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Profanity in the Workplace

FlourishAnyway is an Industrial/Organizational Psychologist with applied experience in corporate human resources and consulting.

Holy Sh*t, Potty Mouth: Is Salty Language Fair Game at the Office?

What does swearing in the workplace say about you?  You might be surprised.

What does swearing in the workplace say about you? You might be surprised.

Does Swearing Belong in the Workplace?

Some of the most colorful language I've ever heard has been uttered over cubicle walls and on factory floors in the workplace. And I mean creative, eye-popping combinations of expletives I would never have imagined stringing together myself.

Whether you report to work in a uniform or a business suit, you have probably heard your share of foul language on the job. But does swearing really belong there?

Some people say, "Hell, yeah!" while others say save your gutter talk for after work.

Reader Poll

Filthy Language on the Job: Should You Clean up Your Act?

Hey, potty mouth!  Serial swearers tend to score higher on measures of extraversion, dominance, hostility and Type A personality.

Hey, potty mouth! Serial swearers tend to score higher on measures of extraversion, dominance, hostility and Type A personality.

Why We Curse

It's time that we own up to the fact that we like to swear. A helluva lot. Swearing sneaks its way into 3% of our conversations at work and 13% of adult conversations in leisure environments.

On average, curse words comprise 0.3% to 0.7% of spoken language. Compare that to commonly used personal pronouns (e.g., "I," "you," "he," "she," and "it") that together make up 1% of our speech.1

Conveying A Strong Message

Expletives pack an emotional punch, conveying strong feelings such as joy, fear, anger, or surprise. They are attention-grabbing, too, as they typically consist of references to culturally taboo subjects such as sexuality, blasphemy, and demographic slurs.

If cursing is a frequent habit, you may be unaware of just how filthy your language is. That's because curse words can be a type of automatic speech, used to fill space between a person's thoughts and ideas. Curse words thus can fulfill the same function as "um," "ah," "er," "like," and "uh."2

Types of Taboo Words

Description

sexual references (acts, body parts)

profane or blasphemous words (referencing a deity)

scatological or disgusting objects (e.g., feces)

animal names (e.g., pig, jackass)

ethnic, racial, gender slurs

ancestral disparagement

VIDEO: Why Are Bad Words Bad?

Different Levels of Voluntary Control

Anyone who's ever slammed his or her fingers in a filing cabinet drawer knows that sometimes cuss words can pop out of nowhere—as visceral reactions, uttered in sudden response to pain, almost like a hiccup. That's because swearing can operate at different levels of voluntary control. However, most of the time swearing is done in more controlled contexts (e.g., telling a dirty joke, hurling an insult).

Analgesic Effects

Bawdy language can provide a release of adrenaline, resulting in analgesic effects for the swearer. Thus, swearing can make you feel better and allow you to tolerate pain. It increases heart rate and sets off the body's flight-or-fight response. And the more bleep-worthy the language, the more complete the relief.3 (Many women who have experienced the miracle of childbirth can attest to this.)

The Different Purposes of Swearing

What Function Does Foul Language Serve?

To insult or harm others (e.g., verbal abuse)

To add emphasis (i.e., "This is a big "f*ing deal")

To provide catharsis, release

To socialize or add levity to a situation

To express disapproval, contempt, or fear

WTF Did You Just Say?

Swear words are processed differently from other language and are recalled four times better than other words.  Swearing is a motor activity with a strong emotional component.

Swear words are processed differently from other language and are recalled four times better than other words. Swearing is a motor activity with a strong emotional component.

The Social Side of Swearing on the Job

People often question whether swearing belongs in a professional environment. As a result, some workplaces have chosen to forbid filthy language.

Goldman Sachs, for example, banned expletives in written communications after an employee's email embarrassed the company during Senate hearings in 2010.4 (The employee described one of the company's mortgage securities products as "one sh*tty deal.") Computer programs now screen workers' emails and texts for over 70 curse words and phrases, as well as variations that contain asterisks.

Other companies, however, are not as quick to try to sanitize employee communications. They instead rely on managers to set an appropriate tone and trust workers to use professional judgment.

Language at Work: Do You Keep Yours Clean?

Want to be promoted?  Potty mouths tend to stay in the gutter.

Want to be promoted? Potty mouths tend to stay in the gutter.

Filthy Language: On-The-Job Benefits and Big Downsides

As with any risky behavior, swearing can involve both short-term payoffs and long-term ramifications.

