What gives ‘cunt’ its offensive power?

The following is a guest post by Kate Warwick.

 * * *

It’s definitely a hand grenade of a word, especially in speech. But is it just the literal meaning of cunt which makes it so offensive? Linguistically, there are other elements of the word which contribute to its force: connotative layers of meaning, its sound and the impact on the hearer.

From the 11th century’s rather off-puttingly named Godwin Clawecunte[1] to the 21st century’s complete cunt, the word has clearly undergone some meaning extension; from literal or denotative to abusive or connotative. It’s notoriously difficult to pinpoint change, of course, but the development of connotative meaning can be seen in Pepys’s 17th century use to mean a sexually active women, ‘he hath to sell such a pouder as should make all the cunts in town run after him’.[2] Later, in Manning’s First World War novel, his soldiers even refer to a man as a cunt, ‘A bloody cunt like you’s sufficient to demoralise a whole fuckin’ army corps’.[3]

So by the early 20th century cunt has acquired a layer of hatred in its meaning. Without going into detail about potential social causes, how did this happen? There are plenty of other words, like twat, which literally mean the same thing, but don’t have the sense of ‘despised, unpleasant, or annoying place, thing, or task’.[4]

One clue may be in Grose’s dictionary, The Vulgar Tongue, which defines cunt as ‘a nasty name for a nasty thing’[5] and then one of the Oxford English Dictionary’s definitions of nasty is, ‘sexual intercourse. Now esp. in to do the nasty and variants’. It is even argued that this shift may already be present in Chaucer’s notorious Miller’s Tale couplet:

‘As clerkes ben ful subtile and ful queynte;

And prively he caughte hir by the queynte,’[6]

Here he neatly pairs the crafty and plotting meaning of queynte, describing the devious clerk as ‘ful subtile and ful queynte’, with its literal counterpart. Perhaps these uses are reflecting the direction of meaning extension, which is starting to make poor Godwin Clawecunte’s name sound more than just unfortunate.

Gradually, via Chaucer, Grose and Manning and presumably in combination with other non-linguistic factors, the nasty and devious layers of meaning in cunt have become more dominant.

This connotative use is particularly common in speech (as seen in the British National Corpus), so perhaps sound also contributes to the word’s force? We know from Pinker that ‘imprecations tend to use sounds that are perceived as quick and harsh’.[7] They tend to be ‘monosyllables or trochees, and contain short vowels and stop consonants, especially k and g: fuck, cock, prick…’,[8] and [kʌnt] certainly reflects these trends.

Beginning with a strong voiceless velar plosive [k], it includes a short back vowel [ʌ] (probably nasalised), then moves into an alveolar nasal [n] and a final voiceless alveolar plosive [t], abruptly halting the vowel. It could be that this phonetic structure, an explosive beginning, short vowel and abrupt ending, make cunt more likely to be offensive than its near synonyms. For example, twat [twæt] also exhibits short vowels, but the voiced labial-velar approximate [w] softens the first [t], perhaps reducing its impact. However, the phonetics of a word like cock ought to make it more offensive than cunt. [kɒk] has the typical phonetic characteristics of a swear word, what Crystal describes as ‘the really important sounds . . . the velar consonants, especially the voiceless ones, especially when these are in final position’.[9] It may be that the many innocent homonyms reduce its force. But that the equally phonetically short cock has less of an impact than cunt also brings us back to meaning; it’s the combination of nastiness with brutishly short sounds that gives cunt its power.

Maybe there’s another element, linked to sound, which contributes to the outrage? Swearing packs an emotional punch because, once we have learnt the word and established Pinker’s ‘pairing of certain meanings and sounds’,[10] we can’t shut our ears to it. Cunt causes an extreme emotional reaction partly because it invokes an involuntary response in the hearer. Having heard the sound, the brain automatically makes the connection; the phonological form unlocking the layers of meaning. As Bowers et al.[11] argue, verbal conditioning, the result of phonology plus semantic content, determines our emotional response to swearing.

