Monday, February 9, 2015


I had a scuba diving friend who was a teacher in the public school system. She was a bit younger than I but not so much that our upbringings were that different. We grew up not necessarily liking but still respecting our teachers and elders. Cursing was reserved for the boys behind the shed while smoking corn silk.

Thus dealing with that current crop of kids who enjoyed freely cursing was a challenge. She was better equipped than I however to handle it.  One day as we were decompressing between dives, she entertained the group with the following account.

One day as she was redirecting some smoking teens to the designated smoking area, she heard one of them infer under their breath that she was  a "motherfu***r".

Calmly, she looked right at the offender and said, "You do realize that is a biological impossibility don't you?"  With just a handful of words she left the whole group of teens silent and struggling for a comeback that wasn't there.
"Oh Yeah??" lost its punch.

In an effort to address the growing problem, she presented her classes with a challenge. She gave them a week to come up with alternative curse words that used no common crude terms but got the message across. Her prize for the most creative offer was not a good grade but 4 tickets to the local movie theater. A couple of cheap dates for the guys or girls night out for the gals was worth the effort.

Not sure what response she would get, she was quite impressed with the creativity of the student's efforts.  Oddly for that week, the halls were almost absent of the usual profanity. Her kids had spread the word and it seems everyone wore quizzical expressions as they tromped the halls mentally seeking alternative expletives and labels.

Some of the entries at the end of the week were:

Fire truck

Fudge knuckles

Donkey cap

Scrawny gyp ( gyp, aka female dog)

Bundle of poo

Fatherless freak

A real brick (and not in the good sense)

Son of a gyp

These were just a few of the many entries that I can remember. While the intent didn't change a bit, the language was a definite improvement especially for the innocent passersby.

The winning alternative expression that week was a term that I still use today. It offends no one but gives me an expression of amazement ideal for public places or with friends. I find it perfect for those times I might be inclined to exclaim, "Holy sh**."

While not for everyone, the winning phrase, "great bounding butterballs," does the trick quite nicely for me.  I thank her and her kids for my alternative vocabulary.

One of my favorite football coaches, Bobby Bowden, was almost as famous for his "Dadgummits" and his great sense of humor as being a winning coach. I miss his witty interviews and out of respect for him, I do sometimes break out a "dadgummit" as a salute to a great coach.  

Now I still do keep the "F" bomb in reserve for extreme, sudden pain or when witnessing an impending accident or after one of my own. By using it sparingly, it keeps its power.  Other wise, I tend to keep things pretty clean. "Crap" is still pretty much my go to word.

While reading Cranky Old Man's post the other day another phrase got added to my list as his wife used the term "for crispy sake." New to me and I loved it. Cranky normally sprinkles the more common expletives in his funny posts so this one jumped out. I will borrow it.  Thanks Cranky.

Is your language chaste or sometimes colorful?  Do you have alternatives that you keep handy when the grand kids or old ladies are in the room?  I am always looking for new ways of expression in a more creative manner.


  1. LOL Fudge Knuckles is my favorite of these :)

  2. I had a teacher, about 50 years ago, who made a comment I never forgot. She said how sad it is that people resort to vulgar language. It shows their lack of language resources to adequately express themselves.

    And when you think about it, what does bad language accomplish, except to reveal low class CHOICES people make. Truly, there are those of us who don't want to hear it.

  3. My mother had some I will never forget. She used "Criminently" often, or "Damnation." She once made me leave the dinner table for using the word "bull" because she said she knew what it was short for. :-)

  4. We weren't allowed to cuss at home, and I didn't let my kids do it either, so now when I hear it, particularly the worst sounds vulgar and crass to my ear. That's not to say I am a goody two shoes.. LOL- now that's a phrase I would love to know the origin of!

  5. I love the examples. I found a site on the internet and the name was crap on a crutch. For some reason it just has never left me as my go to expletive when faced with a mind boggling situation. It just works.

  6. An excellent alternative. My grandmother liked "Cheese and Crackers" which I sometimes use. I have never heard anyone else give a go but you never doubted when she said it she was displeased with something or someone.

  7. My parents never cussed, so until I went to college, I didn't hear it much. But DH and his brothers do... (at least they do use the sh-, cr-, and an occasional f word). It doesn't bother me if it's used *on occasion*. Sometimes things happen and the words come out before you have time to think. It's when every other word is a cuss word that irritates me. It's like such a limited vocabulary makes one look *not smart*. There was some movie that did this and I couldn't even sit through the DVD. Think it might have been "ScarFace"?

  8. What I say and what I'm thinking might be two different things. One of these days when I'm riding the ski lift with a bunch of punks who are clouding the air with their expletives, I'm going to look at them sweetly and say, Please shut the ---- up!"

  9. Towards the end of my teaching career, I was amazed at the language even sixth graders would be using. Totally impervious to the teacher look, like we were just invisible and deaf besides. Not that certain words don't come from deep in my animal brain under severe provocation...but geez, get some context.

