Alternative Swear Words

Originally posted on Just Contemporary Romance, June 2017.

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CompatibleTeaser3cI have to start by confessing a particularly bad habit of mine… I swear like a sailor. Actually, to be more accurate, I swear like a Quentin Tarantino film. It’s bad, and I promise I’m working on it. In my defense, certain words communicate the emotion better than the watered-down versions. And certain words just feel so good on the tongue.

With that in mind, you’d think writing a character who is deliberate about using alternative swear words would be difficult for me. In The Wrong Kind of Compatible, Cassie swears a lot (like me), but she substitutes alternative swear words. Not because she minds the swear words. Her reasons have more do with a little competition with her brothers (who have kids) to see who can be the most creative with the alternatives.

As a mama who struggles to tame this tendency around her kids, I love the idea of a character who tempers her habit for her nieces and nephews. However, I didn’t want Cassie to sound too prim or too “perfect mommy,” and so I had a goal with the alternatives.

Goal: funny but not too cutsie (which is a tricky balance to strike).

The other tricky part is coming up with word combinations which are obviously being used as swear words. There were a few combos I tried which, in context, I think would throw readers because it’ll take a minute to figure out that it’s a curse.

I thought you might get a kick out of some of the ones I came up with.

  • Cheese and krakens (couldn’t help myself. the geek in me rejoiced at this one.)
  • Goodnight nurse
  • Fish in a barrel
  • Fiddlesticks
  • Shut the truck up
  • Sure as shootin’
  • Honest to gravy
  • Bananas
  • Son of a nutcracker
  • Mother trucker
  • What the fedora
  • Gorgonzola on a stick
  • Cracker jacks
  • Heavens to megatron (this was mergatroid, but the geek in me had to change it)
  • Bull honkey
  • Work her corn nuts off
  • Farfegnugen
  • Dang rabbit
  • Fraggle rock

I mean, can you read those, or picture using them, without giggling? I can’t, which made them a lot of fun to write. I didn’t get to incorporate all of them, but I certainly tried.

How about you? Do you have any entertaining swear word alternatives?

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5 comments

  1. I did enjoy Cassie’s alternate cuss words. Reminds me of the time in my life when we were trying to do the same thing for some of the same reasons. Also included was a VFW canteen. We are talking about a lot of sailors, soldiers, flyboys, etc who knew how to cuss – and that included me. A cuss jar was set up as a fund raiser to try and curb some of the cussing. Made a pretty penny we did. We did also came up with some good substitutes. I think the favored one was “shuckydarn.” Of course us geeks also favor “frack” and “frell.”

    Liked by 1 person

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