There’s one more possibility behind the force of cunt; the phonetic shape not only gives us a word that’s shocking to hear, but importantly for some, also satisfying to say. Sculptor Morag Myerscough acknowledged this after she was given the letter C as part of the British Library’s exhibition 26 Letters: Illuminating the Alphabet. She created a sculpture entitled Has Anyone Seen Mike Hunt in pink neon. In justifying her choice of word, she says, ‘I was brought up not to swear, but I love swearing. I love the shape of the words coming out of my mouth.’[12]

So perhaps cunt is shocking not just because of the meanings it has acquired over the centuries, but because of how this combines with the sound of the word and the physical satisfaction of lobbing this verbal hand grenade.

* * *

Kate Warwick tweets at @katewarwickprs and @wordsnerd.

This content is based on a dissertation entitled The connotative cunt. Why the combination of semantics & phonetics makes cunt so offensive in spoken English, completed at UCL (MA English Linguistics) in 2014.

[1] “cunt, n.” OED Online. Oxford University Press, June 2014

[2] S. Pepys, Diary 1 July 1663 (1971: IV. 209)

[3] F. Manning, The Middle Parts of Fortune (2000: 177)

[4] “cunt, n.” OED Online. Oxford University Press, June 2014

[5] Grose’s Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue (2004: 93)

[6] G. Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales, The Miller’s Tale. (1962: 3275-6)

[7] S. Pinker, The Stuff of Thought: Language as a Window into Human Nature. (2007: 339)

[8] Ibid.

[9] D. Crystal, The Cambridge Encyclopaedia of the English Language. (2003: 251)

[10] S. Pinker The Stuff of Thought: Language as a Window into Human Nature. (2007: 356)

[11] J. Bowers et al. Swearing, Euphemisms, and Linguistic Relativity. PLoS ONE Vol. 6. (2011)

[12] P. Silverton. Filthy English: the how, why, when and what of everyday swearing. (2009)


68 thoughts on “What gives ‘cunt’ its offensive power?

  1. Jonathon Green February 6, 2015 / 3:00 pm

    I don’t think one can place quite so much emphasis on Grose’s definition, distasteful and indeed foolish though it is. Grose was a lexicographer and not a moralist and it is even possible that he was paraphrasing a contemporary saying, even a joke. Note his unpublished entry: A—e-Man, ‘invader of the rear settlements’. The sense is of reproducing a contemporary pun. But cunt had been taboo for far longer. Examples from the 17th century are already considering it worthy of censorship, i.e. ‘c—t’, and the implication must be that it is a ‘bad’ or ‘dirty’ word. Lord Rochester’s use in particular is unmistakeably negative. I would suggest that the problem is more slang’s long-standing misogyny, plus a history of Judaeo-Christian attutudes to sex.

    Mike Hunt, btw, is one of smut’s veterans; occasionally he comes with a friend: Job Halls.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kate Warwick February 9, 2015 / 12:31 pm

      Yes, I probably should have acknowledged that Grose is a bit suspect, but I’m fascinated as to why ‘cunt’ in particular has become so offensive. I would like to go into the issues around misogyny and over what period ‘cunt’ took on its connotative form. Some evidence for early 20th century, but as you say, earlier examples too.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Mick April 8, 2016 / 2:24 am

        A cunt was a fur bag that hung in front of an Archers loins and was tied around his waist with string. Inside the Cunt (bag),was a wet stone that the Archer used to sharpen his arrow heads.The triangular shape of the “Cunt”,hanging down in front of him,resembled……well, a cunt.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Craig February 6, 2015 / 3:51 pm

    I’m not sure much of this is really relevant; it certainly isn’t universal. I know my wife finds “twat” far more offensive than “cunt”; she herself often uses “twat” as an insult (“he’s just a stupid twat”), but never “cunt”. As for myself, I’ve been thinking intermittently for a while about my own sense of the variations in meaning between the various words for the female organ: “vagina” (technical; what a doctor calls it), “pussy” (playful, affectionate), “cunt” (raw, awe-inspiring, primeval erotic power; something to be respected, even worshipped), “twat” (contemptuous; something to be used and discarded — which is why I never use this word), etc. This may not be how other people think of these words, of course.


    • Kate Warwick February 9, 2015 / 12:40 pm

      Interesting list, and that you wife finds ‘twat’ more offensive. I’ve come across that too. As you say, it’s not a universal response and swear words do rise and fall in emphasis. I’d love to find out more about where these two words rate on a scale (and the others you mention).


