How to Cuss Someone Out

You’re mad. Someone cut you off in traffic, interrupted you, cut in front of you in line, and you’re mad. You’re mad, and you want the person who offended you to know it in no uncertain terms by giving that person the bawling out of bawling outs. Cussing someone out requires more than just being mad, it requires a good reason, the proper incentives, and the right degree of intimidation.


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    Pick your battles carefully. You may well get mad quite often, but cutting loose with the curse words and name-calling every time something rankles you dilutes the effect of cussing someone out. It also wears you out pretty quickly.
    • First-time offenders should get off with a dirty look or a few well-chosen words of disapproval. Save the cussing out for repeat offenders. Of course, some first offenses deserve a cussing out, such as when the person who cuts you off in traffic comes within an inch of hitting your car – or actually ‘’does’’ hit it.
    • Certain places are not conducive to cussing out others, such as the office – certainly ‘’not’’ when your boss is around and definitely not when the person you want to cuss out ‘’is’’ your boss.[1]
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    Know the cursing style of the recipient of your wrath and use it. For a cussing out to be a good cussing out, it has to be understood as a cussing out by the person you’re cussing out. This involves knowing not just the language your target speaks, but something of the culture connected to that language.
    • Although the British and Americans both speak English, their respective cultures are different enough that certain words have different meanings in each country’s version of the language, including their swear words. “Fanny” in American English is considered an inoffensive alternative to “ass” as a derogatory term for “buttocks,” but in British English it’s just a step removed from the c-word for vagina. Likewise, the British use “tosser” to call someone a person who masturbates, while Americans don’t have a similarly succinct insulting synonym.[2]
    • The French value articulate speech, but can curse with the best of them at the right times. French curse words run roughly the same gamut as American curse words, with “merde” (pronounced “maird,” or “maird-uh” for emphasis) the equivalent of the s-word for excrement and “foutre” or “putain” as equivalents for the f-word.[3]
    • Spanish also has its own equivalents for the s-word (“mierda”) and the f-word (“joder”). There are also equivalents for “mother-f***er,” although one, “puta madre,” can be used to praise as well as to curse, and the other, “La madre que te parió,” is always used to denounce the target.[4]
    • German has cuss words that are linguistically and culturally equivalent to their English counterparts, such as “Arsch” for “ass” and “Depp” and “Trottel” for “idiot.” However, not all words have the same impact: “Scheisse,” the direct equivalent for the s-word, can be casually used by young children.[5] However, one way to insult someone in German can be to use the informal “du” for “you” instead of the formal “Sie” when addressing a relative stranger; a TV personality was once hauled into court for using “du” in addressing a policeman who pulled him over.[6]
    • Similarly, while Gaelic has a direct equivalent for the s-word (cac), that word isn’t hurled as an insult. A typical Irish insult in Gaelic would be “Go n-ithe an t-ochas thú” (“May you be eaten by the itch”), which is an actual curse, not a cussing out. When the Irish need to be more succinct, they cuss in English.[7]
    • Cursing in Jamaica, or tracing, involves trading very personal insults that often include strings of pejorative adjectives about a person’s appearance, escalating to insults about political affiliations, and possibly invoking the names of local criminals to threaten the other party into submission.
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    Use actual swear words sparingly. As with Brylcreem, “a little dab’ll do ya.” Overusing any swear word will reduce its shock value to the point that no one will take offense to it, including the person you’re insulting by directing it at them. Save the cuss words for when you’re really angry with someone or something.[8]
    • If you need alternative curse words, try using technical terms for body parts instead of the commonly used slang forms, such as “rectum” instead of “a**hole.” Of course, this requires a knowledge of anatomy and the proper words for body parts.
    • Another way to stretch the useful life of swear words is to reduce the first syllable of the word to the first letter, followed by the remaining syllables, when using the word casually and reserving the full word for when you’re really angry.
    • Calling someone an “a-hole” would thus signify less indignation than the full word with the two s’s between the first letter and the second syllable.[9]
    • You can breathe new life into old cuss words by using them in new ways, such as calling someone a “douche nut” instead of a “douche bag.” The mixed metaphor can be a great attention getter.[10]
    • You can also borrow made-up swear words, such as the words “frak” and “felgercarb” from ‘’Battlestar Galactica,’’ which are the Colonials’ equivalent of the f-word and the s-word.[11]
    • If need be, you can even make up your own curse words, such as Don Rickles’ famous insult of “hockey puck.” Delivered properly, they’ll get your point across as well as the standard curse words.
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    Deliver the dressing down right. When you want to cuss someone out, you want to communicate in no uncertain terms that whatever the person did to you was an unpardonable offense that the offender should feel guilty about for the rest of his or her natural life and several years into the afterlife, as well. There are several ways to make sure your target feels properly ripped into and reamed out:
    • Yell. A good cursing out deserves as much volume as you can muster. Be sure, however, that you mention exactly what it was the person did to tick you off, several times if need be, as volume alone may not get your point across.
    • Show your anger in your face. Bulge your eyes, stick your nose out with nostrils flared, and let the blood rush to your face. If you’re red enough with rage, you can make your target red with embarrassment.
    • Use body language. Get inside your target’s personal space. Lean in as you tear in; it helps if you’re standing and your target is sitting, or if you enjoy a significant height advantage over the target. Don’t attempt this if the target is more physically imposing than you are, however.


  • Likewise, words that are curse words today were once far less inflammatory. The f-word was in common use in the 16th century but not deemed vulgar until the 18th, when it was systematically expunged from printed materials over the next century. It wasn’t until James Jones used the word some 50 times in ‘’From Here to Eternity’’ in 1950 that the word re-entered public consciousness, and not in a good way. [12]
  • Although cussing someone out is different from placing a curse on someone, both come the same root of cussing God out by taking His name in vain.[13] Many innocent-sounding words today began as words that invoked God’s name, such as “zounds” (“God’s wounds”), “odds bodkins” (“God’s body”), “gadzooks” (“God’s hooks,” or the nails used to affix Christ to the cross), or the more recent “jeepers creepers” (“Jesus Christ”).[14]


  • In spite of the overblown way parts of this article have been written, a cussing out, like any other form of criticism, should focus on a person’s actions, not on the person. The offender should feel shame for his or her actions, not that he or she should never have been born.
  • A cussing out should not include either threats of violence or actual violence. These are both forms of abuse, and are inexcusable. Cussing out inanimate objects may be accompanied by acts of violence directed against the object, provided that you own it and can either pay for a replacement if you break it or for the medical treatment required for any bones you may break in disciplining it.

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Categories: Conversation Skills