  10. My language is pretty mild. I do try to use real vocabulary words. However, I do use a good, healthy "Damn" quite often, and "Oh god", slips out, even as I remind myself that I don't believe in one.

  11. I love that list of cuss word alternatives. Very rich and creative. I drop the "F" bomb very often, and I don't even think about it. I may try to go a whole day without it. I'll let you know how that goes!

  12. I do enjoy my visits here. I always leave with a smile.

    One of my favorites was Richard Cranium...can you guess? On really bad moments I resort to A--hat.

    I grew up with people saying Dadgummit now I wonder if they got from the coach or if it was a standing comment.

    Thanks for coming by.

  13. for reasons unbeknownst to me, i tend to not use the typical curse words...I was not told not to learn them, but generally dadgumit is a common phrase. I can get very angry at time and use a whole series of "talk like a sailor" words, but it is not common. I am old fashion, yet not that old, but my cursing seems to be very old fashion

  14. This was a wonderful post, thank you for the giggles. When I lived in Sweden fifty plus years ago, the term "iron nails" was used instead of worse words. When I was back ten years ago, I used it frequently until I realized after getting strange looks that it has fallen out of use completely.

    Also after watching Swedish films recently, I realized that even though they are much less religious there, they do not take the Lord's name in vain. Instead they call upon the devil as necessary, using many different names for him. So you don't here any OMG there.

  15. Loved this post. Our phrase was "gosh darn booger flip." I have no idea why.

  16. Not another new non-swearword, but the last story brought back memories of my daughter’s toilet training days. (She is 52 now & completely trained. This incident happened a while back.) I tried very hard to stop swearing when she started to talk & was reasonably successful. Unfortunately, I cut my finger badly while I was preparing dinner. I reflexively said, “Shit!” I guess she heard me. She then went to use the potty by herself. She tried to urinate standing up. After all, if her daddy could do it, why couldn’t she? Then she found out why. Her little legs were all wet. She said “Shit!” just as her daddy was getting home from work & walking by the open bathroom door. He told her that we don’t talk that way in our house. She said, “Mommy does!”

  17. Thank you for the mention. I try to keep the bad language to a minimum, sometimes nothing but the F-bomb will do.

    Growing up I never heard any grown up curse. My mom would occasionally use "Hell's Bells." If she said "Dammit to hell" we all ran like heck.

  18. I don't curse very much, not because I don't want to but people usually laugh when I let one fly.

  19. Keith,
    Ha,ha glad you liked that one. It tickled me also.

    I really don't know why people who really abuse it do. I guess it makes the feel grown up while in actually, it shows the opposite.

    Yep, parents really saw through our attempts, even when we tried to be sneaky.

    You got me curious and I Googled that phrase. It comes from an 18th century children's book by that title.

    Linda W,
    Ooh, I like "crap on a crutch". May borrow that one.

    My brother used that saying also and if he were really ticked, he would add "got all muddy" to the saying.

    I know, I really don't like the movies written by 12 year old boys that just bombard you with expletives. It gets annoying then boring.

    At least they would understand you. Sometimes you have to speak the language to get results.

    I know, it is so disrespectful. I agree also though that sometimes I surprise myself in unusual circumstances.

    Linda R,
    Well then when you do say "Oh God", you really aren't swearing. Interesting thought.

    Ha ha, let me know how that works out.

    Thanks, glad I can amuse. Cleverly disguised but I get it. I think dadgummit is southern in origin. At least Bobby was and those I have heard use it were deep south types.

    Brite mist,
    Don't really think it is old fashioned, just common courtesy. If I hit my thumb hard enough with a hammer, I can get creative also.

    Ooh, I like getting another culture's view point. I kind of like "iron nails." Wonder why it went out of favor in Sweden?

    Ha ha, had that been entered, think you would have won the theater tickets.

    Busted. Kids pick up swear words quicker that any other and will bust a parent in a heart beat.

    My mom used "Dammit to Hell" also and it was usually a sign of the last straw having been reached.

  20. Stephen,
    Ha, that is probably because you look like such a nice guy and it sounds incongruous coming from you. Take it as a compliment.

  21. I'm afraid I'm an offender. I tend to use the phrase, my boss is a F*g idiot far too often. Of course, if he wasn't one I wouldn't need to.

    However, when my children were small I tried very hard not to swear. So when my son came home from daycare at the age of 5, and told me "Jimmy got into trouble because he said the X word" that became our go to phrase.

    That only worked until they learned the French pronunciation of le phoque (a seal) which is fok. "But mom, I was only saying seal in French" Kids!

  22. I don't cuss much (never have)--but every once in awhile --the S*** word comes out --or Damn.... I never use the "F" word...

    When one hurts him or herself, sometimes a word like "S***" or Damn just pops out... Somehow, it helps the situation instead of saying something like "Oh Darn"...


  23. Ha, I like Fudge Knuckles too and may well introduce it to my repertoire of "naughty" words! I was never allowed to swear at home as a child, so... have to make up for it now!