    • writinginyourvoice July 31, 2018 / 5:46 am

      The other point, though, is that “vagina” specifically refers to only one part of the female anatomy — an internal part — whereas the other terms refer either to the external parts of the female anatomy only, or to all the parts that are accessible without surgery. The nearest technical synonym for “pussy” and “cunt” is “vulva.”

      I know a great many people (including women) use “vagina” for the whole area, and I hate seeing that. The reason I think it matters is that the vagina is used for penetrative sex only (whether with a penis or some sort of sex-toy), and by implication it leaves out all other sex acts, implying that they’re not “real sex.”


  3. Eric Thompson (@EricJT) February 6, 2015 / 5:03 pm

    Early topographical uses are recorded in Ekwall’s ‘Street Names of the City of London’ [Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1954, pages194-5] which discusses them in relation to Gropecuntelane – “the lost name of a lane in St Pancras and St Mary Colechurch.”. Ekwall adds that the name is found in other towns, sometimes varying with the euphemism Grope Lane.


  4. Incidental Scribe February 6, 2015 / 6:41 pm

    I find I’m one of the few women I know who doesn’t hate the word cunt. It’s a word, a swear like so many others and really that’s all the thought I give it. The power comes from the person who is hearing it. If you don’t give it meaning or power it’s just a word.

    Liked by 3 people

    • hanmeng February 7, 2015 / 3:02 am

      To me it’s particularly irritating that it’s used as an insult because after all, the vast majority of humans have emerged from them, most men and plenty of women like them. And when used to insult women in particular, isn’t it just synecdoche? I wish women would reclaim it.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Little Tiny Baby Trump November 29, 2016 / 10:22 am

        Make the Cunt Great Again? Something like that?

        Liked by 2 people

      • rhythmrhymebox November 29, 2016 / 11:37 am

        I agree that women could reclaim cunt in much the same way ‘gay’ and ‘queer’ were reclaimed by homosexual men and women. However I think that men have a part to play. They could stop using cunt in an ugly way and be more creative, eg cuntcy = adorable or desirable. If you want to see a spoken word piece which elaborates on this theme, check out ‘Poetically Correct Fully Cunt’ on WordPress. I’m rhythmrhymebox and I am delivering this piece on Friday night Melbourne, Australia local time as one of the contestants in the Melbournespokenword Prize 2016.
        The refrain goes like this:

        I am man, I’m cuntless, yet
        I gave cunt a bad rep
        Now I’m gonna take a step
        Help. Make. Cunt. Hep.
        Man. Will you take that step with me?
        Speak cunt cuntishly?

        Nicholas Elliot

        Liked by 1 person

  5. realbobbi February 6, 2015 / 7:54 pm

    Reblogged this on realbobbi and commented:
    Excellent article! I love swear words too and this article explains how and why this is quite a common feeling actually.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. John Cowan February 6, 2015 / 11:43 pm

    The meaning ‘fool’ paradoxically seems to make cunt more acceptable in the U.K. than in North America. That sense never caught on here, and so it remains an extreme term of abuse for a woman, and simply impossible to apply to a man (at least in heterosexual circles).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kate Warwick February 9, 2015 / 12:56 pm

      Interesting that it’s used about women in the USA. In the UK it seems to be used about men and women, although less so in mixed groups (although the data is early 1990s, things may be different now).


      • John Cowan February 15, 2015 / 11:14 pm

        Calling a woman a cunt in the U.S. is like calling a man a dick, plus misogyny.


  7. Craig February 7, 2015 / 2:19 am

    Another issue not mentioned here is the historical ethnic biases that underly the vocabulary of modern English. When the Normans conquered England in 1066, they brought their Norman French language with them, which, when combined with the Germanic Saxon language previously spoken in Britain, developed into what we now call English. An interesting aspect of this is that words of Latin/French derivation (from the conqueror’s tongue) tend to be more formal and “proper”, while words of Saxon origin tend to be considered rude and vulgar. In more polite contexts, we generally use Latinate terms like “vagina”, “intercourse”, “excrement”, and so on, rather than Saxon-derived equivalents like “cunt”, “fucking”, or “shit”. Had the Saxons conquered Normandy, rather than the Normans Britain, the word “cunt” might not be perceived the way it is.

