Where the curses are

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Jack Grieve on cussing GIS (Lorenzo Ligato, "Which Curse Words Are Popular In Your State?", HuffPost 7/17/2015) — it's not a big surprise that darn is popular in the upper midwest:

But I wouldn't have predicted that gosh was such a border-state thing:

Or that the south would have an asshole deficit:

Perhaps partly compensated by a bitch surplus:

It's worth noting that the actual distribution of word-use rates in geolocated tweets is noisier than these maps indicate — Jack uses Getis-Ord z-scores to smooth the geographical patterns.

For damn, shit, fuck, motherfucker, and cunt maps, see the original story.

Or see Jack's twitter stream (where all the maps originally appeared), or the presentations and publications on his web site.


  1. Carol Roberts said,

    July 27, 2015 @ 6:21 am

    I don't understand why "darn" and "gosh" are being counted as curse words at all. Thoase are words you say in place of cursing. Are they also counting "H-E-double-hockey-sticks" as a curse?

  2. Coby Lubliner said,

    July 27, 2015 @ 7:32 am

    The story begins "We live in a country of swearers." Where is the indication that Americans "swear" more than any other people? I wonder if Jack Grieve has done similar study for the UK.

  3. FM said,

    July 27, 2015 @ 7:54 am

    Occurrences of "bitch", "damn", and "shit" are largely explained by percentage black population: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/d0/New_2000_black_percent.gif

    In my browsing experience, black Twitter does seem to be a different place from white Twitter — more social, rather than just the media elite trying to be clever at each other. That may naturally involve more swearing.

  4. TomParmenter said,

    July 27, 2015 @ 1:20 pm

    How do you get on black twitter?

  5. Guy said,

    July 27, 2015 @ 2:25 pm

    @Carol Roberts

    I'm disappointed they didn't also include "golly", "gee willikers", and "tooshie".

  6. Gregory Kusnick said,

    July 27, 2015 @ 3:10 pm

    Of course the article should really be called "Which Curse Words Are Popular Among Twitter Users In Your State?" These maps ignore the possibility that Twitter use itself could correlate with specific vocabulary. One doesn't expect to find many Amish tweeting "darn" or "gosh", for instance.

  7. Bloix said,

    July 27, 2015 @ 4:42 pm

    Carol Roberts –
    Darn and gosh are what used to be known as minced oaths. At least originally, both the speaker and the hearer were expected to know what the word is substituting for, so in both minds the truly intended word is understood (in the way that writing "f*ck" or "sh-t" doesn't hide the intended word from the reader.) Even today, preachers inveigh against minced oaths, saying that they are just as bad as cursing with the original words. You can easily find website sermons that do so:

    "[A] little thought will lead anyone to the conclusion that 'gosh' is not an appropriate word for a Christian to use on any occasion whatsoever."


  8. Bloix said,

    July 27, 2015 @ 4:52 pm

    Tooshie is not remotely a curse. It's baby talk. No one ever says, "he's such a fucking tooshie."

    Golly and gee willikers are minced oaths, and there are a lot of fundamentalist Protestants who don't say them.

  9. Chris C. said,

    July 27, 2015 @ 5:22 pm

    Given the character limit on Twitter, it's not too surprising that the lengthiest of these, "motherfucker", is less common than most. If you have the characters to spare for it, you likely have very little else to say.

  10. Mike said,

    July 27, 2015 @ 6:15 pm

    From the article:

    And who knew the "c-word" was so popular in New England?

    Who didn't know? If I ever hear it from an American (which is rare), 9 times out of 10 they're from New England.

    Exhibit A
    Exhibit B

  11. Brett said,

    July 27, 2015 @ 6:43 pm

    @Chris C.: It might be better to compare the rate of usage of "mofo".

  12. Bloix said,

    July 27, 2015 @ 6:49 pm

    When Brits say cunt, they mean asshole. It's a wonder anyone manages to get pregnant over there.

  13. Frank Y. Gladney said,

    July 28, 2015 @ 12:00 am

    @Bloix. Polish _dupa_ has a similar range.

  14. Mikkel said,

    July 28, 2015 @ 6:53 am


    When you say "they mean asshole" do you mean the anatomy or the insult for a disagreeable person? Because it certainly does not refer to the anus, it means vagina.

  15. Terry Hunt said,

    July 28, 2015 @ 8:18 am

    @Bloix & Mikkel

    Furthermore, I as a Brit might (though hopefully wouldn't actually) call someone either a cunt or an arsehole (note spelling, please), but they are not synonymous as insults. The former implies more intentional maliciousness on the part of the offending insultee.
    (The inherent cultural misogyny is left as an exercise for the reader to parse.)

  16. Bloix said,

    July 28, 2015 @ 11:15 am

    A joke! I was making a joke! I think it's the dirtiest joke I've ever made, to tell the truth –

  17. Scott Mauldin said,

    July 28, 2015 @ 5:39 pm

    Perhaps the most interesting thing to me is that the "bitch" and "cunt" maps are essentially the exact opposite of each other. I suppose these are perfect substitutes – unless you're calling people "bitch cunt", you have to opt for one over the other.

  18. pep said,

    July 30, 2015 @ 5:22 am


    Threre´s this old book (well, is 1996 really old?) about curses in Europe:


    I relly enjoyed reading it (and confirming that when it comes to blasphemy we catalans are…eh..creative people)

  19. J. L. Barnes said,

    August 1, 2015 @ 11:28 am

    Did anyone else notice the concentration of "cunt" around Fort Campbell? Perhaps a little sociolinguistic quirk tying the military to use of the word there.

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