Research has found that "social swearing" on the job—in the context of friendly jabbing and coarse humor—can serve as a beneficial release valve for workers in high-pressure environments.5 It can build teamwork, helping the work group to become more cohesive.

Unfortunately, however, there is a double standard. Although men can garner reverence from others for letting the expletives fly, women who curse in the office are perceived to be of low moral standing. (Seriously, WTF?)

And while a one-time reference won't get most workers fired, serial swearers should be leery of offending others. According to a survey by CareerBuilder.com, habitual potty mouths may have their professionalism questioned. Employers reported that employees who frequently cursed were

  • less likely to be promoted
  • regarded as lacking in control
  • perceived as less mature and less intelligent.7

Companies should also be concerned because office bullies and illegal harassers frquently use swearing as a method to verbally abuse their targets. Serial swearing could contribute to a claim of a hostile work environment. For example, swearing that consists of

  • sexual references and namecalling (e.g., "Aren't you a b*tch today?")
  • slurs against a specific sex, national origin, religion, race or ethnicity, or other group with legally protected status.

Given all the downsides, I think it's clear: Clean up your damn language. At least at work.

Swearing at Work: Will It Cost You?

What Does Swearing at Work Say About You?

You may be unaware of someone's personal sensitivities until you've "popped off" an f-bomb or two at work. It may be okay ... or not.

Cursing is about context: frequency, audience, purpose, and of course the actual naughty word(s) said. But what does swearing at work say about you? Serial potty mouths tend to score higher on measures of

  • extraversion
  • dominance
  • hostility
  • Type A personality.

Swearing is an aggressive style of communication often uttered by alphas in a work group as a way of conveying dominance and hostility.6

Consider: Is that your intent?

Swearing telegraphs two key messages about you

  1. that you (the speaker) perceive yourself as the most important person present and
  2. that you are emotionally "lit up"—angry, happy, surprised, fearful, or in pain.

Consider: Is this the message you want to communicate?

You never know who may overhear your conversations ... co-workers with stringent beliefs? the boss? customers? executives?

Consider: What professional image do you want to project with your language and your behavior?

24 Words and Phrases That Sound Dirty ... but Really Aren't

Word or PhraseMeaningWord or PhraseMeaning

1. abreast

alongside

13. homo erectus

an early species of hominin from 1.9 million years ago

2. asinine

very stupid or foolish

14. masticate

to grind or chew

3. banal

boring

15. penal

relating to punishment

4. Coccidia

type of microorganism in the intestinal tract of animals

16. pussy willow

an American species of willow tree with furry catkins

5. coccyx

tailbone

17. rectify

to remedy or make right

6. cockapoo

a type of dog; the cross between a Cocker Spaniel and a poodle

18. sugartit

folk name for a baby's pacifier

7. dickcissel

type of American bird

19. Shih Tzu

type of small dog breed

8. dickey (dickie)

a false shirt front

20. Shiitake

type of edible mushroom

9. edict

official proclamation or fiat

21. shuttlecock

cone-shaped projectile used in badminton

10. Erector set

a brand of metal toy construction sets

22. tit for tat

equivalent retaliation

11. geniculate

bent at an abrupt angle

23. titivate

primp

12. hoary

grayish white

24. vaginate

a botanical term: forming or enclosed in a sheath

Flippin' Trash Mouth

A CareerBuilder.com survey found that employers perceived workers who cussed as less intelligent, less mature, and as lacking in self-control.

A CareerBuilder.com survey found that employers perceived workers who cussed as less intelligent, less mature, and as lacking in self-control.

References

1Grohol, J. (2009). Why Do We Swear? Retrieved from http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2009/03/30/why-do-we-swear/

2Kloet, J. (2013, February 18). A Special Place in the Brain for Swearing. Retrieved from https://helix.northwestern.edu/blog/2013/02/special-place-brain-swearing.

3 Corcoran, M. (2013, January 23). Why Swearing is a Bad Habit. Retrieved
from http://www.elle.com/beauty/health-fitness/bad-habit-swearing.

4Cassell, B. L., & Lucchetti, A. (2010, July 29). George Carlin Never Would've Cut It at the New Goldman Sachs. Retrieved from https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052748704895004575395550672406796

5Waters, J. (2007, October 18). What the bleep! Swearing in the office can inspire teamwork. Retrieved from http://www.marketwatch.com/story/what-the-bleep-swearing-in-the-office-can-inspire-teamwork.

6Federico-O'Murchu, L. (2014, January 27). WTF! Is your workplace a 'hotbed
of profanity?'
. Retrieved from
http://www.today.com/money/wtf-your-workplace-hotbed-profanity-2D11979857.

