Is it Manly to Swear?

by Brett & Kate McKay on June 25, 2008 · 199 comments

in Blog, Is It Manly?

We thought it would be fun to start a weekly survey in which we ask Art of Manliness readers whether they think certain actions/jobs/cars/etc are manly. Manliness is a pretty vague concept and means different things to different people. We’re interested in what you think is manly or not and hopefully we can start some interesting discussion and civil debate. We plan on posting the questions on Thursday and we’ll run it in the sidebar for a week. So let’s get started with the first weekly edition of the Art of Manliness “Is it manly?” survey.

Is swearing manly? Vote. Discuss.

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{democracy:12}

{ 199 comments… read them below or add one }

101 Nick January 6, 2010 at 10:40 am

What the fu** kind of question is that anyway. Of course its manly to swear. You just can’t swear in front of women or children. If you need to ask your friend, “What the fu** were you thinking when you…?”, there is no better way to phrase that sentence. However, you should not ask the produce clerk at the grocery store, “Where the fu** are the baby carrots?”…this would be improper use. Swear with your manly friends, and you can be a swearing gentleman…it’s that easy.

102 John Michael January 6, 2010 at 11:03 am

Swearing is not manly. It shows a lack of imagination or vocabulary that you can not express yourself better than a 4 letter profanity.

Some will argue that as long as there are no women or children present it’s okay. The catch here is what you do when they aren’t around can easily become habit and next thing you know you are dropping the f-bomb in mixed company and not even realizing it.

Also, Swearing does not win you an argument or make you sound more manily or intelligent. It just makes you sound crass

103 Glen Tickle January 6, 2010 at 12:25 pm

A man should swear with purpose. When one swears it should be with effect and not just a filler. These words hold more impact when used sparingly.

104 Robtherobot January 6, 2010 at 7:29 pm

My Jr High Math teacher (who also taught metal-shop) had a favorite saying:
“Profanity is the act of a feeble mind trying to express itself forceably”.
It takes intellectual prowess to express deep emotions in the heat of the moment without resorting to crass, cheap, shortcut words.
That being said; sometimes (but rarely) the only word that can so poignantly and effectively communicate a negative emotion or connotation may just happen to be a strong word.

105 Gregor Ausman January 8, 2010 at 3:46 am

Andrew, et. al.,

Covering up a curse just makes you look like a jackass. It fails to convey the emotion being broadcast, and nobody past 6th grade should do it. I will make an exception for ‘Oh, crap’. If it’s good enough for Hellboy, it’s good enough for me.

I’d say that profanity in general is an art unto itself. If overdone it simply makes one look ignorant. We’ve all been stuck in line behind some piece of white trash who can’t utter a sentence without cursing. It dilutes the effect. I’ve been told that cursing is a weak mind’s way of appearing strong. In the case of those who overdo it, that’s definiely true.

I think swearing should be kept to a relative minimum. That way, when it comes out, the effect is truly impressive.

106 John January 19, 2010 at 12:56 pm

I had a Drill Instructor who never swore. His use of language was amazing and was much more effective than profanity.

As a general rule, I think that – like in most things – context is everything. What is acceptable sitting around a campfire drinking homebrew with a dozen guys is not acceptable around your mother’s dining room table on Thanksgiving.

107 Joshua Hubbard January 21, 2010 at 2:00 pm

I dont think there is a problem with swearing. After all we were the ones who put this tabboo onto simple words. I do however have to say that there are some times where swearing is not appropiate. Is it manly however. I do not think so, how we use words do not make us any more manly than me eating a steak.

108 Frank Rider January 28, 2010 at 4:14 am

I have no problem swearing, although that is not the answer you are looking for. I believe a certain level of profanity is a cornerstone of manhood, but only outside of mixed company. Simple swears, such as hell, damn, shit and their brethren are staples of male speech. The first real joke dad told you had a swear, a little bit of vile grumbling is known to relieve the pain from a bump more than your momma’s kiss. Dirty language should be limited, though, and most slang is tasteless – and therefor is useless.

Look at Tom Waits and Nick Cave. Two extremely manly men, neither swears very often. Compare to Jay-z or Eminem, two men who have embraced the modern mantle of rapperhood. Both are copiously tattooed, vile mouthed, and hated by your grandpa. A swear is only manly in the right portion and context.

109 JP February 8, 2010 at 1:43 pm

great question. I find that when I hear someone swearing, especially at work, I think to myself…”…what a complete and utter moron.”

I have however, been inspired by the use of this type of language.

(long story):

Years ago when I was in my early 20′s and still lived at my parents home, my father and I used to leave for work at the same time every morning. One particular morning I was just getting home from work from the previous day (I was a merchandising Manager at Toys R Us) as he was leaving (he was Design Supervisor at Ford Motor Co.).

He kind of laughed at me and asked if I went out and tied one on last night (read: was I drunk.)

I explained that as a store Manager it was my responsibility to stay at the store if there were issues that needed attending – no matter how late it was or how long I had already been working.

Then he asked me a direct and probing question “Are they paying you for your time?”

I told him that I was a salaried employee AND that I would also receive a bonus at years end.

Curious, he asked me how much of a bonus I expected at years end (1985).

I told him (as I kind of puffed up my chest – feeling rather manly) based on my last years bonus I could expect about $2,500 to $3,000 or around 15% of my salary.

That’s when he did it….

As he turned around shaking his head in disgust, he walked away and said “You must have SHIT for brains’.

My father knew that I aspired to be a draftsman, too; and he knew that because times had been extremely tough in the auto industry in the early 1980′s I had given up my passion; changing my Major from Engineering to Management. He had offered many times to “help” me get a job in the Design world, but I rebuffed him – wanting to make it on my own and not ride on his proverbial “coat-tails”.

My father also rarely swore.

So his use of one well timed swear word hit me like a ton of bricks….it also, changed my life.

I could not stop hearing his words in my head.

