PokéBalls aren’t what they sound like – fortunately. They are capsules used to catch Pokémon, those little creatures swarming our smartphones, our streets, our very lives thanks to Nintendo’s hit new mobile game, Pokémon Go. But when we’re not playing with our PokéBalls, we are playing with our Pokémon words – swears included.
On social media, wordplay, especially blending, has become a ritual reaction to major new stories and trends. Remember regrexit? Pokémon Go, naturally, has inspired its own blends: pokémontage, pokémoron, pokébond, The Count of Pokémonte Cristo, and yes, pokéfuck. Twitter alone is proving a veritable PokéStop for all manner of what we can only call pokéswears. Let’s see if we can, er, catch ‘em all.
1. Standalone pokéswears
2. In-game pokéswears
Some pokéswears take it out on the Pokémon creatures themselves. Often, these blends seem to invert terms of abuse into terms of endearment.
- Which pokèmotherfucker is getting caught today?
- Fuck Snorlax, always gettin in my god damn way makin me have to get that fuckin flute and shit. You’re a real pokeasshole dude.
- Hatch, you little Pokebitch
Others address fellow players and signal identity:
- If one more pokefucker shoves me out the way when I’m working to get at the pikachu[…]
- Pokefuckers, what team are y’all on? I haven’t chosen one yet.
- I’m a PokeBadass!
- Shoutout to Demi for being my Pokébitch.
3. Game-targeted pokéswears
Pokémon Go has its fans – and its haters. Many of these pokéswearers express their frustration with players. Pokéfucker is a popular construction here, though not exclusively so:
- tired of all these pokefuckers at the park
- Those goddamn pokefuckers keep running into me on campus. Watch where you’re going, not your stupid fucking phone game.
- As if some wanker got on the same boat tour as us so he could find a Gyarados[…]#PokeWanker[…]
Many pokéswearers decry the broader phenomenon of the game:
4. Sex-related pokéswears
Both men and women use pokéswears to riff on the game’s metaphorical mechanics of “hunting” and “catching”:
Inevitably, a few male users manage to take the wordplay too far: “Need a pokebitch to such my pokedick.”
The resemblance between poke and poké– is not lost on users. This tweet plays with both homonymy and phonology: “Fuk a Pokemon I’m tryna Pokepussy.”
5. ‘Ablative’ pokéswears
So far, we’ve seen poké + NOUN SWEAR. But other swears are proving poké– can do more. Consider these:
- Ugh run out of data. I’m pokéfucked.
- There are no pokéstops by my house, I’m pokéfucked
- Fucking pokébitch broke out of my fucking pokéball and now I’m fucking poképissed.
These blends convey a kind of causality or instrumentality: I’m fucked over/pissed off because of some Pokémon Go-induced event.
6. Intensifying pokéswears
Perhaps most interesting is a class of pokéswears that seem to be a different sort of hybrid:
Here, users appear to be kicking poké- into sweary expressions, as the blog’s own James Harbeck might describe it. The behavior of these insertions doesn’t suggest users are starting with a sweary blend (e.g., pokédamn) and adding it to a sweary template (I don’t give a –). Rather, while still obeying rules of rhythm and morphology, the poké– appears inserted for intensification. The phonological similarly of poké- to the intensifying fucking probably helps this “inkicking” along: one could even hear abso-poké-lutely or Jesus Poké Christ.
Finally, if this limited look on Twitter is any measure, pokébitch, pokécunt, pokédick, pokéfuck (and derived forms), and pokéshit are particularly popular forms. Their usage clusters around negative, out-group attitude towards Pokémon Go as well as around in-group, expressive acts (i.e., in-game or game-adjacent frustrations). Examples of pokémotherfucker and pokéasshole are much less frequent. Potential multi-compounds, such as pokéassclown or pokédickwad, currently yield no results, likely because they are very cumbersome.
The creativity and versatility of pokéswears are impressive, and there are no doubt many more of these little pokéfuckers out there for us capture. But the broader utility and productivity of pokéswears – and of the potential poké- libfix itself – remains to be seen. For now, one thing’s for sure: We have a lot of pokéuckin’ feelings about all this pokéshit, godpokédamnit.