7Dizik, A. (2011, January 25). Can you get fired for cursing at work?
Retrieved from http://www.cnn.com/2011/LIVING/07/25/cursing.at.work.cb/.

No More Cursing: "I Swear"

"Is it something I said?"  Swearing is often done by alphas in the office, can be used as a sign of dominance, and is a signal the speaker is emotionally keyed up.

"Is it something I said?" Swearing is often done by alphas in the office, can be used as a sign of dominance, and is a signal the speaker is emotionally keyed up.

Wash Your Dirty Mouth

Coarse humor can help build camaraderie in work groups.  However, swearing can also be used as a bullying tactic to insult and marginalize others.

Coarse humor can help build camaraderie in work groups. However, swearing can also be used as a bullying tactic to insult and marginalize others.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2014 FlourishAnyway

Comments

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on July 29, 2018:

Tim, I'm glad you enjoyed this. Cursing has been shown to be beneficial in some surprising ways but you have to watch your effing mouth around customers and others who may not agree with street language. Have a damn good day.

Tim Truzy from U.S.A. on July 28, 2018:

Excellent, Flourish,

Helpful and funny as well.

I remember when I worked as a dispatcher for a taxi company, the drivers swore after any negative experience and often during heavy traffic times. But we had a rule: If the customers were not for it, we said: Sir and Maam. But I recognized cursing as a cohesion building experience for me and the drivers because we never knew if we would be dealing with some hazardous situation. They would curse, I simply would give them the "Yeah," or "mmm." I never saw a need for cursing as a dispatcher or as a counselor when my clients or human resource teams wanted to confide in me.

I read a report about swearing creating powerful bonds for workers in a Norwegian factory and I can see it has a place. But it can become problematic.

I really enjoyed your article, especially the names of the towns, we live near a few of those.

Thanks again.

sincerely,

Tim

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on April 01, 2018:

adamvalerius - Thank you for sharing your experience. You provide an excellent example of why employees need to watch what they say and the manner in which they deliver their effing messages at work. You never truly know your audience when you're using someone else's equipment (company paid cell phones, computers, etc.), they're paying your wages, they own the facility, etc. While it's possible that the executive on the listening end might have been a street-wise effing SOB who did hard time himself (or herself) in an earlier life, chances are such loose language made the employee simply look small and lacking in verbal self-control. And I'm talking from the perspective of an HR rep who has electronically monitored people during complaint investigations.

adamvalerius on March 31, 2018:

@FlourishAnyway - Thank you for writing such a helpful article. I work in the manufacturing industry. In my chosen (geographic) area, it appears that more than half of other employees in the industry insist on dropping at least one F-bomb in absolutely every sentence that comes out of their mouths. They even drop an F-bomb in place of an "umm..." which is very disgusting!

At the time I am writing this comment, I am working at a tool factory. A temp agency sent me there withOUT specifying how long they expected me to stay, so I'm assuming my current position is a temp-to-hire position. One of my coworkers has reduced his F-bombs upon finding out that the AUDIO from the surveillance cameras IS being listened to by the higher-ups. Prior to being warned that the audio is being reviewed, he used to freely brag, "When I was busted this, when I was busted that". What else could that mean other than he's an ex-con? Perhaps now he wants to shut up and try to be more professional in the way he's talking at work now that he knows we're all being listened to more than we thought.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on June 20, 2017:

aesta1 - You never know who is listening! Thanks for your comment.

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on June 19, 2017:

I know that sometimes, we need to vent out how we feel but shouting it out for others to hear is not acceptable. Just go to the bathroom and swear there if you have to.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on June 17, 2015:

Catherine - It can be stress relieving to let out a &$@?!$& every now and again. Have a great week and thanks for reading, voting.

Catherine Giordano from Orlando Florida on June 16, 2015:

Some very funny bits here. I confine my swearing to the times when I am alone so no one can hear me. Very entertaining and informative too. Voted up ++

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on April 10, 2015:

poetryman6969 - Shame on that man and the person who hired him. Glad you skedaddled while you could.

poetryman6969 on April 10, 2015:

Among the many reasons why I left my last job was the coarseness and stupidity of the boss and his second in command. It did not help matters that the boss comes in one day and slanders an entire race (people from India). He was the kind of boss who spoke of wanting to hire a woman who had a towering intellect. Of course he did not say "intellect". Yes, somehow this juvenile moron with a Nazi side kick did manage to keep his job.