    Liked by 2 people

    • bookwurm777 February 7, 2015 / 3:39 am

      Since you sound so convincing on the subject…can anyone settle an argument between friends;
      We can’t agree on how you would spell pussy(an oozing infection) a pussy pussy(female sex organ-slang)are these two words spelled differently or the same?


      • Galaxy Jane March 25, 2015 / 9:42 pm

        The same, which is why we were always taught in medical training to use the term “purulent” in writing instead. Not everyone gets that memo and hilarity has been known to ensue.

        Or as my surgery instructor used to say “Pussy, you can say it, but you can’t write it down.”


  8. Jason Preater February 7, 2015 / 5:48 am

    I like the way you write about this because you acknowledge the way the word comes out of the mouth. I agree with you about that. Spanish cunt- coño- is definitely softer sounding and has a softer meaning a bit like wow. Twat is also a verb and that gives it a whole different range of meaning. To twat someone is to give them a slap and I have heard “he was completely twatted” to mean drunk. It is hard to turn cunt into a verb, isn’t it? It retains its explosive power. Having said that I agree with Craig and Incidental Scribe here that there is nothing especially offensive about cunt to me and I liked that definition of awe-inspiring power. The Americans have an entirely different culture around the word, but they are considerably more prudish than we are.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kate Warwick February 9, 2015 / 12:50 pm

      I read something (I think by Silverton) along the lines that the French ‘con’ & Spanish ‘coño’ have an element of the ridiculous, of idiocy, which is missing from ‘cunt’, but is probably in ‘cock’. Not sure how this fits with the phonetics…

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Mr Punch February 7, 2015 / 2:50 pm

    I certainly agree with John Cowan on the situation in North America. I was very surprised when the New York Times, last year, ran Jenny Diski’s reclamation piece.


  10. Matt February 7, 2015 / 5:47 pm

    I was watching a program that didn’t censor the liberal use of the words “fuck”, “shit”, etc., but bleeped out “cunt”. I found this fascinating that the censors could evidently feel that there would be such a higher level of offense from “cunt” that they should go through the effort to censor it alone. Once I’ve opted to watch a program riddled with “fucks” I’m not going to shut it off for use of “cunt”. It’s hard for me to imagine who would.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Jean Hay February 9, 2015 / 10:06 am

    An interesting alternative use of the word is as almost a term of affection among some teenage boys in Australia (at least in Queensland). While they still use the word to insult someone, usually male, they often refer to each other as cunt, like mate, in conversation. Meaning seems to be determined by the volume, inflection, and emotion injected into the word as well as the context. I’m not sure if this is reflected anywhere else, in the UK perhaps.


    • Stan Carey February 9, 2015 / 10:14 am

      I’ve heard it used affectionately by women and men in Scotland and Ireland.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Kate Warwick February 9, 2015 / 12:51 pm

        Me too in the East End of London. In the corpus the spoken, connotative version was often entirely used between people who were very familiar with each other.

        Liked by 1 person

  12. Kate Warwick February 9, 2015 / 12:59 pm

    Sorry, ‘often used’, not ‘often entirely used’…


  13. sadpress February 9, 2015 / 7:16 pm

    In certain contexts in Scotland (working class maybe? More men-dominated maybe) it can have a sort of quasi-neutral flexibility. “That old cunt yer dad aye?” …

    I have heard it as a verb (or “I was cunted last night”)

    I’m perhaps a bit wary of the phonosemantic aspect of the analysis & I don’t think the existence of less forceful but otherwise seemingly semantically similar words such as twat points to cunt’s force being to do with anything other than misogyny. I suspect cunt the grenade is almost entirely powered by misogyny, even when used of men


    Liked by 1 person

    • Craig February 9, 2015 / 11:14 pm

      I don’t think misogyny is a convincing explanation at all, considering that people similarly use other body parts, not necessary female, as insults: “he’s a dick”, “he’s a prick”, “he’s an asshole”, etc. As best I can understand it from my perspective in America, the British use of “he’s a cunt” seems pretty much the same as saying “he’s a dick” or “he’s an asshole”, so where’s the misogyny?


