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In cartoons and comics, profanity is often depicted by substituting symbols for words ("grawlixes" in the lexicon of cartoonist Mort Walker)

Profanity , informally called cursing, cussing, or swearing, is a show of disrespect, or a desecration or debasement of someone or something. Profanity can take the form of words, expressions, gestures, or other social behaviors that are socially constructed or interpreted as insulting, rude, vulgar, obscene, desecrating, or other forms.


  • CURSE, v.t. Energetically to belabor with a verbal slap-stick. This is an operation which in literature, particularly in the drama, is commonly fatal to the victim. Nevertheless, the liability to a cursing is a risk that cuts but a small figure in fixing the rates of life insurance.
    • Ambrose Bierce, The Cynic's Dictionary (1906); republished as The Devil's Dictionary (1911).
  • Jack was embarrassed—never hero more,
    And as he knew not what to say, he swore.
    • Lord Byron, The Island (1823), Canto III, Stanza 5.
  • First of all you – you fucking fake Christians – don’t fucking question my Christianity. I grew up in the church. My grandfather was a minister, who is with God now and talks to me in my dreams from God’s corner office. I am a former Sunday school teacher. I taught the Bible to children and showed them how to love God and invite him into their hearts. I believe in God – but I don’t fear him. God is my best friend. God is my ally. God is my boyfriend. God is my best fag. I am God’s fag hag cuz didn’t you know, God is a big fag. Serious bottom too. Butch in the streets, femme in the sheets. That is my God. God is my biggest fan. God gets me, dude.
God wants us all to just get along. He doesn’t give a shit about the profanity. The bitch fucking invented profanity. He thinks it is hilarious. He just wants you to talk to him, and he doesn’t care what you have to say. He just wants to keep the conversation going. Like Jay-Z, he just wants to love you. He just wants you to be able to make your own decisions. God is all about you and what you need. God is happy that you are gay. God made you fucking gay cuz he thinks it is awesome. God understands if you need to have an abortion. That is why he created abortion, on the 8th day. God accepts. God forgives. God loves all of us, even though some of us might have a problem with each other.
  • Look, I can't speak without swearing, and I've only got my Grade 10, and I haven't had a cigarette since I've been arrested, and I'm ready to fuckin' snap. So I'd like to make a request under the people's freedom of choices and voices act that I be able to smoke and swear in your courtroom. Because if I can't smoke and swear, I'm fucked! And so are all these guys. I won't be able to properly express myself at a court level, and that's bullshit! It's not fair and if you ask me, I think it's a fuckin' mistrial.
    • Mike Clattenburg, John Paul Tremblay, Robb Wells, Jackie Torrens, "If I Can't Smoke & Swear, I'm Fucked", Trailer Park Boys (May 4, 2003).
  • Bad language or abuse
    I never, never use,
    Whatever the emergency;
    Though "Bother it" I may
    Occasionally say,
    I never never use a big, big D.
  • Take not His name, who made thy mouth, in vain;
    It gets thee nothing, and hath no excuse.
  • There written all
    Black as the damning drops that fall
    From the denouncing Angel's pen
    Ere Mercy weeps them out again.
  • What's the big deal? It doesn't hurt anybody. Fuck, fuckity, fuck-fuck-fuck.
  • I’m always amused by those commentators who nervously insist that the working class’s constant use of the word fuck is really just “a form of punctuation.” It is, however, no more or less then what they dread: an inexhaustible river of smelted wrath, a Phlegethon of ancestral grievance.
    • Don Paterson, “Aphorisms,” Poetry, vol. 187, n. 1, October 2005.
  • When I want my men to remember something important, to really make it stick, I give it to them double dirty. It may not sound nice to some bunch of little old ladies at an afternoon tea party, but it helps my soldiers to remember. You can't run an army without profanity; and it has to be eloquent profanity. An army without profanity couldn't fight its way out of a piss-soaked paper bag. … As for the types of comments I make, sometimes I just, By God, get carried away with my own eloquence.
    • George S. Patton; remark to his nephew about his copious profanity, quoted in "The Unknown Patton" (1983) by Charles M. Province, p. 184.
  • And then a whoreson jackanapes must take me up for swearing; as if I borrowed mine oaths of him and might not spend them at my pleasure.
  • When a gentleman is disposed to swear, it is not for any standers-by to curtail his oaths.
  • Do not swear at all;
    Or, if thou wilt, swear by thy gracious self,
    Which is the god of my idolatry,
    And I'll believe thee.
  • For it comes to pass oft that a terrible oath, with a swaggering accent sharply twanged off, gives manhood more approbation than ever proof itself would have earned him.
  • "He shall not die, by God," cried my uncle Toby. The Accusing Spirit which flew up to heaven's chancery with the oath, blushed as he gave it in: and the Recording Angel as he wrote it down, dropped a tear upon the word and blotted it out forever.
    • Laurence Sterne, The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman (1760-1767), Book VI, Chapter VIII.
  • Our armies swore terribly in Flanders.
    • Laurence Sterne, The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman (1760-1767), Book III, Chapter XI.
  • The General is sorry to be informed —, that the foolish and wicked practice of profane cursing and swearing, a vice heretofore little known in an American army, is growing into a fashion; — he hopes the officers will, by example as well as influence, endeavor to check it, and that both they and the men will reflect that we can have little hope of the blessing of Heaven on our arms, if we insult it by impiety and folly; added to this, it is a vice so mean and low, without any temptation, that every man of sense and character detests and despises it.
    • George Washington; extract from the Orderly Book of the army under command of Washington, dated at Head Quarters, in the city of New York (3 August 1770); reported in American Masonic Register and Literary Companion, Volume 1 (1829), p. 163.

Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations[edit]

Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 773-74.
  • A demon holds a book, in which are written the sins of a particular man; an Angel drops on it from a phial, a tear which the sinner had shed in doing a good action, and his sins are washed out.
    • Manuscript of Alberic, Monk of Monte-Cassino. Found in an article on Dante. Selections from Edinburgh Review, Volume I, p. 67.
  • And each blasphemer quite escape the rod,
    Because the insult's not on man, but God?
  • In totum jurare, nisi ubi necesse est, gravi viro parum convenit.
    • To swear, except when necessary, is unbecoming to an honorable man.
    • Quintilian, De Institutione Oratoria, IX. 2.

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External links[edit]

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