Sweary masks

The current occupant of the White House excepted, just about everyone these days acknowledges that protective masks—or “face masks,” as they’re sometimes called, as though we might confuse them with elbow masks—are here to stay for as long as COVID-19 is uncontained, or maybe forever. (In California, where I live, they’re required attire outside the home when physical distancing isn’t possible.)

Rather than see masks as an annoyance, why not regard them as an opportunity for self-expression? Fortunately, many crafty merchants appear to know exactly the sort of self-expression we Strong Languagers prefer.


If you want to ease gradually into sweary-mask style, here’s a discreet statement that allows safely distanced viewers to draw their own conclusions.

censored mask
Buy at Red Bubble


“Fuckity-fuck” is such a sprightly expletive, and this shade of coral is so appealing, that you’re practically guaranteed immunity from pesky viruses.* For more on fuckity, see Ben Zimmer’s 2015 post, The Road from Blankety-Blank to Fuckity-Fuck.

fuckity fuck
Buy at Etsy.


A holographic F*CK OFF mask is just the thing for raves and festivals, according to the vendor’s product copy. Because we all can’t wait to get up close and sweaty with 30,000 strangers at a festival, right? (Hat tip: Jordie Welles)

holographic FUCK OFF
Buy at Etsy.


Here’s a highly specific sport mask for baseball fans who give zero fucks about rival pastimes.

fuck golf play baseball
Buy at Teepublic


Etsy vendor SewGeekStudios posts a caveat on their Etsy store: “Do not swipe if you are easily offended by rude language or cartoon images of male genitals.” Duly noted! Each of these perky designs—I’m a Ray of Fucking Sunshine, Fresh Out of Fucks, and Zero Fucks Given—will set you back $14. Also available: Bitch Please I’m a Unicorn and the forewarned male genitalia.

Flowers and fucks
Buy at Etsy


Who doesn’t love an obscenicon? (Or, if you prefer, a grawlix. Ben Zimmer, however, makes a strong case for the former.) This Roy Lichtenstein–esque model also comes in blue.

Red obscenicon mask
Buy at Red Bubble


The Grawlix Podcast discusses comic books, TV, and films and includes a definition of grawlix on the home page: “A string of typographical symbols (such as %@$&*!) used in place of an obscenity, especially in comic strips.” Logo-adorned swag includes pillows, mugs, T-shirts, notebooks, and, of course, reusable masks.

Grawlix Podcast mask
Buy at Teepublic


This multifunctional accessory is an all-in-one mask, neck gaiter, bandanna, and headband. The word cloud includes some inventive swears: fucktrumpetcockcheese, and wankbox, to name a few.

swear words mask gaiter
Buy at Squeaky Chimp


The text says BACK THE FUCK OFF, but in the sweetest possible manner. You can also buy the fabric by the yard for sewing your own masks, curtains, quilts—you name it. (Speaking of naming it, Scurrility—the noun form of scurrilous, “given to using coarse language”—is pretty swell.)

back the fuck off
Buy at Etsy


If your friends can read this mask, they’re standing too close. The collage includes some mild epithets—heck, blimey, prat, jerk—as well as asswipe, fuckface, and pissfart.

word cloud mask
Buy at Etsy


Are you wearing a memorable sweary mask? Leave a comment with a photo or link!


* You are not guaranteed immunity.



7 thoughts on “Sweary masks

  1. Keith June 20, 2020 / 3:44 pm

    I saw a picture a few weeks ago of a woman wearing a mask with penises printed on the fabric. Beneath was some text like “Whenever somebody comments on the printed fabric, I shout ‘THAT MEANS YOU’RE TOO FUCKING CLOSE! BACK OFF!'”.

    I don’t remember where I saw it, but a bit of googling found a vlog on Fesse-Bouc:

    Liked by 1 person

  2. John Cowan June 20, 2020 / 6:12 pm

    Yet another sense of mask to confuse people with! I use a mask over my eyes to sleep in a room I can’t darken very well, as well as a mask over my nose and mouth to breathe (I have apnea), as well as an assortment of masks (sorry, plain white or plain black) for going outside nowadays. When I go into a drugstore and ask for an eye mask, I am looking for #1 but frequently get pointed to goop you plaster around your eyes instead. Sleep mask could be either #1 or #2.

    I wouldn’t want to wear a #3 mask that said the equivalent of “Back the fuck off”. It conveys a message of belligerency that I find to be a bad idea at any time. (It’s probably relevant that I am 185 cm, 130 kg, and built accordingly; I can seem aggressive by just walking.)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Keith June 21, 2020 / 8:34 am

    Not sweary, but on the general subject of masks…

    There are skin products sold under the name “mask”… I understood that easily. My daughter puts this kind of creamy paste over the skin of her face and since it’s a face covering the term “mask” is apt.

    Then she told me that she had used a “hair mask”… “To disguise your hair?”, I asked. She gave me the look that millennials and gen Z kids have when talking to boomers.

    Another idea came to mind… I seem to remember that some state in the USA passed a law requiring anybody riding a motorcycle on public roads to wear a helmet. But the law did not specify “on the head”. So to protest against the law, motorcyclists went around wearing helmets on their elbows.


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