- Discover essay samples

Evolution of Profanity

4.9 of 5.0 (29 reviews)

975 words

Evolution of Profanity Page 1
Evolution of Profanity Page 2
Evolution of Profanity Page 3
Evolution of Profanity Page 4
Evolution of Profanity Page 5
Evolution of Profanity Page 6
The above thumbnails are of reduced quality. To view the work in full quality, click download.

Evolution of Profanity

Evolution of Profanity

The evolution of written profanity began roughly in the

sixteenth century, and continues to change with each generation that

it sees. Profanity is recognized in many Shakespearean works, and has

continually evolved into the profane language used today. Some cuss

words have somehow maintained their original meanings throughout

hundreds of years, while many others have completely changed meaning

or simply fallen out of use.

William Shakespeare, though it is not widely taught, was not a

very clean writer. In fact, he was somewhat of a potty mouth. His

works encompassed a lot of things that some people wish he had not.

"That includes a fair helping of sex, violence, crime, horror,

politics, religion, anti-authoritarianism, anti-semitism, racism,

xenophobia, sexism, jealousy, profanity, satire, and controversy of

all kinds" (Macrone 6). In his time, religious and moral curses were

more offensive than biological curses. Most all original (before

being censored) Shakespearean works contain very offensive profanity,

mostly religious, which is probably one of many reasons that his works

were and are so popular. "Shakespeare pushed a lot of buttons in his

day- which is one reason he was so phenomenally popular. Despite what

they tell you, people like having their buttons pushed" (Macrone 6).

Because his works contained so many of these profane words or phrases,

they were censored to protect the innocent minds of the teenagers who

are required to read them, and also because they were blasphemous and

offensive. Almost all of the profanity was removed, and that that was

not had just reason for being there. Some of the Bard's censored oaths


"God's blessing on your beard"

Love's Labors Lost, II.i.203

This was a very rude curse because a man's facial hair

was a point of pride for him. and "to play with someone's

beard" was to insult him.

"God's body"

1 Henry IV,II.i.26

Swearing by Christ's body, (or any part thereof,) was off

limits in civil discourse.

"God's Bod(y)kins, man"

Hamlet, II.ii.529

The word bod(y)kin means "little body" or "dear body," but

adding the cute little suffix does not make this curse any

more acceptable.

"By God's [blest] mother!"

2 Henry VI, II.i;

3 Henry VI, III.ii;

Henry VIII, V.i

Swearing by the virgin was almost as rude as swearing by

her son, especially when addressing a catholic cathedral as

Gloucester did in 2 Henry VI, II.i

Perhaps the two worst of these Shakespearean swears were

"'zounds" and "'sblood." "'Zounds" had twenty-three occurrences.

Ten of them were in 1 Henry IV. The rest appear in Titus (once),

Richard III (four times), Romeo and Juliet (twice), and Othello ( six

times). Iago and Falstaff were the worst offenders. 'Zounds has

evolved into somewhat of a silly and meaningless word, but was

originally horribly offensive. This oath, short for "God's wounds,"

was extremely offensive because references to the wounds or blood of

Christ were thought especially outrageous, as they touched directly on

the crucifixion. "'Sblood" had twelve occurrences in all. There were

eight times in 1 Henry IV (with Falstaff accounting for six), plus

once in Henry V, twice in Hamlet, and once in Othello. 'Sblood occurs

less than 'zounds, but is equally offensive and means basically the

same thing.

Several other words came from Great Britain, but were not

included in Shakespeare's works. Today the expression "Gadzooks!" is

not particularly offensive to most. Of course, most don't know what

it originally meant. Gadzooks was originally slang for "God's hooks,"

and was equally offensive to 'zounds and 'sblood as it also referred

to the crucifixion. An interesting note is that there is a store

called Gadzooks which everyone thinks of as a pop-culture vendor to

America's youth. Some (but not many) of Gadzooks' shoppers would be

very offended if they knew the true meaning of the store's name.

Another word from this region is a Cockney expression, "Gorblimey,"

which is a word used to swear to the truth, and is a shortened form of

"God blind me." Also, in England, words such as "bloody," "blimey,"

"blinkin'," beginning with the letters "BL" are taken offense to

because they, once again, refer to the blood of Christ and the


The military has an interesting technique for swearing their

brains out without offending anyone. "They use the phonetic alphabet

(A= Alpha, B= Bravo, C= Charlie, etc.) as a code for their swearing"

(Interview). For instance, instead of saying "bullshit," they would

say "bravo charlie." Or instead of the horribly offensive blasphemous

cuss word, they could say "golf delta."