      • Kate Warwick February 10, 2015 / 9:03 am

        I’d love to do some more research into the perceptions of swear words. I think ‘cunt’ is more explosive than ‘dick’ or ‘asshole’ in the UK, but perhaps they are more explosive in American that I understand (being British). The interesting thing for me is why ‘cunt’, of all the words for genitalia (male & female) should have become so offensive. Geoffrey Hughes tells us that there are almost no instances of amelioration in words referring to women, so it isn’t surprising that ‘cunt’ should become more offensive as its meaning is extended. The question for me is why ‘cunt’ and not another word. Why not ‘twat’ or even ‘cock’, seeing as it seems to be phonetically equally as strong? *goes off to think!*

        Liked by 1 person

  14. Elizabeth Lilly February 11, 2015 / 2:58 am

    American daughter of an Englishman who has lived a bit in the UK. Cunt is much harsher in the U.S. than in Britain. It really doesn’t seem to be a big deal in the UK, while here in the States it is deeply hateful. I would generally shrug it off and not think about it again when hearing it in England, whereas in America I would stop and stare, think the speaker was vicious, misogynistic, likely dangerous, and remember it for days. Twat, snatch, etc. are also quite offensive, and rarely used, but nothing rivals cunt for shocking the listener here.

    A couple more thoughts: Cunt is used more than once in Lady Chatterley’s lover. Once quite tenderly, when her lover tells her, “Th’art [Thou art] a good cunt,”

    Back in the 1950s a friend of the family who worked in academia gave a list of naughty words to women he worked with in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and asked to rank them in order of offensiveness. (He was a sweetheart of a guy, which I expect is why he got away with this.) Half the women put cunt at the top of the list, most of the rest put fuck at the top of the list. Those who didn’t put cunt at the top ranked it basically anywhere on the list randomly. After chatting with a few of the women our friend realized that these women had never heard the word before and had no idea what it meant.

    Liked by 2 people

    • rhythmrhymebox May 14, 2016 / 10:39 pm

      I’m a fan of Lawrence and have enjoyed this thread. Inspired a little ditty. Hope you like it.

      Let’s be blunt
      You’re a cunt

      The word cunt
      Can confront
      Cunt bears the brunt
      Of so much shit
      It makes me munt

      I wish mankind
      Would take the grunt
      From lovely cunt
      And be man… kind.

      Like DH Lawrence
      In Lady C
      Does not affront
      ‘Thou art good cunt’

      Liked by 2 people

  15. djbcjk February 13, 2015 / 10:53 pm

    In western NSW, Australia, (though no doubt elsewhere) I’ve been struck by the pronominal use of “the cunt”, especially in the object position, as a casual, almost prosodic, replacement for “him”, “her” or “it”. It’s pronoun-like use can be heard most clearly when it’s used as a replacement for an inanimate object (“I haven’t done the cunt”), usually with a slight amount of disparagement, but sometimes as a straight pronoun.


    • Chips Mackinolty February 15, 2015 / 3:55 pm

      @ DJBCJK. You’re right, while many object to the use of the word at all, it is commonplace and as often as not, used in a non-derogatory way.

      Two things.

      First. It is regular in Australia to refer to someone as a “silly old cunt” or as “a decent sort of cunt”. As DJBCJK suggests, there is an element of disparagement, but hardly a brutal attack. There is often a kind of affection to the word in certain phrases such as these. In other contexts, perhaps, a sign of resignation/exhaustion: “it’s been a cunt of a day” or “it was a cunt of a thing to happen”.

      Second. Despite its relative ubiquity in Australian speech, there is nevertheless a prurient glee in “catching someone out” using the word. Last May (2014), Australia’s federal education minister was “outed” using the word to describe the leader of the opposition [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5TsNL3uBw1g]: his defenders claimed he instead used the word “grub”, not cunt. Hard to tell with his markedly Adelaide accent, but audio analyses were ambivalent.

      To the extent the event was reported, the headline speculation was whether Pyne had used “The C-bomb word”. More recently, he was filmed having a go at another opposition politician with the phrase “See you next Tuesday!”, long a euphemism for cunt (though Thursday also works). [http://www.news.com.au/national/did-christopher-pyne-just-use-a-coded-insult-against-anthony-albanese/story-fncynjr2-1227210122350].

