words are achaic.


>>Do you Brits never wish something terrible on the other person?

Oh no. We are far too polite for that! smiley - winkeye


>>Also aren't there any derogatory terms for groups of people? Foreigners?

Yep. But this was a directory of swear words, not of insults. I had no desire to record racial hatred.

Ben


The tinker's dam

Post 4

TRiG (Ireland) The truth shall make ye fret

There's a program on RTÉ Radio 1 called Sunday Miscelleny. It's a collection of little talks on all sorts of subjects divided by appropriate music. Recently they've added poetry to the mix.

One talk, maybe a year ago, was on the phrase "not worth a tinker's dam". Many people view this as a profanity. Not so, yer man told us. They are guilty of misspelling. The word is not damn, short for damnation, which could be viewed as a blasphemy; it is dam. A tinker is a traveller who fixes old ironwork and pots. A tinker's dam is a small cone of metal used to patch a hole in an old cooking pot. In the hands of a skilled artisan with the right tools, it is a useful thing. To anyone else, it's worth nothing. Hence the phrase.

TRiG.smiley - smiley


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