grawlix: the sequence of unpronounceable characters used in place of profanities in comics

Swear words and profanities from around the world.


More rude

Questions & Answers

What's this all about then?

It’s a celebration of swearing. Because swearing is great!

Choosing the right swear word is one of life’s great pleasures. Perhaps it's a muttered "dickhead" when you see that guy on the telly, or shouting "MOTHERFUCKER" with tears streaming down your face when you stub your toe on the bed for the third time in one morning. But the right word at the right time is a uniquely human joy.

Swearing is powerful, emotion-filled, raw. We swear to express frustration and rage, pain and pleasure, love and hate.

And it’s fascinating too, beyond the shock factor.

The power of a swear word — the rudeness — comes from breaking taboos, naming the things that society says are dirty, forbidden or repulsive. And if we look at swear words from the right angle then we can peer back into the values of the society that created them.

Look at the number of vulgar words for men and women, in English at least. There are more rude words for women than for men. There are words like slut that have no male equivalent. The most vulgar word in English refers to female genitalia. What does that tell us?

And finally, there’s something wonderful about swear words too. Because whoever you are and wherever you live, we’re all human, we all shit and piss, and we all get cross if someone calls our mum a slag. And I think there’s something beautiful in that.

I know the best swear word! Can you add it?

I would love to add your rude words. I’d especially like to hear more non-English swear words (so I can swear around the kids without them knowing) and obscure or regional vulgarities.

Click here to

How did you decide how rude a word is?

Rudeness is complicated. In one sense, rudeness is highly subjective: what offends me might not offend you. But swearing is based on the breaking of taboos that are created by society at large, so there’s definitely a hierarchy of sorts, even if it’s unspoken and vague.

I reckon we in the UK could all agree that bonk is less rude than shag, which is less rude than fuck — the difficulty would be in putting an exact number on how vulgar a word is. So I’ve intentionally chosen a format that’s imprecise, and leaves room for your interpretation.

Other people have also tried to at least group swear words by their vulgarity too — I’ve borrowed liberally from a survey by Ofcom, the British communications regulator.

Why haven’t you included [profanity]?

I haven’t included slurs — derogatory words for a specific group of people based on race, sexuality and so on — because they feed prejudice. That’s not to say that slurs aren’t interesting in their own way, but they need handling with more caution than good old-fashioned vulgarities and I don’t want to get yelled at on Twitter.

There’s an argument to be made that words like slut are misogynist slurs, given that there’s no equivalent pejorative word for men. But I’ve included words like that to illustrate the difference in swear words for men and women, which I think is illuminating in a way that included racial slurs (for example) wouldn’t be.

Who made this?

Hi! My name’s Tom.

I’m a freelance developer, and I love making stuff like this: irreverent, interactive, data-driven. I’m always open to new clients and projects, so drop me an email if you want to chat.

I also do *serious face* proper work — why not take a look at my portfolio?

Paul Barton helped with the back-end. (Sadly not the other Paul Barton who plays classical music to elephants)