WTF? How Swearing A Lot Makes You Smarter


Swearing or cussing isn’t something we tend to associate with our most enlightened moments. You bang your little toe on something, someone cuts you up in lane on the way to work, or even if your sports team lose a game at the last moment – all of these things can evoke a bout of swearing, and when it comes to people who swear a lot, we don’t tend to think of them as being the smartest.

However, a recent test has shown that people who swear a lot may actually have a bigger vocabulary than those who don’t! So, far from swearing being a sign that someone has run out of things to say, it could actually mean that you have plenty of words – but just don’t choose to use them right now!

In fact, swearing comes from a more emotional place than normal language, which is perhaps why, in English at least, most swear words are short and easy to yell (we’ll let you think of some of your favorites).


When tested a group of people who could prove they swore a lot by offering a wide range of profanities were also found to be better at other linguistic tests – showing a much wider vocabulary than less-prolific swearers.

However, bad language is often a sign of aggression, but Benjamin K. Bergen, linguist and author of ‘What the F: What Swearing Reveals About Our Language, Our Brains and Ourselves,’ says that swearing can even maybe used for good!

“I think of profanity like I think of nuclear reactions. It’s a concept we’ve created, it’s very powerful. Because it’s powerful, it can be used in lots of different ways. Nuclear reactions tell us how the universe works, and profanity tells us how humans work, how language works, how our brains work. Like nuclear reactions, it can be used, if you harness it, to great ends.”


While studies have shown that people who swear are no more likely to be aggressive than those who don’t it can be hurtful and upsetting in some situations. However, Bergen sees hope for swearing too:

“According to several studies, profanity can alleviate pain. It can make the swearer appear to be more confident, powerful, well-adjusted, funny. So I’m not advocating that people change how they use language necessarily. It’s not intrinsically good or bad, it’s just powerful. It’s what we do with it that makes a difference.”

Well, who the f*ck knew?




Photo Credit: Quotes Gram / How Stuff Works / Social News Daily / Odyssey

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