A few days later I asked him about his comment to which he helped me to understand his theory of “getting paid for the work you do, and getting paid fairly.”

After our discussion – and since the auto industry by that time had recovered – I allowed him to use his influence to “help” me land a job in the field that I truly loved.

If he had said “…you must have dung for brains…” or “…you must have doo doo for brains…” I doubt that the effect AND affect would not have been so great.

That was 24 years ago. I currently am a well respected (and still employed) Design Engineer.

So to the question at hand: Is Swearing manly? In the proper context, and more importantly, in reserved moderation – Yes!

110 Brett R. McCaw February 11, 2010 at 1:40 am

I certainly cannot say that swearing has an ‘absolute’ value of manliness (or gentleman-liness for that matter).

But I do remember hearing a comment about the George Bernanos, the 20th century French writer, who knew the ‘art of profanity — how to curse well’.

“How to curse well….” .. Putting it that way, ultimately, the ‘art of profanity’ has to be manly.

111 AM Hudor February 11, 2010 at 8:30 am

There is a whole spectrum of swearing: at one end the easily-parodied “That effing effer won’t do eff-all, fer eff’sake.” This is funny at best (and at best it IS funny).
At the other end of the spectrum, in fact beyond the other end, is the swearing in the well-placed “shit for brains” story that JP told a couple of days ago. I say “beyond the other end” because if swearing is dramatic filler, this is not swearing. It’s a pretty creative metaphor (which we use so often that we don’t notice its metaphoric qualities), pointing out that someone’s mental powers are completely useless.
At the other end of the swearing spectrum is the “In emergency break glass” use, where one needs to convey inexpressible anger and frustration and uses profanity to do that because there are no available words – the point just short of wordless screaming. I took my then-young daughter to hear a talk about soldiers in Viet Nam (I didn’t think beforehand about what we were getting in for), and afterwards we had a long talk about how it’s okay to swear when things are just absolutely so bad that you don’t have any regular words to express yourself. I think in the context of war that that made an impression on her – she certainly didn’t swear at all in my presence when she was a kid, and she rarely does now.
I’m not sure what is meant by manly here, since women swear too, except that a mensch should choose all his (or her, the word “mensch” applies linguistically to women too) words so as really to communicate meaningfully and give up on choosing them in emergencies. In other words, we shouldn’t overuse “sweet” or “cool” either.

112 Collin March 30, 2010 at 1:36 pm

I think it’s more manly not to use any exclamations/outbursts at all.
Not just swear words, but any signal that you’ve temporarily lost control.
“Argh!”,”Ugh”, “Dangit!”, et cetera.
Swearing tends to make the people around the swearer feel inferior or degraded. Plus if you can’t say it in front of a five-year old or a lady, you shouldn’t say it anyway.
If a real man needs to put someone in their place he can do it without swearing.
If a real man needs to get attention he can command it in other ways.
If it’s actually harder to express yourself without swearing then that means it’s probably the more manly thing to do.
Swearing = weakness.

113 Sean P. April 1, 2010 at 10:28 pm

I’m in the ‘curse when it’s useful’ camp. There are occasions when swearing can be very effective. As was mentioned earlier when a friend does something so ridiculously stupid as to be immoral a “What the f*ck were you thinking?” Conveys the same message as “Sir, what you have done is ridiculously stupid as to be borderline immoral, I must inquire as to your thoughts that led to that action.” AND with emotion.

But the ‘cursing’ shows a lack of self control and maturity crowd make an excellent point. Which leads me to the question.

Must a man always be in control of his emotions? Or can they be used to add fuel to the fire as it were?

114 Alemus April 23, 2010 at 5:06 pm

There is absolutely no correlation between swearing and manliness. The question is absurd. The problem is that masculinity is often equated with lack of refinement (not shaving, et cetera) hence the question.

115 Jonathan July 14, 2010 at 5:04 am

Hmmm…as a new reader, thanks to Google,haha…I find swearing rather effeminate. My high school friends who are rather effeminate by nature pepper their convos with every swearword imaginable and then some. I feel that speech is a noble thing and should be used to more lofty ends like the expression of praise, wisdom and every form of goodness. Salt and sweet water simply cannot flow from the same spring.

116 Mohammad August 7, 2010 at 11:13 pm

No it’s not. It’s disrespectful and unnecessary.

117 Dan Brown September 21, 2012 at 8:51 am

My friends and I curse like sailors around each other, but that’s more the result of our blue collar, laissez-faire backgrounds and our tendency to vent about the rest of our lives when in each others’ company.

That said, I avoid it at work and in general polite company, unless I think it helps sharpen the point I’m trying to make.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with a little salt on the tongue, but, like the seasoning, not too much and not too little.

118 Rob Allen September 22, 2012 at 3:13 pm

It takes more willpower and manliness to NOT swear. I always admired my dad for maintaining his composure under pressure to swear. I don’t think swearing shows much intellectual prowess, either.

119 Chad Marden September 24, 2012 at 6:22 pm

When you boil it down to it’s key components, so-called “Cuss Words” are just words. Their addition to a conversation is meaningless without context. It fact, words like Dog-gone and Humbug were considered very vulgar in their day but are considered PC curses in today’s parlance.

My point is swearing is as manly as and other word, i.e., not at all. Instead, it’s the context, not content, of a man’s words that make him masculine.

120 Tony September 26, 2012 at 4:52 am

I think swearing is manly. Period.

However one can only use strong language sparingly and in proper company. Frustrating situations might prompt an extreme reaction even in mixed company. A true man should apologize if such an event transpires.

I aspire to one of the greatest real life manly badmouths of all time: Stane Belak – Šrauf. The man was well known for his inhumane feats in Himalayas as well as creative swearing which – they say – could last for hours without repeating a single phrase.

I post a rough translation of one of his poems:

Oh, beloved Dhaulagiri, stop fucking with me.
I couldn’t care less for not scaling you personally.
Above 8000 meters everything is didgusting.

I think a true man can swear, even in a poem.