To give you just the most harmless example that I can think of that I thought of the second in command as Hitler Jr, one day, Hitler Jr offers the insight that for an emergency like the Zombie Apocalypse he would not gather and store water or food, he would just gather guns an ammo. If that seems too subtle let me be blunt. He planned to find people who had stored food and water, shoot them in the head and take theirs.

I did not belong there.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on February 23, 2015:

ezzly - Glad you enjoyed it. Those dirty sounding words (that really aren't) are my favorite, too. Thanks for stopping by, and have a great week!

ezzly on February 23, 2015:

This article is hilarious I love your dirty sounding words dictionary! Sharing on twitter and voted up.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on November 16, 2014:

Audrey - When it comes to swearing at work, there's probably a decision point early on regarding whether one wants to pursue the management track. Potty mouths don't typically censor themselves well and that's a key management requirement. It can be a big effing deal if you let loose in front of the wrong audience. I guess your friend found that out, the poor dear. Thanks for reading commenting, and pinning.

Audrey Selig from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma on November 15, 2014:

Hi Flourish. I enjoyed this hub and all the info about swearing. In the past, I worked with a woman who swore like a trooper but became a supervisor. I was surprised, and she did not do very well. Her bosses became angry at her phone conversations and every day language. She was a friend. As I read this well written hub, I thought of her. Pinning hub. Blessings. Audrey

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on October 22, 2014:

Oh, Pollyanna, that's good. Swearing for charity. Every office should do it. Thank you for stopping by and reading.

Pollyanna Jones from United Kingdom on October 22, 2014:

Very amusing article! I enjoyed reading it. We try not to swear at work, but save it for those occasions when desperately needed. Bad language for us is like a pressure valve that we can release all stress with! We also have a swear box and a table with various words on it. If someone swears, they have to put some money in the box. Some words cost 50p, others £1. At the end of the year, the money is given to charity.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on October 21, 2014:

Fiddleman - Oooo, the woodshed, the dreaded bar of soap cleaning out the mouth, the paddle on the behind, and other punishments were all good cures for the wordy durds. Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on October 21, 2014:

Sunshine625 - I'm always good for a choice word or two. Thanks for stopping by!

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on October 21, 2014:

Anna - Glad you enjoyed this and the humor. Have a great rest-of-the week, my friend.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on October 21, 2014:

Audrey - Swear words do make people perk up when they're unusual. I enjoy the creative ones, especially the combos.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on October 21, 2014:

Dolores Monet - Sometimes we do have "slippers" we can barely help. Thanks for reading!

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on October 21, 2014:

cartr06 - You're so effing welcome. Have a damn good week.

Mary from Cronulla NSW on October 21, 2014:

I have to confess I keep my potty mouth for the football..as a matter of fact I think it's a necessary requirement of attending football matches..especially when the umpires give your team bad calls WTF & you effing D head are a must:) this is a pretty hilarious hub btw..cheers

Fiddleman on October 21, 2014:

Great write! A filty mouth is an indication of a filthy mind. Cursing was frowned on my folks and if a wordy durd came out of our mouth, we got trip to the wooodshed.

Linda Bilyeu from Orlando, FL on October 21, 2014:

I stopped by to pick up a few more choice words! :))

Anna Haven from Scotland on October 21, 2014:

Swearing at work isn't for me. You have a real gift for presenting the facts in a funny and yet educational manner. You always make it interesting. :)

Audrey Howitt from California on October 21, 2014:

I love swear words--they carry a punch to them--but not when they are used too often! Loved this hub!!

Dolores Monet from East Coast, United States on October 21, 2014:

I used to avoid cussing like the plague, especially when my kids were young. When older, I began to spew a few rude words. But I know some young folks who every other word is the f-bomb and it just makes them sound stupid.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on September 07, 2014:

Zainab - You're damn right on that. Using potty words while representing the company is often quite frowned upon. You never know who is listening and what they truly think. Thanks for reading and commenting.

Musu Bangura from Nation's Capital on September 07, 2014:

First of all, this article is hilarious. Second, I used to work in an office where profanity was like breathing air. They would get so ignorant and loud with it so I saw it as very unprofessional. Don't get me wrong, I use profanity too, but I'm mindful of it and I try not to do it at the workplace, especially if you're representing an organization to other people all the time.

Great hub, FlourishAnyway!

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on August 04, 2014:

Cherylann - Especially if it becomes a habit, one can definitely forget where they are. A few colorful phrases can make a meaningful and lasting impact on a professional reputation for quite awhile. Thanks for the vote and for reading. Have a great week!