      Pyne, a somewhat prissy parliamentary attack dog, has consistently denied using the word cunt, directly or in code.

      Back in the day, out bush in the Northern Territory, the radio alphabet was routinely used to spell out the names of things on shared broadcast frequencies. One frequency was called VJY, and allowed phone calls to be connected to two way radio, and was moderated by one of the wonderful “VJY ladies”. A friend was on the phone to me, and referred to a mutual acquaintance as a “charlie uniform november tango”. At the end of the call, the VJY lady said [on air, I think]: “so you don’t like him much?”. My response? “Roger that, but he’s not a bad sort of bastard.”

      Liked by 1 person

      • Old Gobbo February 15, 2015 / 10:17 pm

        Some thoughts from a UK (mostly southern England) native speaker.

        “You cunt !”, along with “You cunts !”, conveys extreme dislike and contempt, even hatred (if often tinged with fear, having discovered what the other is capable of). ~This would be true said to man or woman; but oddly the singular can be felt as even more forceful than the plural.

        The same is largely true of “You are a (real) cunt !” / “You really are a cunt !” when said emphatically; but “You (really) are a cunt” said wearily is less forceful, meaning e.g. you are an unpleasant obstacle / you are incredibly silly / you really manage to screw things up

        “You silly cunt” – ranges from affectionate to strongly contemptuous, but not necessarily, indeed probably not, disliking. It really focuses on stupidity.

        “The cunts !” tends towards “You cunts !”; whereas “Those cunts down in (personnel / creative / pick your favourite*)” is contemptuous and implies that they obstruct one’s actions but rarely has the extreme force of “You cunts”

        With other expletives – e.g. “You fucking cunts”, while scarcely a mark of approbation, the effect is actually weaker than “You cunts” on its own.

        Overall it is my impression that, whether used of man or woman, most people practising verbal abuse forget / lay aside the original physical meaning of the word: if spoken in earlier times, ‘cunt’ might well be replaced with “devil” for instance** – though ignoring the physical meaning might need qualification nowadays, I am not well up in on-line abuse. I think the same is also true of e.g. “You prick !“ (total or otherwise) – the physical reference is lost beside the essential meaning here of deeply unpleasant / malignant / obstructive / cretinous / &c.

        The effect is that one can use a taboo word to provide derogatory emphasis, without worrying too much about its origin.

        Hope this helps.

        *Mine is currently Chronopost in France, for reasons too long, and simultaneously depressing and enraging to go into here

        ** e.g. Emilia: ”thou dost belie her and thou art a devil”, Othello, 5ii132, or Vittoria “O thou most cursed devil” White devil 5vi124

        Cf. https://stronglang.wordpress.com/2015/02/06/what-gives-cunt-its-offensive-power/


  16. Peter STAP March 11, 2015 / 8:25 am

    I live in France, where the word ‘con’ is used to mean ‘stupid’. But whereas in Britain to say ‘big prick’ meaning ‘silly nit’, is not at all unusual, there is no equivalent in French. Are French men so ‘macho’ ?


  17. ... July 10, 2015 / 1:09 am

    I think cunt just has a harsh tone to it. Its hard to explain but it just doesn’t roll off the tongue well. What I find more strange is that even though “pussy” is actually a curse word, it sounds much less vulgar than “vagina” and definitely has way way less punch to it than “cunt”. Pussy sounds cute and playful actually. Say “you got a pretty pussy” vs “you got a pretty vagina” vs “you got a pretty cunt”. Pussy just seems to roll off the tongue better.

    I’m a 17 year old guy in the US and I actually think nigga is more accepted than cunt. Teenagers (including me) love to push the boundaries when it comes to swearing. Me and my friends say fuck, shit, bitch, and many other curse words pervasively to the point where it comes out instinctively. My mom actually said she listened in on us once and was shocked at much cursing we did and said “y’all are like fuck this and fuck that”.