Most people are familiar with the swear words that are still

used. These "four-letter words" aren't necessarily four letters long,

but more or less, they get the same point across as their four


You are currently seeing 50% of this paper.

You're seeing 975 words of 1949.

Keywords: evolution of swear words, how has profanity changed over the years

Similar essays


, a play written by Sophocles, became a classic due to its timeless subject matter. In this play, the Greek dramatist reflected mainly on civil disobedience. believes in individual rights over state rights. Creon, however, strongly believes in putting state over religion. The play not only revolves on these two political and religious issues,...

162 reviews
Is knowledge worth seeking

Socrates argued that actively seeking out knowledge leads to the ability of man to moderate his behavior accordingly. If one examines a situation thoughtfully, and from several angles, the most logical course of action will present itself. By exercising this method of reasoning a person becomes wise. Socrates would call this the ability to g...

151 reviews
A Look at Public Key Encryptio

n Encryption is the process of disguising information by transforming plain text into gibberish, or ciphertext, which cannot be understood by an unauthorized person. Decryption is the process of transforming ciphertext back into plaintext that can be read by anyone. Example of encryption can be found in history, for example in the...

109 reviews
In search of excellence

... In Search of Excellence Knowledge about organisational behaviour has become very important to a manager's performance and success. Therefore, it is not surprising that writers often claim to have the information that managers need if they are to excel in their jobs. In Search of Excellence is one of the most well known books of this ty...

193 reviews
Radio controlled airplanes

Teenagers have many hobbies and interests and one thing that the hobbies have in common is that every hobby requires specific steps in order to archive success. Some hobbies require very little training such as baseball card collecting. other hobbies take quite a lot of training, to preform correctly. There are some very important steps to take...

172 reviews
Levels Of Analysis And The Stu

Three levels of analysis, each with its own distinct strength, reveals three different ways of understanding international relations. The first states that all nation-states behave similarly, the second emphasizes the unique internal factors of a nation-state, while the third level of analysis focuses on the individual deciding a state?s course...

122 reviews
Aristotle's Concept Of Teleology

In his Physics, Aristotle examines the theories and ideas regarding nature of his predecessors and then, based upon his own ideas, theories and experiments, argues against what he believes are incorrect conclusions. One idea that Aristotle argues specifically is teleology. Teleology is the idea that natural phenomena are determined not only by me...

89 reviews
Color Theory

Color theory encompasses a multitude of definitions, concepts and design applications. All the information would fill several encyclopedias. As an introduction, here are a few basic concepts. A color circle, based on red, yellow and blue, is traditional in the field of art. Sir Isaac Newton developed the first circular diagram of colors...

109 reviews
The human development index

Comparing The Old United Nation's Human Development Index To The New One The United Nations is an international organization established immediately after World War 2 to maintain international peace and security and to achieve cooperation in solving international economic, social, cultural and humanitarian problems. The United...

98 reviews
Us Vs. Microsoft

The article in which I am doing my article review on is entitled, "Microsoft Lawyers Meet With U.S. Government, States" by David Lawsky. I found this article in Yahoo!News on the internet. In this paper, I will discuss the court case of the U.S. vs. Microsoft. Some of the legal issues I will discuss and illustrate are monopolies, The Sherman Ant...

96 reviews
Windows 2000

Have you ever wondered where Microsoft will go next with Windows, well now it is time for you to find out. Microsoft has almost completed , which will be the new era for software around the world. In the last year computers have grow dramatically, with the new Pentium II chip and processors with the speeds up to 450MHZ. Almost every family home...

145 reviews
Shot put

Shot Put Technique (linear) The throw broken down: (right handed thrower) (a) stand-up and hold: -shot rests on base of fingers -arm relatively horizontal to ground -shot pushed against neck, underneath chin -stand with back facing direction of throw at the back of the circle (b) preparation for the glide -center of mass lowe...

142 reviews
A two career family vs

. a one Two-career family vs. One-career family Quality time has become a password in two career families vs. a one career family. Many working parents try to set aside time in their hectic days to devote to their children. but what are the qualities of "quality time," and what differences does a a two career family have compared to a on...

71 reviews

. What does this word mean? The actual members of the aren't even sure where the word first originated or what it really means. One of the theories as to where the word came from is from Sicily, where people would yell ' Morte alla Francia, Italia anela!' (Death to France, Italy groans!), therefore forming the acronym MAFIA. Others claim th...

185 reviews
Atsisiųsti šį darbą