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  • Abhirup Som


Profanity is the use of language that is socially regarded as offensive. It is also known as cursing or swearing. It is deemed impolite, rude, or culturally offensive and can degrade the quality or value of something or someone. In its older, more literal sense, ‘profanity’ refers to a lack of respect for things that are held to be sacred. It implies anything inspiring or deserving of reverence, as well as behaviour showing similar disrespect or causing religious offence. In certain religions, it constitutes sin.

Swearing is almost a developmentally normal behaviour for children during middle childhood and early adolescence. Data shows that swearing emerges by age two and becomes adult-like by ages eleven or twelve. By the time children enter school, they have a working vocabulary of thirty to forty offensive words. Often children themselves don’t know the meaning of the words they are saying. It is not clear exactly where children learn to swear. Anyone in a parenting role should do their best to eradicate or curb swearing at home while teaching the children the meaning of those words.

It also affects impressions. It usually results in a less favourable impression rating of the speaker in the overall impression of intelligence, trustworthiness, proneness to anger, and aggressiveness.

Swearing can hurt the sentiment of people. Sometimes it is said as a joke or sarcastically, but the other person does not understand and takes offence. It is also considered inappropriate to swear in a formal setting.

Moreover, it can be used to vent stress. Studies have shown that swearing relieves stress, dulls the sensation of pain, fosters camaraderie among peers, and is linked with traits like verbal fluency, openness, and honesty. It also offers catharsis to the people who use it, making it helpful for pain relief. For pain relief, swearing seems to trigger the natural ‘fight or flight’ stress response, as well as increased adrenaline and heart pumping. This leads to stress-induced analgesia -being more tolerant of pain.

To clarify: these words, of course, don’t have any intrinsic, mystical power that confers superhuman strength and endurance. According to researchers, it is simply the act of speaking a taboo word that makes it emotionally cathartic.

Curse words can help you more accurately communicate your emotions, which contradicts the folk belief that people use profanity because they lack vocabulary skills. Some research also finds a link between swearing and honesty. For example, a study published in the Social Psychological and Personality Science Journal concluded that “profanity was associated with less lying and deception at the individual level.”

One of the biggest positive sides of swearing is that it can reduce physical aggression. One does not need to get physically aggressive if one can vent their anger through the words one uses. Swearing can result in mental harm to the person it is meant for but it can prevent any physical harm from being done.

Swearing is not appropriate for most situations but in some cases, swearing can help in managing stress and can be useful. Swear words should be used sparingly and should not offend anyone when used.


  1. Jay, Timothy and Janschewitz, Kristin. “The Science of Swearing.” Association for Psychological Science - AP. 25 Apr, 2012. Web. 4 April, 2022.


2. Wong, Kristin. “The Case for Cursing.” The New York Times. 10 Nov. 2021. Web. 4 April, 2022.


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