    I’m glad that’s all she heard though because me and some of my friends also say nigga occasionally even though we’re all white. We listen to a lot of rap and I guess we just can’t help but use some of the same words that rappers use. Nigga is definitely different though because it doesn’t come out instinctively like the others do. Its okay our closed groups but we don’t say it if someone we don’t know very well is hanging out with us.

    Cunt on the other hand, is weird. Even teenage guys almost never say it and when we do its to talk about how weird it is that we never say it. On TV and movies, you almost never hear cunt used either but I’ve definitely heard nigga used plenty of times. In music, nigga is said many times in pretty much every rap song and even used in several pop songs but the only person I’ve ever heard say cunt is Eminem and even he rarely says it.

    Its interesting because nigga is supposed to have racial connotations and cunt is supposed to have sexist connotations but nigga is way way way more accepted than cunt. I’m still trying to figure out why.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Chips Mackinolty September 20, 2015 / 10:52 am

    In the last week or so, even before surviving a ministerial re-shuffle, the Australian Minister for the Environment, Greg Hunt, has been described on Facebook as “the minister for rhyming slang”!


  19. Kate Warwick September 21, 2015 / 9:38 am

    Brilliant! We had one of those here too; Jeremy Hunt the Culture Secretary proved too much for some BBC broadcasters.


    • Sue Smith May 6, 2016 / 7:23 pm

      Is that because he is one?


  20. hebgb September 23, 2015 / 7:32 pm

    Cunt has a ring of finality to it. It also sounds like punt which is a rather violent way to end a play in football. Bunt, on the other hand is softened by the ‘b’ and suggests a skillful tap. Twat sounds like an abbreviation and that it should go on and on. Pussy, on the other hand, is more controversial. Maybe like beaver, it is soft and furry, which may be why it was ever used to describe a vagina. However, I think the root is in pussilanimous, about which I have written here: https://atokenmanblog.wordpress.com/2015/03/18/on-pussy/ Either way, since the modern tendancy is to shave, perhaps cunt (being more abrupt and to the point) will find new favour amongst all you fuckers out there.
    Excellent piece. Will follow.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Robin October 28, 2015 / 1:35 pm

    In my head “cunt” sounds more aggressive than “twat”. That might relate to the occasions on which I have heard (or rather read online, as I don’t live in an English-speaking country) the respective words. “Twat” seems like something you could say jokingly, but if you tried to say “cunt” jokingly it would sound threatening anyway. “Bitch” is something of the same. It’s a threatening word (depending somewhat on the setting). I would not feel safe if a man angrily called me “bitch” or “cunt”. Both words have a more serious feel to them than “twat”, or “idiot”, for that matter. Just my two cents.


  22. Withoutnail December 9, 2015 / 9:19 am

    I’m an actor. We play a game in idle moments called ‘Cunt or Lovely’. Someone says the name of an actor and everyone else has to immediately say either cunt or lovely. I won’t name names but there are many prima donnas who get unanimous ‘cunt’ votes instantly. It can be very funny.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. hotmessmemoir December 16, 2015 / 5:18 am

    I treated the word cunt as the kiss of death, the devil’s middle name. When I heard the word, I cringed. Then I met my boss and worked for her. After 2 months of working for the hag, I changed her name to Cuntalia and I am pretty confident she is too stupid to catch this is how we name our humans.


  24. katewarwick2015 December 17, 2015 / 2:12 pm

    I’m fascinated that people seem to be saying that there’s a friendly and not-so-friendly way of saying ‘cunt’. Am assuming that between friends is one thing; in anger or about someone you don’t like, is quite another. Wish there was some data on this…


    • edrandom December 17, 2015 / 2:38 pm

      A related piece by Ally Fogg: “However I am convinced that there is a profound difference between British and American usage. In Britain the word is mostly used for the performative power of its vulgarity, and its misogyny is unnoticed and incidental. In the US, the word is mostly used for its performative misogyny and it is the vulgarity, in terms of social class, which goes unnoticed and incidental.”
      at http://freethoughtblogs.com/hetpat/2014/05/12/how-to-confuse-an-american-the-politics-of-the-c-word/


    • Paul DiGiovanniantonio November 29, 2016 / 10:45 am

      In Boston, we say “gay” but it has nothing to do with homosexuality in certain contexts. Ex: “that movie was gay.” Or “dude… sully’s party last night was so gay. There were like 3 people there.” It can mean “lame” or “stupid” or “pointless”. “Hey Bill… you really should rake those leaves behind your house. Naw… that’s gay. It’s gonna snow tomorrow anyways.” Literally zero to do with homosexuality.