Cherylann Mollan from India on August 03, 2014:

This is such a great topic because it is so relevant. Personally, I find cussing at work to be very unprofessional, not the normal WTF's and FO's but the more colorful ones. Many swear for fun, but the danger lies in becoming so comfortable with swearing that you forget there are women around you, much worse, a senior! Great hub. Voted up!

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on July 27, 2014:

RebeccaSutton - I would so forget myself -- which side of the kitchen I was on. Someone would drop a fork, I'd bang my head on a table picking the damn thing up and that would be all she wrote. Glad I never worked in food service. The kiddies at the family table would be appalled. Thank you for reading!

Rebecca Sutton from Rock Hill, SC on July 26, 2014:

I worked in food service....needless to say, we had to get it all out in the kitchen! It was a relief the second I went through those doors to drop off plates etc lol.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on July 25, 2014:

gmwilliams - Yes, some workplaces and bosses do discipline for salty language, especially in front of customers! Thanks for stopping by.

Grace Marguerite Williams from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York on July 24, 2014:

Yes, there are some people who curse when upset or when they want to express an idea. However, this is seen as unprofessional, especially in more upscale jobs where decorum and professionalism are of the utmost importance. In my experience, there is a higher percentage of cursing in the lower scale jobs where people have more limited education, having NO other way to express themselves. They are also frustrated at the lack of job autonomy in their lives. Great hub. In some jobs, people are actually disciplined for cursing in the workplace.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on July 22, 2014:

Kathleen - Those boys would be rich around some home households. Raking in $45 in one week is not bad for policing potty words!

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on July 22, 2014:

Jeannie - Cursing is sometimes the only way to stay sane, and it's better than choking the object of your frustration.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on July 22, 2014:

Tori - That is how some folks roll. Thanks for stopping by. Have a great week!

Kathleen Cochran from Atlanta, Georgia on July 22, 2014:

It's unprofessional. And I come from newsrooms and Army bars. I usually let one fly when I'm hurt (physically) or angry in the privacy of my own home. One problem: I raised children there. Not my finest trait as a Mom. By middle school I let my boys fine me $10 for every time I slipped up. The first week they both made $45. I got better after that. Now most of my profanity occupies my fiction. It's how a lot of real people talk. I try to write real people.

Jeannie Marie from Baltimore, MD on July 22, 2014:

I cuss like a sailor at work. It is the only way I know how to get through the day. I used to try not to curse, and there are certainly some jobs where I did not, but when you have angry customers and insane co-workers screwing up all day, cursing is the nicest thing I can think to do to survive the work day. Interesting hub and voted up!

Tori Canonge from North Carolina on July 22, 2014:

I rarely cuss as it is but I hear it at one of my work offices quite a bit. I always expect it from certain people because that's just how they operate. Lol

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on July 21, 2014:

Larry - That sounds like a pretty good practice. Thanks for reading and commenting.

Larry Rankin from Oklahoma on July 21, 2014:

As always, a very entertaining read.

Personally I like to swear, but my rule of thumb has always been the company I keep. If I am with people who appreciate swearing as much as I do, then I'll swear away. If I'm not, then I can get by just fine with all the other words. If I don't know the preference of my company, I wait for an invite to swear.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on July 19, 2014:

Audrey - It's better to bite the tongue sometimes than spew the filth at work. You just don't know the ramifications. Thanks for commenting and have a great weekend.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on July 18, 2014:

Jackie - That would be a tough one to explain to a little one or try to undo. Thanks for reading and have a great weekend!

Jackie Lynnley from the beautiful south on July 18, 2014:

I had the same experience as Faith only it was my husband swearing and it was the Big Bad word that my son picked up from him and he only said it when he knew my husband should have but didn't! I prefer life without curses, and def not at a workplace! I am like anyone though when an accident hits unexpectedly but I never take God's name in vain or put up with anyone else doing it. I don't wanna be around when God gets them. lol

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on July 18, 2014:

Devika - Thanks for your candid comment! Have a terrific weekend.

Audrey Howitt from California on July 18, 2014:

A humorous look at a real problem! I wonder how many times I have felt uncomfortable about someone swearing in a professional setting?? Many I think---maybe work is just not the place for it

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on July 18, 2014:

I do swear when things go wrong and who doesn't? What an interesting and important topic.. You have shared such great points here.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on July 18, 2014:

Heidi - I effing love your comment. Have a helluva weekend, my friend.