121 Chris September 27, 2012 at 8:47 am

I believe that the use of rude language and swearing is absolutely repugnant. There is a difference between the two though. Rude language as stated in many previous posts is nothing more then the proof of your limited vocabulary, when you would have access to correct and descriptive words to express your dislike or disagreement with what ever it is, those words would be used. If not, then the rude language is mentioned to insult or offend the hearer. Swearing or Cursing is nothing more then a petition to establish your future away from God. G.D. is short for God let me be damned.
ignorance of the law is no excuse. That’s the standard line motorists hear when they say they weren’t aware of the speed limit, or gun owners hear when they say didn’t know about the gun laws in the jurisdiction they happened to get arrested in.
In the same way it is better not to say anything then to use rude language, cuss or swear.
Swearing or Cursing is using the name of God in vain.
In my opinion both versions, rude language and using the name of God in vain are both out of line.

122 James October 2, 2012 at 12:49 pm

I cannot remember hearing my father, the most respected, manly man I know, ever using foul language. He had a significant temper when I was younger, which has since all but completely abated (which is another thing about a real man: he can control his spirit), but he never used profanity.

It says something about a real man that can command respect just by his silence and who can get attention by a few words without ever a single swear word.

123 David D October 5, 2012 at 4:47 am

“swearing shows a lack of vocabulary” is an old saw that really should be left to die. The fact is that swear words represent part of a wide vocabulary – but clearly not all of it.

If you are using swear words all the time then there is a lack of descriptive ability, but now and again there is nothing quite so effective as a well placed swear word, to provide emphasis, or sometimes just to provoke a reaction.

Of course they do not work if used all the time – so for me a man should swear, but rarely and only when it adds something to the communication, and please avoid the common ones, they lose meaning they are used so much “fuck” now is effectively useless as a swear word.

124 Mark McCarthy October 5, 2012 at 10:43 am

No, it is unacceptable and displays a lack of breeding and culture and in the wrong group (children) can have long term affects as to first impressions , one’s reputation and character etc . Silence, prudence , and composure under fire are admired and the true mark of “manliness” not the other .

125 Silviu October 23, 2012 at 7:55 pm

Swearing should not be acceptable to men under most circumstances. Sometimes the situation may get the best of one, but generally speaking, and when around others, one should not swear.

126 Scott October 28, 2012 at 9:45 pm

I will say that my father and uncle never swear in polite or mixed company and they are the manliest men I know in two very different ways. One being a highly educated intellectual and the other a 14 hour a day farmer since he was 13 years old respectively. I never heard them swear until I was 17 and given my first beer in both of their company. That was when I was no longer a child to them but a young man. Reserving these words to be used sparingly in “manly” company and for extreme situations is indeed manly in my experience. Flippantly using profanity in everyday conversation is just childish and rude. This like many things is all about the context in which it is applied.

127 Rabo November 2, 2012 at 5:43 pm

Yes, but be sensical. If someone just knowcked your lights out, that would be a good time, and for most people, and invoulantary one. I don’t buy the whole women arguement, mostly bcause women do as well.

128 Jimmy November 6, 2012 at 6:52 pm

Although I am a “young man” I do believe swearing is manly, but only when appropriate. I couldn’t tell you how may conversations I hear/have everyday with people that involve a ridiculous amount of unnecessary swearing. Ex. “Hey bro, I went to the F***in store today and this hot A** bi*ch was all f***in staring at me and sh*t” It think this is stupid and I should have called him a dumb f*ck right there because it would’ve had more sense for me to swear at him at that moment then him swearing through his entire sentence. Unfortunately my generation is really messed up and I admit I use to speak like that too but as I grew a little older I realized how stupid I sound and changed my ways. I also thank this site for giving exceptional pieces of information and examples on being a man for people like myself who did not grow up with a father to teach them “how to be a man”.

129 Jabari McLain November 12, 2012 at 4:01 pm

Im going to say No. Although a man who never swears may be viewed as soft or not having an edge. It Should be used sparingly and only in the presence of other men. Bullets flying over your head is an appropriate time to yell ” F*#@! ” Being upset about getting cut in line is no excuse to call the other person a “B*#&!^” There are many other words such as frugal or ignoble to describe him and his actions.

130 Dante November 15, 2012 at 11:32 am

I personally agree with the “art of swearing” view.
The best use of them is for EMPHASIS upon your speech, in company that uses them the same way.

@Chris, 121
“God Damn It” is not short for ‘God, let me be damned’. It is literally demanding god damn something or someone for you, notably instead of trying to fix the problem yourself. That’s why it’s sacrilege.

131 John November 20, 2012 at 11:21 am

One…you should never do or say something you have to appologize for because you couldnt control yourself. A mans strength is measured by his ability to control himself inspite of his circumstances. “Sorry Lady I didnt see you” is good manners but she still heard what you said.You shouldn’t have to apologize for being manly.
Two…there is never a good reason for bad manners.You can turn bad situations around simply by not meeting people at their level.Maintaining your decorum forces people to assess their own. People who are acting lude,crude and rude or wanting to fight or argue realize they are wrong in conduct and often apologize for their behavior.
Third…if masculinity truly is a standard that transcends then its attributes can not be subjective. So your teaching your son the fine art of manliness,and you swear.So he swears because your his role model. Then you say, “Son, do as I say not as I do”
Hey Dad, your not walking the talk…
Hey Dad, your a hippocrite…
Hey Dad, Im measuring you by the standard your teaching me and Im finding out your weak and have no strength of character!
Or do you teach him there is a time and a place for that language which translates into Hey Dad, you walk the talk but only when its convenient for you!
Double standards are no standards are all. As men we must have the courage it takes to live our convictions.

132 Rik Barnes November 25, 2012 at 7:01 am

I’m not known as a swearer here in Greenville, North Carolina. I’ve rarely found it necessary to use that vocabulary. I ride the bus regularly where the swearing can be abundant. Here are signs that read “No Profanity”. However, that fails to stop its use. Why is it used there? I’ve never understood it.

