Dirty Words: A Brief Review Of The Most Offensive, Suggestive Words In The English Language. Panties.
What do you get when you mix Latin, German, and French, along with a bunch of other linguistic tidbits (eww)? You get the English language of course, one of the most impressively adaptive yet horrifyingly dirty languages in human history.
And when I say dirty, I’m not just talking about your F*CKS, SH*TS, and C*NTS. (English cursing is as good as it gets, but that is best saved for another article.)
The Nasty Nast Of Suggestive English
During my senior year at University of California : Irvine, some friends decided to place a bet on who could most impress our political science professor on their final in-class essay. This guy had been tenured since the days of Henry Kissinger, and was constantly using vocabulary that made political science sound more like Human Sexuality 101. Naturally, then, someone had the retarded idea of seeing who could most eloquently insert (eww) a suggestive word into their final exam. Sounds simple, right?…
Perhaps. Unless of course, the word you had to use was “panties.” That’s right, I had to insert the word panties into my final, in-class political science essay. Nasty nast.
Needless to say, there’s absolutely no possible context in which to appropriately use the word panties while arguing the points of American interventionism in Iran by way of progressive diplomacy and cultural exchange.
So, a few paragraphs into my essay, I simply finished a sentence with a period, followed by the word panties, and then continued writing as normal. It was revolting, and violating, and yet, on some strange level of peculiarity… almost enlightening. (My paper was later returned to me with a big red circle drawn around the word “panties” with a question mark beside it… along with a shining letter “A-” at the very top.)
English Morphology And Expressive Power
Just a few weeks prior, a friend of mine had been shopping at Trader Joe’s market when he happened upon an elderly woman who was browsing red wine, looking like quite the connoisseur. He decided to ask her about one of the reds. “Oo yes, that one is QUITE… titillating,” she replied with a sly grin, before winking at him as she strolled away.
He called me on the phone in a panic, half laughing, and half crying, suffering from what appeared to be a condition similar to PTSD. It would take him months before he got over the image of the winking, titillating old woman who had psychologically scarred him with her abrupt accostment of suggestive English in a public setting.
In the world of linguistics (and computer programming), there is a concept known as “Expressive power” to denote which languages can communicate the widest variety of concepts and ideas. And while the debate continues – with many linguists pointing out the lack of consistent logic in English, etc – the truth remains that English is exceptionally expressive and has evolved more than any language in world history.
Take the word douche for example. Born in Latin as ductus meaning “leading”, it was shuffled into Italian as docciare which means “pouring” or “dripping” and later doccia referring to “piping” or “conduit.” Continue on to the 18th century as French began using douche to mean “shower” and English-speakers began repeating it, despite ALSO having the English word duct which ALSO evolved directly from Latin ductus.
That’s right, b*tch. We’ll take douche… AND ductus too.
Now, according to Google Books’ historic Ngram viewer of word usage, the word douche reached peak usage around 1900. From then on, the word continued to drop in usage, reaching a low point in 1992 that hadn’t been witnessed since the early 1800s.
But wait just a second! you might say. At the turn of the new millennium, around the year 2000, the word douche suddenly started to grow in usage again for the first time after nearly a century of dramatic decline. Da f*ck… you guys?
Thank the internet.
We Will Rock (Your Morphological Typology)
Or if we are feeling adventurous, we might make sh*t up on the fly, like when Stephen Colbert announced to a live television audience he had indeed twatted before, as a past participle of tweeting. Zap! Fusional language, with a touch of sarcasm.
While most languages have a variety of morphologies, modern English, spurred on by the rapid growth of the internet and a simple phonetic alphabet – would seem to almost purposefully devour new styles. In turn, our minds connect the invisible dots between various words and expressions, creating an apparent level of dirty connotation and Freudian evocation unseen in other languages. An old lady says titillating, and we think… of titties. When in fact, titillate comes from Latin titillat meaning “tickled”, and tits – referring to breasts or nipples – originated separately from German and Dutch. (Um, that may have just made it worse. By the way, titillating is enjoying record popularity.)
Contrast this complexity with translating douchebag to Chinese – one of the most “isolating” languages in the world – which, after translation, means “evil stick” (LMAO). And while saying (惡棍) in Chinese does apparently have modern connotation – being used in the title of Inglorious Basterds for Chinese audiences, for example – there is a clear lack of etymological depth, and in turn, not much dirtiness.
Listen as Jack Wagner, the original voice announcer at the Disneyland park in California, grammatically dissects the word F*CK on tape, several decades ago:
Dirtiest Words In The English Language
So, what’s a dirty word then? Any word, perhaps, that subtly evokes disgusting, sexual, or otherwise shocking or unpleasant images or associations. Without further ado, here are the most disgusting words in the English language. (Please comment with more.)
anal • anis • angina pectoris • back-hoe • baste • bolus • buboe • bulge • burgle • burst • caress • caucus • cesspool • cleft • chafing (chafe) • chum • clog • cockamamie • cockpit • coitus • concoct • crampon • creamy • crevice • crotch • crusty • cul-de-sac • cumquat • custard • dangle • diarrhea • dipthong • discharge • dongle • douche • dribble • drizzle • Dukakis • ejaculate • excretion • fallacious • finger • flaccid • flagellate • flexible • foist • fondle • fundus • gaping • genitalia (along with all specific types of genitalia) • gesticulate • gurgle • gyrate • hoist • invagination • jam • jiggling • juices • lambaste • limber • limp • loin • lube (lubricate) • luster • manhandle • masticate • matriculate • meat probe wipes • moist • nestle • oblong • ogle (ogling) • ointment • paginate • panties • penetrate • penile • pleasure • poke • pony • pop • poppycock • pouch • prematurely • probe • protrude • pulchritudinous • quiver • receptacle • regurgitate • rigid • rub • sack • saggy (sag, sagging) • saturated • scrofula • secretion (secrete) • shaved lunch meats • sloppy • smear • smegma • snorkel • soggy • spew • splurge • spoon • sprocket • squat (squat-thrust) • squirt • sticky • stroke • succulent • suck • suckle • supple • swallow (swallowed, swallowing) • swollen • taint • taint-squat • taught • tender • tenderloin • throbbing • thrust • tidbits • tight • titillate (titillating) • tutelage • tubercle • undulate • vacillate • wet • whack
Originally published December 18, 2009, as inspired by the original Facebook group.