    I was thinking about your post as I was cooking the evening meal..., (I needed time for the whole swearing thing to roll around in my head!) I realised that I don't mind swearing as such, but it is the attitude of the person that is swearing that I either understand and empathise with, or loath! There is sincere swearing that is good, honest, appropriate and pure.. (and some of it can be creative and bring a smile to the face and gladden the heart!), and there is nasty, vindictive, hurtful, rude or "smart" swearing that I detest. The words used may be the same in both cases, but the person that says them, and their intention, might be polar opposites!

  24. I wish I could say that only words as pure as the driven snow come out of my mouth, but I'd be a "liar, liar, pants on fire" if I did. I've been known to let a few choice words fly when my buttons have really been pushed. Not that I'm proud of it. I grew up around a cussin' daddy and picked up a few things from him. lol! I really do try to restrain myself and say "biscuit eater" sometimes, but I think I'm going to change that to "fudge knuckles"...I like that one!

  25. I use dammit, love a duck, and jack wagon... mostly...

  26. My 7 year old granddaughter calmly told me that crap wasn't a nice word so I looked for an alternative to my favorite expletive and began using carp:)

  27. Eileen,
    Oh how funny. When I saw the movie Philomena with Judy Dench, I cracked up when her Irish character swore with an accent. She also said "fook" which I found not offensive in the least but adorable.

    They actually did a study--hope I didn't pay for it-- that swearing really helped to relieve pain. I know for me it does seem to help.

    You nailed it Peter. When swearing is meant to disparage or insult someone it is totally different from a spontaneous assessment of a situation. Intent makes all the difference.

    Our role models really make a difference and we tend to mimic those we love. I do like "biscuit eater" though and will add it to my growing cache of harmless expletives.

    Ok, jack wagon goes into the pot. I really like that one.

    Grannie Annie,
    Oh dear, crap isn't nice? And here I thought it was a good alternative. Carp will work however:))

  28. I guess I still say "Darn".... not much of a punch. Now that I'm grown up, I guess I could keep a few colorful ones in reserve. LOL

  29. I use the f and sh word when I do something clumsy like drop a pot of pasta sauce on the floor or cut my finger while making dinner so everything gets all bloody. By the way the English say Bloody 'ell.

  30. After twenty years teaching middle and then high school in an urban setting, you'd think I'd be numb to it all. No such luck. On the plus side, it made me clean up my act when I realized how ineffective constant use of some words renders them.

  31. Interesting what the teacher did and those were interesting phrases the kids came up with. I never heard curse words until I married and my hubby went into the better way to be introduced to all kinds of them. lol I got in the habit of saying the sh word but that was pretty much the only one I used for several years. When the children came along I stopped using that word with several slip-ups now and then. Now I mostly say good grief or fiddle sticks...but once in a great while if I am very angry sh pops out. Big hugs sweet Patti and nose kisses for the sweeties. Thank you for all your sweet comments on my blog. Have a great weekend and I hope your bumps and bruises are all gone.

  32. Manzi,
    Hey, if "darn" works, why fix what isn't broke? I have been known to whip out a wicked "drat". About the same amount of punch:))

    Barbara Corrigan,
    Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I have always wondered what the inference was to "Bloody". I guess to the Brits, that is a really bad one. To me though, nothing said with a British accent sounds bad.

    That is what happens to me watching a movie that is obsessed with profanity. It loses all shock value and just annoys.

    I know what you mean. My husband was in the Army and those guys cuss 24/7. I kind of like fiddle sticks. That'll work. Feeling much better, thanks. Almost back to normal.

  33. Well, I can't say that I am exactly chaste ... but I am of the generation that finds the F word offensive. I use it so seldom that I actually wrote a blog entry about the one and only time I ever used it in the ER.

  34. For the most part, very creative alternatives. At least your teacher friend made the students pause for thought.

    "Piffle-Snit" is my go-to for a substitute.

  35. Darn is my fav. I don't enjoy hearing swear words, never have. Luckily my kids do not use them in my presence. I didn't have kids in school use them around me either:)

  36. I think I really only curse in the car when nobody can hear me ;) or when I hurt myself like accidentally kicking the leg of a chair or something LOL
    Love the winnder phrase - if I heard that I'd probably start laughing. What an amazing challenge your friend came up with. And I so love her answer to what the teens said to her - perfect!
    Have an amazing Sunday!

  37. I must say following having my mouth washed out with soap by my mother for using naughty words as a child to this day I never DELIBERATLY use them. Unfortunately under some circumstances they just seem come out of my mouth unintentionally.

  38. Vulgar language will probably never end. Sad really because as the Bible says, "for by the fullness of the heart the mouth speaks". You can only imagine what goes inside those hearts.

  39. When I was a child, mom used to exclaim, "ekkuso!" When I would ask her what it meant she would say, "oh or shucks". It wasn't until I was much older that I learned it meant "shit".