133 KiltedMile November 25, 2012 at 7:14 am

I rarely swear. I don’t see the need to do so as part of my everyday vocabulary. Here in Greenville, North Carolina, despite “No Profanity” signs, swearing occurs regularly on the Greenville Area Transit (GREAT) buses. What’s the purpose of soaking regular language with cuss words? Do they improve what you’re saying? Or do they show just how small your vocabulary really is?
Rik Barnes

134 CaliMark November 26, 2012 at 11:32 am

Some here say that swearing is uncreative and unimaginative. Nothing could be further from the truth. Some of the best profanity engineers (as I like to call them) can construct sentences using swear words in ways you couldn’t even imagine. Also, new words have come out of swearing such as “shat” and “shart”

135 Nick Amortis December 27, 2012 at 8:42 am

I use swear words with my verbal communication as often as I use seasonings on a good ribeye – very rarely, and when I do, in very small doses.

136 Don Carlos December 31, 2012 at 7:22 am

I dare say swearing is one of the less manly things a man can do. You should be able to firmly express ourself. An unprovoked swear is the verbal equivalent to an unprovoked punch; a sign that you lost your temper. What good is a victory after a defeat?

If you have children, you have to set an example for them. Be firm but polite. Be strong but flexible. Rule fairly. Convince people to do what you wish but don’t force them to. That’s manly. If you walk the path of senseless violence you’re not a man, you’re a bully.

137 Old school January 6, 2013 at 2:29 am

I’m old school. My daughter (17) would not come in the house at 1:30 am after being with her boyfriend since 5:00 pm. They were on the front porch and after calling her on the cell phone and giving her 5 minutes twice and flicking the lights, I stuck my head out and said ” Dude, I like you but she needs to come inside God Damn It!”. Well, I’ve caught Hell from wife and daughter. WTF! Men are not choir boys.

138 gavin January 8, 2013 at 11:03 am

I think it’s necessary to command the full power of language – but using it too much reduces the effect of the words. Language seems to be moving to a point where none of these words hold gravity anymore, but the C-bomb will still silence a crowd if spoken with force.

139 Casey January 8, 2013 at 6:33 pm

I bet the first thing out of these “swearing is solely for the unenlightened dolts of society” types mouths when they stub their toes isn’t “Ballyhoo! Isn’t that just the sticky wicket!”. Assholes.

140 Adam January 8, 2013 at 10:00 pm

Swearing is the crutch of inarticulate muther f*#!ers.

141 StxRynn January 9, 2013 at 11:36 am

This was posted on the wall in the ag building in high school. General Washington posted this general order in 1776: “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 fashion; he hopes the officers will, by example, as well as influence, endeavour to check it, and that both they, and the men will reflect, that we can have little hopes of the blessing of Heaven on our Arms, if we insult it by our 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.”

Self control, articulate speech and character dictate that vulgarity be avoided.

I know the times I swore has caused me to reflect on my lack of self control and being vulgar. Not something I want to be remembered for.

142 Greg January 9, 2013 at 4:53 pm

Swearing is not manly. It just shows ignorance. Man-up and keep it clean.

143 Gene January 12, 2013 at 12:38 pm

It is manly to educate onself; a well-rounded education provides sufficient vocabulary to express oneself without undue dependence on profanity. While it is appropriate to use profanity at times, as a merchant seaman, I found myself overdoing it, so gave it up for lent one year. Since then I have been more conscious of using it, which has curtailed it to a great degree.

144 Markus January 12, 2013 at 10:10 pm

I concur with Nick, saying
“What the fu** were you thinking when you…?”, there is no better way to phrase that sentence. However, you should not ask the produce clerk at the grocery store, “Where the fu** are the baby carrots?”…this would be improper use.”
Sometimes swears are needed when you can’t say Meanie Face
You can use less severe swears like Hell, but saying “Fiddlesticks” is too comical for you to be taken seriously.
In general, swearing isnt ok and its not manly, but a man speaks his mind, and for that swearing is appropriate

145 Geoff January 28, 2013 at 9:10 pm

The only appropriate context for foul language is foul situations. Well-articulated, strong language drives the point home. Most people go wrong by over doing it too frequently, when it is not necessary. For example, I knew my Sunday School teaching mother who never swore a word (that I heard) was serious with me the very first (and close to only) time she cussed. I certainly perked up and payed attention.

146 Geoff January 28, 2013 at 9:16 pm

@ Jimmy, 128
If you ever come to this post and read this again, I agree with you 100%. I am considered a “young man” as well and I can relate to your experience(s) to our generation about swearing, the appropriateness of it all, and how this site has benefitted me as well.

147 Filthy Pazuzu February 6, 2013 at 9:30 pm

I think there are no absolutes in situations like this. Context is everything.

I’ve found the less a person swears, the more effective it is. Think of Nine Inch Nails’ “Something I Can Never Have”, one swear in the entire song and it hits like a hammer.

148 Kobi O'Reilly February 9, 2013 at 2:30 pm

I’m of the opinion that excessive cursing is one of the least manly things a person can do. Being vulgar in public puts out an image of lower intelligence and disrespect for those around you. Sparingly using ‘damn,’ ‘hell,’ and, if absolutely necessary, ‘son of a b****,” are acceptable, but only if one apologises or otherwise excuses oneself after using the latter.

149 Alexander February 13, 2013 at 7:02 pm

The “lower intelligence/limited vocabulary” argument is pitiful. While excessive cursing IS disgusting, distracting, and unbecoming of a gentleman, nothing quite emphasizes a strong statement like a well placed expletive. In the correct company, I find it to be perfectly acceptable (even if that company includes women, so long as they practice it themselves.) Context is always key, as FIlthy Pazuzu said earlier. I take great care in my use of obscenities, as a man should always be certain to not offend unnecessarily.

150 Steve Grimes February 23, 2013 at 11:16 am

Cursing is the crutch of the conversational cripple.

