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Let’s talk spicy language. Whether in English or another language, what is your favorite curse, swear, or insult word? We asked our staff to sound off on their favorite spicy language. What’s yours?

Sydney Walters

“For heldevede!” (pronounced: Fuhr-hell-due)

It’s the Danish (Dansk) version of “for fuck’s sake!” or “oh, goddammit!”

It’s really easy to mumble amongst non-Danish speakers when they’re being a jackass.

Kelaine Conochan

I use enough curses in my regular life that I don’t need to toss them around in this miniprompt. Instead, I’m going with the kingpin of all insults: troglodyte.

The power of “troglodyte” is that you don’t even need to know what it means to feel its impact. The word alone sounds insulting, harsh, and brutish. And when you learn its definition and origin—cave-dweller, ancient Greece—you know there’s nothing charming or redeeming about it. This word is a dagger.

Jillian Conochan

Language is something I’m highly opinionated on: It’s humid, not (h)umid and “I’ll be right back with your change,” not “Do you need change?” Marry, merry, and Mary are all pronounced differently. ‘Discombobulate’ tries a little too hard to sound like what it’s describing for me to take it seriously—consider instead ‘bewildered,’ ‘befuddled,’ or ‘flummoxed’ (each conveys something slightly different).

You can imagine thusly, I have discrete rules for cursing and euphemisms.  “Oh fudge” simply will not cut it but “Oh snap,” particularly if intonated like Jay from Serial, is a fine substitution. Please, don’t come at me with anything you heard on The Good Place.

I am always amused by anachronistic language; for example, I’ve recently been saying how this humidity makes me ‘cross.’ And in the spirit of spicy language from a bygone era, I’m tagging in the perennially quotable Peter Campbell with his exclamation of “Hell’s Bells!” Balcony roast toss optional.

Sam Hedenberg

I’ve got a colorful vocabulary I’m constantly trying to keep under wraps while in mixed company. I always laugh when adults curse around my kids and put their hand to their mouth like they’re trying to push their “goddammit” back in, because there are more fucks flying around my house than planes at O’Hare.

Despite my affinity for Carlin’s Big 7, if I really want to cut you to the quick, there’s only one insult I reach for in my quiver:


I know it gives off serious Marty McFly vibes—nobody calls me chicken!—but something about that word summons some serious demons within me. Even gendered attacks on bravery like pussy that would never make network TV feel softer to me. It’s a word I reserve for only my worst enemies.

Katie Novotny

“You’re such a poop head!” I mutter this under my breath to whoever deserves that super insulting insult. I use words that don’t even hurt when I’m irrationally angry (or maybe very rationally) because I’m not allowed to think bad things about anyone. Or maybe I know that if I let out my true anger it’ll be so fiery and awful that I’ll get thrown in jail. Though, on second thought, walking around with a mountain of human feces on top of your dome is a pretty awful image, so maybe it’s fitting.

The Prompt Staff

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