Heidi Thorne from Chicago Area on July 18, 2014:

Confession: I'm prone to swearing at home and with some of my best pals. But otherwise I keep this under control most of the time. Hmm... wonder what that says about me? :) I think I'm making up for growing up in a super strict "no swear zone."

Anyway, this reminds me of the ROFL hilarious, but sad, vision of the future in the Mike Judge flick, Idiocracy (worth a watch if you're not sensitive about language and mature themes). Love it when the president of the U.S. delivers an expletive filled address to the House of Representin'. At that point, these words have become part of the regular vocabulary.

Since they didn't have a button for #$$%^& great, I just voted it up, interesting and shared. Happy Weekend!

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on July 18, 2014:

Shyron - It can get very creative, and some are better at it than others. Thanks for sharing, reading, and commenting. You have a great day as well.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on July 18, 2014:

Susan - That's a great way to warn folks that they got on your last nerve and should back away s-l-o-w-l-y ... just probably not in the workplace. I like your style.

Shyron E Shenko from Texas on July 18, 2014:

I have heard filth spoken after my teen years and no it does not belong in the work place.

Very interesting hub and voted that way.

I hope you have a Blessed day.

Shyron

Susan Hambidge from Kent, England on July 18, 2014:

Nice light-hearted hub!

I'm your regular Mary Poppins, until I get really, really angry - then I'm more like Bad Santa. But at least everyone knows when I'm really really mad!

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on July 17, 2014:

Linda - I don't think I have cussed all day. Oh wait... Thanks for sharing.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on July 17, 2014:

This is interesting, informative and funny, Flourish! Your article contains some great advice and information. I'll share the hub.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on July 17, 2014:

Katrina1981 - Thanks for reading and commenting. People really can turn some heads with their mouths sometimes.

Katrina Simpson from North Carolina on July 17, 2014:

Awesome pub, we were just discussing this same topic at work the other day!

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on July 17, 2014:

Faith - That was such a damn cute story! The little ones certainly repeat everything. I appreciate all the kind support you have always offered. You are such a good lady.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on July 17, 2014:

Stephanie - I agree that people who derogate others based on race, gender, religion, nationality, sexual orientation, or other such characteristics should be ashamed. Thanks for stopping by!

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on July 17, 2014:

Pamela - It is probably a combination of upbringing and ongoing surroundings. Thanks for stopping by!

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on July 17, 2014:

MPG Narratives - it's interesting how we believe it's under our breath but the volume is so often louder than that. I think people have bionic hearing when it comes to naughty words. Thanks for commenting and and reading.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on July 17, 2014:

CyberShelley - Very cute, Thanks for reading and commenting.

Stephanie Henkel from USA on July 17, 2014:

I do my share of mild swearing, but usually only in front of my husband or close friends. While I'm not particularly offended by occasional swearing, I really object to the constant use of F**K in daily conversation, especially in public. I also seriously object to use of derogatory slurs. They definitely have no place in the work environment, or anywhere, else, for that matter.

howtopam from Alberta, Canada on July 17, 2014:

I guess I was fortunate as a child I learned to despise cursing. My dad always said GD or JC and I grew to receive such language as the sound of fingernails being drawn across a blackboard. As a teenager I befriended an individual who spoke in blurbs of english polluted with the F word. Those experiences effortlessly evoked a consciousness from within me that restrained my desire to overuse such language.

Maria Giunta from Sydney, Australia on July 17, 2014:

I work with a guy who cusses all the time. He does it mainly under his breath and not to anyone in particular, it is just his way of letting our his frustration whilst working. I think most of us are guilty of using the odd swear word at work (and other places too) but as long as you don't direct the words to someone its ok. Unfortunately some people take it too far though and that's when it's a problem. Thanks for a great hub on an interesting topic, I like your funny slant too.

Shelley Watson on July 17, 2014:

When my son was racing if the men or mechanics swore and apologised, I would tell them not to worry, I had selective hearing. Always got a laugh.

Faith Reaper from southern USA on July 16, 2014:

I love your words that sound like dirty words LOL ... Erector set is hilarious, yet it is better than erection set ... oops! hee hee

I broke the habit long ago when my daughter was very young and still in a car seat (way back when) and a truck pulled out in front of us and I said very angrily ..."Get out of my way, you damn truck!" Well, a day or two later, another truck pulled out in front of us in a regular way, and my daughter yelled, much to my horror, "Get out of my mama''s way, you damn truck!" Well, that was it for me on the potty mouth! Now, I am cool as a cucumber in traffic : )

I think swearing, especially in the workplace (depending on where one works) makes the person seem less intelligent to me, but that's just me.

