Could swearing be good for your health? 90



View Profile

Whether you’re a saint or a swearer, you’re probably guilty of letting a tabooed word slip at some point in your life – and it may not be your fault.

Studies conducted on English university students have shown that swearing your way through painful or difficult circumstances can increase tolerance and prolong endurance. In the study, students placed their hands into a bucket of water cooled to 5°c, then timed how long they were able to withstand the environment. Students were then asked to choose one swearword, and repeat the term throughout a second trial. On average, participants were able to keep their hand submerged 40 seconds longer whilst swearing.

Swear words have existed in every dialect in human history – whether a small tribe, or millions of people speak it across the world. Swear words make up 0.6 per cent of our average 16,000 words a day, and are used in a sundry of ways.

Cultural taboos and offensive words come and go just as much as colloquialisms. Often related to cultural issues, religion, or the female anatomy, the power of swear words can lose power over time – the exclamation of ‘golly’ (a contraction of ‘God’s body’) was once considered an offensive phrase, but is now considered relatively mild. It can be therefore expected that todays swear words, in 50 years time, will have been surpassed by even filthier alternatives – words that today, we may not even bat an eyelid at.

Whether you’re an accomplished swearer or are defiantly opposed to it, the act itself does have pain-killing effects. Breaking taboos and letting loose appear to be ingrained into our every fibre, and if history tells us anything, it’s that we won’t be changing anytime soon.


Do you find swearing to be a cathartic practice? Have you ever been surprised by a swear word?


Starts at 60 Writers

The Starts at 60 writers team seek out interesting topics and write them especially for you.

  1. I’m not a saint but I hate swearing and I hate the fact that it seems to be a business trend to swear at people or including swearword adjectives in business advice or newsletters. In the past week I’ve heard three different coaches do it and they’ve all lost my respect. Call me a wowser. I respect people who take the trouble to think about appropriate language.

    2 REPLY
    • I was taught in school, it was a sign of ignorance, because the swearer couldn’t think of another word! It seems par for the course now, if there aren’t “f’ words in a movie or TV show, it’s not worth watching!

    • I didnt hear a swear word until I was a teenager even though my father was an ordinary bloke. Mostly, men didnt swear in front of children. I really think the general trend now is about arrogance (I can do whatever I like) more than anything else. As for Stephen Fry saying the ‘f ‘ word is good etc, well, umm, no. All it does is distract from what a person is trying to say, it intimidates, and even shuts down further conversation. Aggressive anything, used inapropriatly is destructive.

  2. Hate swearing. I think it takes intelligence to express yourself accurately without relying on stereo typed words

  3. I swear sometimes. I dont think I am a bad person though. 🙂

    3 REPLY
    • Looking at some of these comments, I am not intelligent, don’t respect myself or others. Oh dear, Joe Rudyzen will have a field day….. 😉

      1 REPLY
      • Yes occasionally I do and I don’t care too much. It depends on where I am and what has happened.

  4. I remember a few years ago I was so angry, riled up, depressed and a few other emotions added to the mix. I stood there and yelled that f word non-stop for about 10 minutes. It worked. I was calm and drained of all negative emotions. I was in the privacy of my own home and it is not something that I would do in public but sometimes letting go is therapeutic. Been mostly calm since.

  5. I do not swear in public or with friends and definitely not in front of my grand-kids, but while at home with my partner if it happens to pop up in our conversation which is does often, I don’t worry about it. I drove a truck for a few years, and the language never bothered me when I was doing deliveries, I gave as good as I got, had to otherwise I would get nothing done, and I was respected for the fact I did my job.

  6. Remember Dad washing my mouth out with soap if I dare use a swear word. Don’t like hearing young children swear. I only swear in private!

    2 REPLY
  7. Cathartic ( adjective and noun) is a good way to describe swearing. Whilst being a word that we do not use often it is derived from the Greek Katharsis and means to cleanse. So it follows that when we use swear words we are releasing/cleansing our minds of pent up emotions. Depending upon how and in which context we use a swear word it has the power of re enforcing an opinion. On the other hand it can be misconstrued and considered extremely offensive. Some swear words are described as expletives which originally meant a word that was used to fill out a sentence or expand upon an idea. It depends upon how and when we use swear words.
    I swear often but am always mindful of people that I have just met and of how they will react to the odd expletive. And no; nothing surprises me.

  8. Like most people, I swear on odd occasions but in private and rarely in conversation. There are words I find truly offensive and will not use. I don’t like the way so many children are swearing at all

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *