Rocks, Merlin’s Pants, #@&$^*?!, and Other Swear Words


“WHAT THE @#&^%$*!?” Frodo exclaimed as another orc tried to impale him.

Yes, Frodo, we know. It’s an awesome sword, and we’re all jealous, so you can stop gloating now.

Yeah, seems out of place doesn’t it? Frodo doesn’t swear.

However, in all liklihood, Mr. Baggins would have sworn a great deal as he left the Shire for the Cracks of Mount Doom, nearly dying numerous times and all the while fighting the power of the Ring.

I despise excessive swearing, more than Tom Cruise movies or leopard-print coats (well, maybe not that much). It’s disgusting and rude and it belittles the swearer’s intelligence and depth of vocabulary. Personally, I don’t swear. I was raised that way and keep friends (save one) who also keep their language clean. That’s who we are.

However, the characters in my head are not those type of people. They’re rough and occasionally lewd, with tongues that more likely than not unleash foul language. And, writers generally place their characters in situations that would elicit “#$@^%!” from even me.

Generally, the YA that I read (and as the most easy-to-access and accommodating genre, it’s what I mostly read) is completely clean, aside from slang like “hell,” “crap,” and “damn,” along with the vague “she/he swore.” Books like the Wicked Lovely series go a bit higher, using frig, sh*t and even f*ck. And while I find swearing distasteful, in the mouths of these rock n’ roll characters it is acceptable, even adds to the authenticity of the person.

Then you have books like Kristin Cashore’s Fire, where her characters blurt out things like “ROCKS!” and “CLIFFS!” in frustration, or J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, where Ron’ll let out a bellowing, “MERLIN’S BEARD/PANTS/BAGGY Y-FRONTS!” There’s also Trumpkin of Lewis’ Narnia: “Beards and bedsteads!”

These are only ordinary words used in such a way that it’s considered slang, or even swearing, and we, the readers, understand what the author is trying to convey, even without the use of an ‘actual’ swear word.

But we love your pants, Merlin!

I’m not comfortable using the F-bomb (despite the high usage it sees nowadays, especially by young people), but I feel like sh*t would be something my characters would appreciate, lol.

So as I’ve been pondering repulsive language, I’ve created three lists.

Swear/slang words I’m comfortable using in my writing:

  • bitch/bastard (which in my opinion are acceptable words when used properly)
  • damn
  • piss
  • sh*t (and I’m still on the fence about this one. It would be used sparingly)
  • frig/friggen
  • crap
  • ass/asshole
  • I’d love to incorporate “bollux” but unfortunately I think that’s too famous a British term to use in a fantasy novel. I can settle for daily usage. 

Swear words I’m not comfortable using in my writing:

  • everything that’s not in the first list

Words that my characters use as slang in their world:

  • dragon’s teeth
  • dragon balls (I use this in day-to-day situations. Try it. People’s faces are priceless.)
  • *currently searching for more ideas*

Do your characters swear? Are you turned off by reading something with swear words in it?

May you have a @&#%*ing stupendous day and happy swearing writing/reading!!


5 thoughts on “Rocks, Merlin’s Pants, #@&$^*?!, and Other Swear Words

  1. My books are for “tweens”, 8 – 12 years old so I don’t use any swear words. I use OMG but that can stand for many things like Oh My Goodness. or Oh My Gosh. If I wrote YA I would probably use some swear words but sparingly. Your list is a good one.

    • I know some people think swearing takes away from the story, but I think it adds to the realistic quality of the character, depending on their personality and circumstance. Thanks for dropping by, Darlene. 🙂

  2. I personally have a lot of difficulty reading books with swearing in it. Mainly for the reason that I try very hard not to swear and when I’m reading something that encourages potty-mouth vocabulary in sticky situations I end up struggling. But I do really enjoy made up slang, I use “STARS AND SEAS!” or “great Borthon’s dragons!” But Borthon is an ancient king in Nuthriel, so don’t use that 😉
    Loves and hugs!

    • For some reason, books with excessive swearing don’t seem to rub off on me. Instead they make me feel like my characters are goody-goodies — which I don’t want them to be. I don’t think it would be entirely out of place for Tristan to swear once in a while, or Gowan and Taines, and using ONLY made up slang doesn’t fully complete my purpose. I hugely enjoy “great Borthon’s dragons,” but don’t worry, I won’t use it! 😉
      Email me? ❤

Drop a comment here!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s