We all slip up though ...

Voted up ++++ and away

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on July 16, 2014:

Bill - I am guilty as well. Thanks for stopping by. Have a great week.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on July 16, 2014:

Sunshine625 - What's a little bawdy language between friends?

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on July 16, 2014:

Laura335 - You make a great point about casual dressing and casual language. Nothing seems as formal as it used to be. Thank you for reading.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on July 16, 2014:

CrisSp - If he was looking for attention, cursing sure is a way to do it. He is fortunate to have such an understanding group of office mates. Thanks for the compliment and for stopping by.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on July 16, 2014:

Liz - You are a funny foul-mouthed lady, and I bet you're a real hoot in person! I bet we'd have a grand old time.

CrisSp from Sky Is The Limit Adventure on July 16, 2014:

I used to have a co-worker who I swear, swears a lot. It could be very annoying but I guess it's a habit so hard to break for him. We all got used to him and his swearing though. We knew he doesn't mean all those words. In fact, he's one good soul just calling for some attentions.

I hardly say any of those foul words unless I am really really mad and I see red color. :) It's all about the upbringing I'd say.

Wow, this is quite a hub and a good one. Kudos!

Liz Elias from Oakley, CA on July 16, 2014:

Great article, and some funny points. I suppose I agree that cussing in the workplace should be avoided...but at the same time, I am against censorship, so where do you draw that line?

On the other hand, people dealing with the public should probably 'watch their mouths' more than people working behind the scenes with no pubic contact.

On still another hand (how many hands do I have anyway?? What am I, a damned spider??!!), there is the issue of "how" these words came to be considered "bad language" in the first place. Any taboo, from its origins, is a form of censorship.

If they are spoken often enough, the slide into daily language, and lose their shock value.

I couldn't answer your poll, as I'm now retired, and previously was self-employed for many years. I was free to use whatever words I wanted. I am equally capable of taking tea with the Queen of England, or keeping pace with a bunch of stagehands or sailors. Take your pick. I feel that's the key: match you usage to the situation at hand.

I always laugh and brush it off if someone swears in front of me, then apologizes to me.. I just wave my hand and say, "No worries; you didn't say anything I've never said."

The ability to remain unoffended when hearing cuss words can stand you in good stead. Once, at an after-party at a TV station where I had a show, a group of young 20-somethings was out in front, and playing some kind of game involving a countdown and then a unison, "F** YOU!!" I didn't catch the beginning, but when I went outside, they were all like, "Oh...shh...here comes Liz!" I heard that, as well as having overheard the game, and responded with a "Yeah, why don't you all watch your 'g*d*m*f*' language, anyway!" That brought a round of high-fiving, and "Yeah, alright Liz!"

Voted up and interesting, ...and yes, funny. People are funny.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on July 16, 2014:

Paula - Don't hate me but I thought fpherj48 was pronounced "effer" and I thought wow that is a gutsy lady for picking that name to write under. Haha. Glad to know there is something more benign behind it. OMG. Sorry bout that!

Laura Smith from Pittsburgh, PA on July 16, 2014:

I work in insurance, and there is a lot of swearing over the phone and after calls end. I don't do any of it, and I don't comment on it when it happens, but I just don't feel like I'm in a position to say whatever is on my mind. I have to use a lot of restraint in my job and try to calm down whoever is calling. I was actually very surprised to learn how much swearing goes on in the workplace. It bothers me a little but not enough to do anything about it. It just lowers my opinion of whoever is doing it, especially since I feel the need to stay professional at all times, but things are changing in the workplace. We are dressing more casual, and trying to create a more comfortable atmosphere so it makes sense that casual language is creeping in as well.

Bill De Giulio from Massachusetts on July 16, 2014:

Hi Flourish. I've worked for a large aerospace company for a long time and I've heard it all. In the office, on the factory floor, in meetings, at the watercooler, etc.. It seems to be an accepted form of communication nowadays. I try to watch my mouth as I don't think swearing is very professional but I must admit sometimes an errant word slips out. :). Great job.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on July 16, 2014:

parrster - you sound like an awesome person to be around, very respectful of others' perspectives. Thanks for commenting. Have a great day!

Suzie from Carson City on July 16, 2014:

My name? You mean fpherj48? Although a lot of people pronounce it as a word, as in "FER-Jay".....it's really a series of initials.....my Sons' initials.