      We use “fuck” as a pause like a lot of the USA uses “ummmm”. “Four score and seven years ago, our forefathera brought forth….. fuck…. fuck…. dammit…. awww this is gay. Screw it.”

      In terms of cunt…. people say it. You can’t call your boss a cunt if you work in corporate america but on the docks it’s ok. I am sure teachers and students call each other cents behind their backs. I’ve heard many many guys use it to refer to a woman who hurt then somehow. If a woman overheard that term used to describe her, I am pretty sure she would launch a nuclear attack.

      Jim Jeffries the Australian comedian drops “cunt” into his Netflix routine about 10000 times. The audiences faces are priceless because america is soooooo prudish and puritanical with language that they never hear it. He could have got up on stage and just said “cunt cunty cunt cunt cunt” to the tune of “we’re not gonna take it” by twisted sister for 45 minutes and that would have been the show. Plus the show was in Tennessee, a bible-thumping ultra-conservative not-fun place.

      There’s a congresswoman in CA who wants to make the use of words husband and wife illegal. Says that they connote possession because we say “my husband” and “my wife”. She thinks in legal language in CA, it should be limited to spouse or married couple… something gender neutral. I think the moron of a governor they have, Jerry Brown, signed a bill in 2015.

      Did she ever stop to think that the word “my” in front of “wife” might be a term of endearment? Or a term that connotes specialness of the relationship. Would she outlaw the phrase “my one and only someone”?

      You should a study on that Congresswoman and how being that politically correct is bad for your brain, society, and the planet.

      I mostly vote Democrat and I’m embarrassed that there’s Democratic leaders like her with an issue like that on her mind while the world around her is on fire. What a joke.

      I have no real conclusion to this spiel so I’m just gonna stop. Have a great day.


  25. benrattle March 27, 2016 / 7:08 am

    Godwin Clawecunte! Oh sweet Jesus, that’s genius. If I ever have a son…

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Pingback: The Dreaded C-Word
  27. Honestly Speaking The Truth October 14, 2016 / 10:10 pm

    Very soon many women will be holding up Signs called Cunt Power.


  28. timbentinck November 29, 2016 / 11:31 am

    Here’s a wonderful example of how the English use it. And I defy you not to laugh at this usage!

    Oh the joy!

    Liked by 1 person

  29. Kronos July 30, 2017 / 2:02 am

    I think it’s actually rather petty, I say Cunt, Fuck, Bastard but mostly Cunt a lot whether it be over the ineternet or to someone directly because let’s be bluntly honest in this day and age the word reallt does actually apply even to me.
    The part that cracks me up is how people get os offended and upset which is just pathetic to be fair it’s just a word like get over it. I get calld a Cunt sometimes and I laugh at it and go thank you for the grand title. It isn’t any worst than calling a guy a dick or a prick it has the same typical effect in the sense of what you’re reffering to yet suddenly everyone is ok with dick but die inside at the idea of cunt LMFAO please zzzzzz rolls eyes.
    My EX GF called m a dick and a prick reffering to the male genitals and I laughed it off staing and you’re being a bit of a cunt your point? Where I kept my ok she blew up do you see how i’m making a valid point here. It just went in one ear and I thought as we’re being blunt and honest fais fair. I dumped her afterwards because seriously grow up if you can fire profanity you get it back. The truth is it’s over rated people overreact it’s a fucking word ffs it own’t kill you lol.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Stan Carey July 30, 2017 / 8:36 am

      It’s a false equivalence to say calling a woman a cunt is no worse than calling a man a prick, because they’re not used in isolation but with a historical (and continuing) context of patriarchy and sexual violence and abuse against women.

      Liked by 1 person

      • katewarwick2015 August 2, 2017 / 3:47 pm

        It’s also just occurred to me that although a man can be a called both a prick and a cunt… it would be odd to refer to a woman as a ‘bit of a prick’… #todaysrandomthought


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