151 Josh February 26, 2013 at 10:41 pm

If swearing is manly, then my sister is the manliest man I know, she swears like a sailor whose hit his thumb with a hammer.
That’s assuming we are talking about using profanities.

Swearing an oath on the other hand is super manly by my reckoning. A man makes a promise and sticks to it.

152 Mark Wiz February 27, 2013 at 6:34 am

61 here. I agree that “purposeful” swearing is manly, but not conversational swearing. Dropping the f-bomb in every sentence is crude. My rules:
* Swear only around other males who do likewise.
* Use sparingly.
* Save the big-ticket words for rare usage when you really want to make a point. “Hell” is mild; the f-bomb is not.
* NEVER substitute stupid, inane phrases for swearing (cheese-and-crackers, Jimminey Cricket, etc.). These make you sound like a four-year-old. It’s better to say nothing than to say these!!!!!!

153 Mark Wiz February 27, 2013 at 6:39 am

Oh, one more thing: NEVER swear in a professional situation. I was once approached by a car salesman who, when he saw I was looking at a sports car, said, “Thats one f***ing nice ride, there!” Lost my respect…and my purchase… immediately.

154 Dean February 27, 2013 at 6:45 am

Well whether it’s manly or not is personal choice; period. But it should be noted that there are times when profanity IS the only way to express oneself in a situation like being mauled by a bear or chased through the city by an angry mob or being over run in a trench by the enemy who wants to kill you. These are not everyday occurances so swearing should be limited to only extreme conditions that warrant such rough language.
One should also note that swearing in some regions of the U.S is very cultural/regional in nature and used as an adjective. For instance Southy Boston,Bronks NY,it seems most USA ciites it is normal to hear the F-bomb these days which over used and not appreciated. It is claimed by some to be a term of endearment. Of course crude,vulgar language is just that. But limited justifiable swearing is most definitely manly! Just ask any Veteran..especially those Navy guys!

155 KENNETH February 27, 2013 at 7:23 am

Swearing is referred to in our home as “verbal flatulation”- while it will be allowed in one in his own privacy, it should never be shared witg others in the same room.

Profanity is ” strong language used by weak minded” people.

There is a time and place for it and a true gentleman can determine the when and where.

156 Chapman Guillory February 27, 2013 at 8:09 am

John Michael, I agree, while it may not be a big deal to swear in front of the guys, it eventually slips out in front of others. Case in point, I was with a big group of my friends at the house of one of the girls in the group and fell asleep in a lazy boy towards the end of the evening (I was getting over being sick and pretty tired). One of my buddies played a prank on me and slapped me on the face to wake me up, and while it didn’t really hurt, I was surprised and the first thing out of my mouth was ‘What the fu**!!’, in front of a room full of girls. So, it eventually it slips out in front of people you don’t want to say it around, so I’d stay away from it all together.

157 Josh James February 27, 2013 at 11:12 am

I think swearing is only manly when it is used for the correct purposes. Swearing at other people out of anger is never manly, it shows weakness because you can’t control yourself. Swear when you are hurt, physically, like hooking your finger with a fish hook and yelling “Dammit” is acceptable as long as there aren’t vulnerable ears around that would hear the word and be dismayed or caused distress. Swear with purpose, not out of loss of self control.

158 Shango February 27, 2013 at 8:43 pm

Hmmm, essentially anything that comes out of our mouths is just noise. Whether a word is bad or good is just a consideration. Check out George Carlins “Seven Words” sketch.

Even so there are words that I have major reservations using because of the effect they have on other people and how it makes them feel.

Now whether it is manly or not is a moot point because i guess we don’t necessarily all agree on the definition of manly. Personally I like to imitate Napoleon Dynamite with a really expressive “Gosh” or even a sarcastic “Gosh darn it to heck” (Ned Flanders) and the occasional “Good Grief” (Charlie Brown) but , in context there is nothing quite as satisfying as cutting loose.

I get together with men in a circle regularly and we use quite specific “bad” language that in context has a deeper meaning but also denotes the seriousness of the call.

Any way, if you want to see one of the most expressive uses of the ‘F’ word, check out the scene in The Wire (S3??) where McNulty and Bunk are checking a crime scene where a shooting took place months before.One word repeated for the entire scene and yet so much was said.

159 MAX POWERZ February 27, 2013 at 10:27 pm

I think swearing is so much part of manliness, I devoted an entire chapter to it in my book. Although the book is satirical, the chapter points out the uses of many words that when used properly allow many different meanings, enabling the reader to expand his vocabulary. I also agree with most of the anti-swearing posts- a true wordsmith doesn’t need to swear, and in some cases swearing has the potential to tarnish one’s character, comparable to constant complaining. When swearing brings nothing to the conversation or statement except negative direction, it is seldom appealing to the listener.

160 Ken February 28, 2013 at 1:23 am

Long ago while I was in the coal mining game there was an assistant mine manager whose every third word was the old f-bomb. He was tiring and unpleasant to listen to.

There is no great harm in the ocassional “bloody” in ordinary discourse when used for emphasis, and in moments of exasperation etc it’s not to be wondered if a few naughty words slip out.

I’ve heard two of my female colleagues swearing, one more than another, but it’s not a habit with them.

I was surprised to read in an earlier comment that “humbug” was considered to be swearing. Good grief.

What is considered to be offensive in the USA or course might not even be noticed elsewhere. I am reminded of the recent story of an Oklahoma high school girl, top of her year who has been refused her documents because she said “hell” in a graduation speech. That would have hardly been noticed in Australia, the UK etc. Ye gods and little fishes, who do these people think they are?

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/20/kaitlin-nootbaar-oklahoma_n_1808618.html

Like many another thing, it’s a matter of degree.

161 Louie Earle February 28, 2013 at 8:52 am

Swearing is like most other things – when done right, it’s extremely manly. When done wrong, it becomes a lesser thing.

