What Makes a Word a “Curse” Word?

Curse words are words that we are not supposed to say. These words become popular through social practices, meaning if people didn’t continue to use curse words, or give them special meaning by our treatment of them, it’s unlikely we’d pass them on from generation to generation–they would practically be non-existent.

Recent studies from the nuero-psycho-social theory of speech show that more people curse over the internet than in person. They do this because they feel the people they don’t need to speak intelligently over the internet because no one is watching them. 9 out of every 10 people have used at least one curse word in something they posted on a social networking site.

To most people these words can be seen as inappropriate but to others these words are just a part of everyday living.  There have been other smaller studies which seem to show that cursing when you are injured or frustrated can actually (biologically) help deal with pain or stress.

In many social circles, using profanity makes you seem ignorant, like you have no knowledge of the other words that can be used in place of curse words. Yet even celebrities use curse words, both in public and professionally–they are a part of some of their songs or part of roles they may play in a movie.  Some celebs are, like it or not, role models, people we look to for advice and wisdom.  What does their use of profanity do to our culture?

So, are bad words actually, “bad?”  In a rather obvious example, in movies that are “edited for TV” curse words are often replaced with silly ones; Samuel L. Jackson just doesn’t have the same swagger when he’s saying “Get these ‘melon-farming’ snakes off this ‘melon-farming’ plane!”  If suddenly every teenager started using “melon-farmer” as a “curse” word, would that work?