So, I guess...yeah, there is a story behind it: "Motherhood!" LOL

Linda Bilyeu from Orlando, FL on July 16, 2014:

I'm guilty as charged, but was never caught or reprimanded...there is a time and place to let the cuss words flow! :) I picked up a few more from your list! Thanks! :)

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on July 16, 2014:

Charles - There are many times when I would have to agree with you. People carry around a lot of emotional baggage that affects how they interact with and perceive others.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on July 16, 2014:

MsDora - It's hard to know where to draw the line, especially when you may not really understand what coworkers' values are. It's probably best to err on the side of civility.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on July 16, 2014:

Mari - A very sweet customer service lady today said "son of a biscuit" in my presence and I almost responded WTF? I am so accustomed to people dropping expletives that the other stuff takes me aback. I appreciate your reading and kind compliments.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on July 16, 2014:

fpher48 - I love your name. Is there a story behind it? Thank you for the kind kudos and for sharing this. Those poor landscapers must live in fear of even saying "crap.". But it is his company and they know the rules. No little old lady wants to hear a foul mouthed landscaper drop an f-bomb while pruning roses and spreading mulch around her flower beds, even if he just cut off a finger.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on July 16, 2014:

Bill - I can only imagine what what worse.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on July 16, 2014:

Melissa - I suspect he might around his closest work friends. He may not even know how often he does it.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on July 16, 2014:

Sha - I bet you can tell a colorful joke or two. Thanks for reading!

Richard Parr from Australia on July 16, 2014:

Put it down to a combo of faith, upbringing and temperament, but swearing is something I've guarded my mouth well against (not that I've never cursed). For me the highest reason to guard against it is the unforeseeable impact it has on others; whether that be offending them, simply lowering their estimate of you, or getting the wrong message about what you're about. Oddly, I don't get offended when others swear; unless it's abusive. Well written and informative hub. Voted up.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on July 16, 2014:

You give really sensible counsel to the potty mouths. One the hand, I think lack of self-control allows for the cursing sometimes; mostly though, lack of respect-consideration for others. Your "words that sound dirty" also interested me. Great hub!

dragonflycolor on July 16, 2014:

Always a joy to read your hubs, Flourish! Sometimes I think cursing is a more convenient way to make a point. Maybe we should exercise a little more creativity? Scallywag!

Suzie from Carson City on July 16, 2014:

Flourish.....I love this! LOL.......So REAL, interesting and funny, as well. You most definitely deserve your 100 hubber score......a most talented writer indeed!!

The list of "foul-sounding" words is hilarious.....and the weird names of places.....can't imagine how you found them all!

I have a friend who owns a landscaping business whose NUMBER ONE rule is that his employees WATCH THEIR MOUTHS & KEEP IT CLEAN AT ALL TIMES. He has them sign a pledge upon hiring them and sign an acknowledgement that they understand that breaking this rule is immediate termination! It's not that he has a personal issue with cussing....but he feels strongly that customers should never have to be subjected. So far, according to him, his staff are all "Angels".....in fear of losing their jobs.!! LOL The funny part is they have a couple of guys who say very very little while working because they simply don't trust themselves!!! LMAO.......

Really great hub....Up++ tweeted & pinned

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on July 16, 2014:

I've been a truck driver and a warehouse worker.....I've heard a little potty mouth over the years....and yes, I heard it when teaching in the faculty lounges. LOL

Melissa Knight from Murfreesboro, TN on July 16, 2014:

Thank you for this great information! I notice myself there are situations where I tend to swear more than others - like when dealing with my 20 year old daughter! Hahah! I work from home but my husband drops f-bombs like they are burning his mouth! I hope he doesn't at work!!! I'm definitely going to share this information with him.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on July 16, 2014:

This is interesting, Flourish. I worked in the construction industry for 25 years or so. Expletives were part of the territory and no one was ever chastised for using them. Hell, even the officers used them!

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on July 16, 2014:

Frank - That one has always been my person favorite. Why would they name a children's play set something like that?

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on July 16, 2014:

Suzanne - Those words in the table come too close for my comfort. I fear I will slip up and say something really bad. Here in the States we also have a sporting goods chain called DICK'S (they capitalize it). I can barely say the name without either giggling or being embarrassed. Thanks for your kind feedback and for sharing. Have a great week.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on July 16, 2014:

Jodah - Men do cuss more in all male environments and tend to curb the naughty language around women, according to studies. I guess it's a matter of expectation, out-dominating, and fitting in. Thankfully, there are environments where we can all relax. Thanks for reading and commenting.

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