If you use it sparingly, you can drop a 5-pound cuss and have it intensify whatever you’re talking about. If you’re talking one-on-one with someone, it subtly conveys two messages: “we’re big boys talking about big boy stuff here”, and “this isn’t the place for social niceties”. But if every third word out of your mouth makes children scurry home to mothers with black smoke pouring from their ears, it’s time to learn a better way to communicate.

162 Henk de Vries March 2, 2013 at 12:32 pm

The less you are expected to swear, the more swearing can stress the urgency of your argument. I only swear when there is a group-project and a stringent deadline, and there is one person stuck on social niceties.

163 Wasim Rahaman March 5, 2013 at 6:14 pm

Any real man should have a good enough vocabulary that they don’t need to swear like an uncivilized brute. Swearing just shows that you are unintelligent and disrespectful (not manly).

164 Blake M March 12, 2013 at 12:04 pm

No set of words holds totemic power to make one manly or unmanly. A man should have a powerful, assertive, and whole vocabulary for each situation–this includes cursing. It’s a red herring to say “You should be more imaginative or creative, and think of a different word,” because sometimes a swear is the best word for a situation.

My answer is “no.”

165 JWS March 12, 2013 at 9:54 pm

Under normal, civil circumstances, swearing should be avoided. However, though, there ARE some times in life when “Darn it all to heck” JUST DOESN’T CUT IT!! In other words, if you must swear, only do it in the company of those whom you know are accepting of/practice it. Otherwise, you look like an uncivilized ape. As a manly geek, I’ve always found it amusing that when Marc Okrand designed the Klingon language, he actually made it part of the culture that cursing is a fine art among Klingons…..

166 Alex March 13, 2013 at 10:45 am

No, Swearing isn’t manly. There’s a grey area for example if you cut your face off. Then maybe you can swear. Otherwise it shows a lack of creativity, control, class and further more and possibly most importantly intelligence.

167 grrbl4h March 17, 2013 at 6:02 pm

I don’t think that swearing is necessarily manly. I do however think that those who look down on others for swearing are somewhat less manly. The exception for that being if it is in a manner that one would find offensive such as in front of a child or a woman without warrant but such things are a matter of personal belief.

168 James March 17, 2013 at 11:27 pm

I think saying that if someone swears, they must lack intelligence/imagination/creativity etc… Is a bit silly. I’m not a genius, but I am pretty intelligent (I currently work in IT) and I have a pretty large swear vocabulary. However, I don’t swear as a habit. I don’t need to use swear words in my everyday conversations. However, my job history (soldier, police officer, jailer) involved the use of swear words, sometimes as a way to do my job better. If you’ve ever dealt with trying to get one of the criminal element to comply with a request/order, you’ll find that while being polite does work, there are times that some people just don’t understand/respond to polite language.
So, my take on it is (like others who have commented) purposful swearing isn’t manly nor is it un-manly or unintelligent. Thoughtless swearing, on the other hand, can definitely make you look foolish.

169 Phillip March 21, 2013 at 2:56 pm

What a lame question.

“He swears like a sailor.” You should use any and all words within your reach. There is a time and a place for everything including SWEARING.

People who feel the world will be ideal if we stamp out some words are confused.

170 Ben March 22, 2013 at 8:55 pm

Swearing is like four-wheel drive on a car. In certain situations, it can be perfectly acceptable, and remarkably useful. In some extreme cases, it may even be the only option. You use it whenever you need a little extra oomph.

But if you never shift out of it, you’re doing it wrong.

171 Tyler March 27, 2013 at 3:55 am

Swearing has to be balanced. Like so many things in our lives like trying to maintain grades while pursuing a relationship and being a VP of a club, its essential to remember when its appropriate to use certain words and when not to. I am involved in my schools ROTC (Reserved Officer Training Corp) which is geared towards teaching budding minds to become Military Officers. The Military really has a culture of its own. To sum it up in a handy dandy acronym would be K.I.S.S. Keep It Simple Stupid. Keeping things simple helps individuals communicate with relative ease and communication is an essential factor in the armed forces. Like all words, a cuss word carries a certain amount of power. On the occasions that I happened to forget an article of clothing or failed to follow an order a common response would be ” There you go, F@@@ing up again Dumba@@”. After this had been slung at me I was instantly filled with feeling of regret. A feeling that I was none to keen on experiencing for a second time. Yes, the statement may have been harsh but it conveyed a message. Do not make this mistake again. Swear words can be used and understood by people of varying intelligence from a genius to a dunce. They can emphasize the authority of an individual when used in the right context and send a message home faster than a regular sentence. But does this make swearing manly? I should think so. Communication is a key factor in our everyday lives. Its true that too much swearing can make a person look less intelligent but that is because he is communicating in a way that is unappealing. Swearing is manly when the one who is using a curse word can use it in the correct context to communicate a thought or a feeling to those around them. A man should be wise enough to know when the use of a curse word is needed and when to filter what he is saying.

172 James Reid March 28, 2013 at 12:48 pm

There are two types of swearing. One I call “Profanity” made up of sexual or scatological words. The other I call “blasphemy” made up of words related to a deity. And of course mixtures of the two. I was taught by my parents to avoid both although when provoked enough both might cut lose with the occasional “shit” or “damn” I don’t remember either parent “taking the Lord’s name in vain”. I’ve learned by their example without much thinking about it.

173 Steve March 31, 2013 at 12:53 pm

There is a time and a place to use profanity. And sometimes, a good curt swear word is what it takes to get the point across. Swearing around women, children and elderly is off limits.

174 Joe April 3, 2013 at 11:15 pm

All four of my grandparents swear profusely. Each has his or her own particular style and preferred expressions. My mother swears freely but my father refrains. Then again, my mother is the more genuine and likeable of the two, while my father is staunchly middle-class and obsessed with appearances (not too manly a trait, I think). I was never really stopped from swearing, except for warnings about letting profanities slip into my speech at school. I think swearing is an innane and integral part of familiar speech, becoming less appropriate (and effective) as the formality of a situation increases. I think that euphemism is a much greater sin than swearing, and is a symptom of lower-middle-class aspirationalism. Nonetheless, swearing is generally least effective, in my opinion, in those cases where we often consider it most necessary. In my experience, serious matters call for serious language beyond the scope of simple swear words.

