Wh*t Did You Say? Symbols for C*ss Words

Arlene Miller, blogger on bigwords101.com, discussed the history and current usage of how cuss words are altered in writing as well as on television and radio. Grawlix, which refers to strings of symbols that are often used in place of cuss words, date back to comic books from the 1880s. However, the term wasn’t coined until the 1960s. Sometimes this is referred to as profanitype, however that is just a slang term for grawlix.

In modern days, many different versions of grawlix are used. Oftentimes, a single asterisk is used to replace a central vowel in the cuss word. Common symbols that are used include &, #, %, !, @, and ?.

The Federal Communications Commission has restrictions on what can be said on television and radio. Broadcasters typically replace a cuss word with an audible beep which is now referred to as “bleeping” something out.

In the article, Arlene Miller mentions last how many authors, producers, and broadcasters will replace the swear with a more acceptable replacement term such as jerk, heck, or gosh, allowing them to get their point across in a more appropriate manner.

-Briana Goold

Advertisements