175 Derek April 6, 2013 at 9:00 am

I had just such a discussion with a young friend of mine. I pointed out that his parents didn’t care for him swearing but it didn’t bother me if we were upstairs in the game room playing halo. It’s all about context. I got this philosophy from his older sister (my girlfriend) who will swear like a sailor in front of me but still avoids saying anything in front of her parents.

176 Santiago April 10, 2013 at 9:11 pm

Gentleman, let us recall Hemingway’s definition of guts: “grace under pressure.” A man, I think we could all agree, has guts–that is, a man that could proudly call himself a man. It is perhaps one of the most distinctive characteristics of men and certainly one of the most noteworthy traits of the male gender role. But even more importantly particular to a man is the ability to adeptly restrain our emotions. This does not mean that we cannot feel emotions. No, emotions are essential for experiencing lives as authentic human beings. However, we must–as men, proudly heralding our manlihood–not allow our emotions to govern our conduct. All our actions must be dictated by sound reasoning–that is, the logical side of our brain. This, perhaps, is one of the traits that most notably differentiates us from women. Thus, let us always strive to maintain our composure, and thwart any courses of action guided by our emotions, especially under extremely stressful and difficult circumstances. I sincerely doubt that anyone has ever perceived Connery, Moore, or Brosnan to have lost their coolness under pressure. And might I firmly state that using swear words–or any form of uncouth language, for that matter–demonstrates a severe lack of self-restraint. It emblazons emotionally-steered behavior. Therefore, despite being involved in an abhorrently chaotic situation, we must always behave as stoic, graceful gentlemen. And that, dear friends, is fucking manly.

177 Albert April 18, 2013 at 10:44 pm

Greetings to all, I would like to share an observation regarding swearing, recently I was watching some old movies on TV and was surprised on how much swearing has been allowed in film industry recently, I was noticing that in the 3 films I saw I believe that the strongest word I heard in the dialogue was ” stupid” and that drove the other character insane, I guess currently we have been exposed to so much swearing it really does not feel that odd to include it in our daily expression, of course you do only notice until you are around women or children that you can converse without swearing, maybe it is our modern response to the fact we cannot roar like a lion ?

178 Aaron May 21, 2013 at 10:29 am

Swearing should not be debated as a “When should I” topic. Men, manly men, say exactly what they mean and without mincing words. A man should swear when appropriate and when such a word will convey the right amount of emotion.

Let us not forget, that modern swear words have become popular because they are the jack of all trades. There used to be about 50 words and hundreds of combinations to say the word ‘whore’ for example. Yet whore is used more often because it’s quick and everyone can understand it.

I will swear when appropriate. I will be more likely to pause before calling someone a curse word and instead say something like “Turd” or “Whelp” which in Modern society clearly states that you intended to call them something worse. Yet if someone is being totally barbaric, cruel or simply will not listen to reason – then I shall curse gladly. Think of some of the most manly jobs. A fighter pilot will avoid swearing on the radio but in an intense moment he may very well tell his wingmen “I’m fucking locked up” when a SAM site has him targeted. The same as soldiers. “Fucking move it” informs the all that they need to move with haste and immediately far better than “Move quickly”. This can mean the difference between life and death and such a true Man acts decisively.

A manly man conveys exactly what he means in a way that everyone understands. If a swear word is necessary, then he should swear. Provided he does not swear every 5 minutes, a single swear word is enough to leave people speechless, which makes cursing a very valuable tool during critical moments or conflict.

179 Rohit Ramachandran June 26, 2013 at 2:57 pm

It’s boyish cockiness. I don’t do it anymore. Feel stupid doing it. Do it only when you’re annoyed, don’t be the angry young man.

180 Jerry July 6, 2013 at 9:59 pm

Swearing shows a lack of intelligence and an inability to find more acceptable language to express ones self. Teenagers and children swear.. real men don’t.

181 Andrew Wilson July 10, 2013 at 3:25 am

Let me first say that I’m in the “swearing has its place” group. One of my pasttimes is songwriting, and in my experiences I came across a brilliant man who told me that, in a song, a swear word will draw attention. A swear word should only be used in extreme pain or to illustrate a very strong point. I screamed bloody hell when I broke my leg. I should refer you to Annie Defranco’s “Untouchable Face”, a masterful illustration of proper swear usage.

182 Josh D July 10, 2013 at 10:49 pm

I think it would be wise to reevaluate the question, first. Rather than viewing swearing as “manly” or “not manly”, perhaps we should look at it as “classy” or “crude”. That said, there is a right time and place for everything.

As men, sometimes it is socially appropriate to be crude or rough around the edges. When I go camping with the guys, we curse like sailors. There is a certain comradery in expressing the roughness and toughness that goes along with profanity.

On the other hand. sometimes (hopefully, most of the time) we want to be the classy gentleman. The social requirements call for us to be more eloquent than profane. Here, we should refrain from the coarseness and informality that goes along with cursing.

I enjoy nightlife and depending on my mood and the venue, i don different images-displaying different sides of myself. Sometimes, I play the gentleman: wear a shirt and tie, wield a martini, and aim for classy and intelligent. Other times. I go for the tough guy. I’ll wear a t-shirt and jeans, drink a beer, and look and curse like I’m badass.

183 Mark July 11, 2013 at 11:54 am

I take my cue on this from my father. Growing up, I never heard the old man swear. It’s not like he didn’t lose his temper sometimes, he just came up with better ways to say what he wanted. This is the most important part though: with his lack of swearing, anytime I heard a four-letter-word issuing from him, I knew the situation was unique. I paid attention, snapped to, and stopped whatever I was doing at the moment. I think that these words have a purpose and an importance, and I try to use them in the same way. If someone fills every other sentence with swear word fillers, then they mean as much as “the” or “an,” and I think that is a shame.

184 Patrick July 29, 2013 at 4:43 pm

It’s useful to know how, but to hold your fire. If you develop a reputation for being a well-spoken man who swears rarely, when you do let it fly people will know you mean business.

185 Ben Gygax August 12, 2013 at 3:59 pm

I’ve been around 4 year olds who have cussed me out. Real manly, isn’t it?

A real man doesn’t have to use swear words.

186 Steven Hawkins September 17, 2013 at 11:06 am

Not explicitly manly, though a man can use the occasional word in an appropriate setting. Most the time it’s just immature or done in anger and shows a lack of control in that anger.

187 Bob the Eternal Flame September 29, 2013 at 10:26 pm

I don’t find swearing to be, as some have said, a weakness.

I do find it to be crass, careless, and in many situations, unneeded.

I learned at a very early age how to express myself fully (AND how to competently insult a fool) without the use of swearing.

That is not to say I do NOT swear-I am well versed in every swear word the English Language has to offer, and use them daily-why? There are some instances in life where a well placed “Aw hell,” “Holy sh*t!” and my personal favorite, “DAMN IT!” are about the only reasonable response.

Hell, damn is so ingrained in my vocabulary, if I were to NOT use it, my family’d think I’d gone insane!

188 Sean October 8, 2013 at 9:31 pm

No. Boys swear to seem cool. My grandpa always taught me that people who swear are unintelligent and unimaginative if they can’t come up with some better way or expressing how they feel.

189 Paul John Pages October 11, 2013 at 5:02 am

There’s a time and place for everything. And knowing that there is a time and place for everything and adhering to such a mantra, is manly in itself.

190 Boone November 2, 2013 at 7:19 pm

How can people say that swearing shows a small vocabulary? If I swear and you don’t, then I have that many extra words in my vocabulary.

191 Levi November 3, 2013 at 5:52 am

An interesting point to note is that swear words are in fact stored in a different part of the brain than normal, everyday words. “Words” are stored in our white matter, the part of the brain associated with information storage and memory. Swear words however, are stored in the emigdula, the part of the brain associated with emotion and fear. And also swearing while in pain increases our tolerance to pain. In this sense, profanity is a more primal and emotively charged than normal words. This effect is not observed when normal words are shouted or uttered while the test subject was undergoing the same level of pain. So is swearing manly? It is certainly the most direct way to express extreme emotion, but extreme is indeed the operative word in that sentence.

192 Tim Hogan November 12, 2013 at 6:41 am

I read somewhere recently that people who consistently swear are statistically more honest and passionate. If this article was true then i think swearing should be considered manly. I think honesty and passion are traits of a good man

193 Alex November 24, 2013 at 12:34 am

I think it’s OK in moderation, just not particularly classy. For me it depends on the company – I moderate my behavior to match theirs. I’ve always thought the purpose of etiquette was to put people at ease and have positive relationships, and having people see you as one of them is important. If I’m with sailors, I curse like one. If I’m with academics, never.

194 Richard December 3, 2013 at 11:19 am

It is not manly to swear. But one must know and understand such words so it can be avoided.

195 Amos Marr December 18, 2013 at 7:05 pm

I’m eighteen. When I was littler, I was taught that swearing, cursing, or ‘cussing’ was not an ok thing to do. However, as I’ve grown, I’ve begun to realize, with the help of my Father and my brother in the Army, that swearing can be used.

It destroys the manly aspect of it when it used too often. Used sparingly, it adds emphasis and emotion to a conversation. I swear when something horrible happens. I don’t swear when something bad happens. If i broke my hand, you better believe that I’m going to be cussing. If it’s a cut, I’d suck it up and deal with it later. Also, the company around you matters. I’m sure not gonna say anything bad around my Mother or sister, but when I’m out with my friends, or hunting with Pa, one or two words might slip out.

Everything in moderation.

196 Dan December 19, 2013 at 10:24 am

Just like with everything, this maxim holds true: know your audience.

I’m an advisor for a youth group called DeMolay. One of the virtues that is taught is cleanness: in word, thought and deed. Now, while this is a virtue of the organization, as one advisor said, they are not how we are to judge the youth, but a standard that we should all strive to uphold.

However, the question you pose is “Is it manly?” I have to say that it has to deal with the audience and the context. Your kid drops a can of soda in the grocery store? Not a manly place to curse. You smack your head as your moving some wood after chopping it? Most definitely is it manly.

Side note: science has proven that cursing after bumping your shin, toe, head, or any other body part will indeed reduce the pain.

197 JW December 26, 2013 at 2:39 am

I know dozens of ‘manly’ men who don’t swear. However, if you are going to swear, do it with style. Don’t throw out f-bombs left and right – instead, have a repertoire of cusswords that are unique and imaginative and fit the situation you use them. Also, swear only in the apropriate settings (never around your elders, women, children, clergy, or other people you know are uncomfortable with such words, never while at work – if you work in an environment where the general public can overhear your unprofessional sounding expletives). Lastly, use cusswords that are non-sexual in meaning… there’s a dozen ways that are better (and more appropriate) to say “oh f***”.

198 TW December 30, 2013 at 1:30 pm

I think its an interesting question. I don’t relate swearing to being manly or feminine really. I choose not to swear, based more of my moral and spiritual beliefs. I look at swearing as being immature and something I did when I was younger. I also think if something is doing in secret (meaning you only swear around your buddies) then its also something to be outgrown. To each his own, but I have and will walk away if someone starts dropping profane words left and right when speaking to or around me.

199 abcuser123 February 15, 2014 at 3:54 am

Sorry, I do not think swearing is cool and should be avoided at all costs. It is cheap and degrades the user as well as the people around them. People who think that swearing is a manly thing ought to examine their maturity level.

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