The Periodic Table of Swearing


Click for super grande. The guys at Modern Toss made this as a poster. Sadly, they're all sold out for now. I hope they make more!

(via @timoreilly, @gnat and @templesmith)


  1. If this is accurate, the UK is still living in the middle ages of obscenity. It reads like Chaucer with modern spelling.

  2. “Piss in a git cup” (Pgc) might just be my new favorite swear. I’m not sure when/how to use it, though.

  3. This just proves that there’s nothing more hilarious than an angry Brit. Arseholes for goalposts?! I have no idea what it means but I’m making it my mission to throw that into conversation some time this weekend.

    1. There are several reasons I have trouble accepting this as “true art”:

      * These guys appear to sell most of their stuff for pocket change — if their other gear isn’t worthy of “true art” prices, why is this?

      * Novelty PTotE’s are… losing their novelty

      * I don’t see anything that differentiates this from your average hipster t-shirt design from shirt.woot, threadless, etc.

      1. Well anything is art. The moment you say “this is art”, it is. Andy Warhols photocopied shit would never have passed for art unless he said “this is art” or others agreed “yep, its art”.

        I for one think its kind of beautiful also I prefer brits swearing to american swearing becuase it, at first glance, sounds more intricate, creative and fun. Even if it isn’t its still better than the string of one syllable words you otherwise get.

        Theres this wonderful text written by… a litterature prof (I think) here in Sweden back in 92-93 concerning swearwords and how much they teach us about a group or the past of a group. What we use as swear words where the forbidden words of our past and that you can see what was and wasn’t ok by just going over them.

  4. i’d take “you look like a tit” as a compliment. honestly, what looks better than tits?

  5. I like it and all (94 is especially great) but I’m confused about why they picked the periodic table format. You’d logically assume that if you were going to use a chemistry analogy for obscenities, that “Prat” would be an element, whereas “Shitting Prat” would be a compound.

  6. Modern Toss was also a very funny animated series for those who don’t know. The space argument guys were probably my favourite…

  7. It is funny–I particularly like the key. But it could be much funnier. If they had got a chemist to consult, there’d be many more opportunities. Yes, they base the groups on similar curses but I…never mind, I sound like a pedant. But they really drop the ball on the rare earths.

    1. Yes, exactly. By the way, why are there *two* “elements” with an atomic number of 1? Is Ck supposed to be the deuterium of swearing?

  8. fanny for arse, pissed for angry, mo-fo and rap culture based slurs, swearing 1.1a?

    I think not, a pox on ye vartlet for suggesting it.

  9. Actually, if this were a PT of Epithets and printed with the above comments, the humorous factor would increase by 9.6rEhQ+~.

    I wonder how many of the commentators (or is that common-tators?) actually considered and started writing their own version and then stopped? I know I did.

  10. Trippy factoid on that: in the bonus features of the DVD, Ben Kingsley says there’s not a syllable improvised in the whole movie. He says he had to count every “No!” in his crazy rant in the kitchen, for example, to make sure he had the right number. I choose to believe that’s true.

  11. For the mormons: ‘Plant food’ is meow-meow.
    Also, this is least progressive post ever, and the above mentioned drug does not make it palatable. I can only expect we will be seeing comments about race soon?

    1. “For the mormons”? Right, then. Urban Dictionary to the rescue: #94, “Acting like a cock snake on plant food” – got it. Sort of a nasty put-down then, like?

      This PTOE is more about insulting others than swearing.

  12. That chart convinces me that in our society sex, engaging in intercourse, and even having genitals are seen as bad things.

    Which is sad.

    1. It is a religious view, which abhors all that would, by operations upon our human senses or otherwise, distract from and degrade thereby our spiritual nature.

      See also “mind-altering substances: why they are hated & feared and their use subject to harsh penalties” wherever religion holds power.

      Well, at least those religions which claim to be the descendants of Abraham – Christians, Muslims, Jews. I doubt the Taoists or Buddhists are so worked up about either sex or mind-altering substances.

    2. It’s human nature to have taboo words. Every culture has them. It seems to be part of our language process that they are needed in order express a certain set of things.

      I’m curious, as the current generation of taboo words lose their taboo, what will replace them…

  13. All I get is a 403 FORBIDDEN when trying to view the table at a readable size. Is it because I live in the “bible belt”?

  14. In fairness, once one is properly married, IIRC all of those religions encourage that the conjugal debt be settled as often as is practicable – as often as once a day, for the young and healthy.
    So they can be said to be more anti-pre-marital sex, than anti-sex, per se.
    But that “quibble” has not prevented many who have strong religious convictions from extending their abhorrence of pre-marital sex to include all sex whatsoever, or even the very thought of sex, within the scope of their strict prohibitions.

  15. I’ve never really understood most British swears (obviously, since I’m not British), but you can bet your arse you will be hearing “Christ on a Fucking Bike” out of my mouth on a fairly regular basis. That one made be shoot beer out of my nose.

  16. On behalf of the UK, I thank you for your kind words about our creative swearing. It means a lot.

    For a masterclass in swearing see Malcolm Tucker in The Thick Of It (“Come the fcuk in or fcuk the fcuk off ..”).

    My favourite oath at the moment is shitting crikey. It always makes a bad situation better.

  17. Very British. We need one translated to English. I mean, seriously, what is with all this “prat” nonsense? Sour owl sh*t.

    They left out obvious standbys:
    Son of a bi*ch
    Son of bi*ch (Office Space reference, I’m pretty sure)
    Mother fcuking son of a bitch

    “Fcuk it” and “fcuk that sh*t” are glaringly absent. In spite of those omissions, it’s mostly sexual. We can’t say tit on the radio in America since Bush (we can still say bush), but most Americans don’t really consider the word profane, just crude. American swearing is a bit more religious, which I never realized before. I don’t see damn in the chart anywhere, which leads one immediately to note that it’s also missing all standard variants of taking the lord’s name in vain, if you don’t count “bloody” as short for “blood of Christ”.

    Hell is used only twice, and in conjunction with bloody both times. Should be a standalone for sure, and those as*holes are fcuking up by not having “fcuking hell” in there somewhere.

    I can tell I’ve been thinking about this too much already, as my science dork side is kicking in, and the thought occurs to fill out the noble gasses column with words that are standalone and really don’t interact with others. Though I can’t actually think of any. In a world with fcuk, is that even possible?

    1. it is already in English, what you need is an English to your local dialect translation tool.

  18. If I click on the picture I get this error:


    You don’t have permission to access /images/143.jpg on this server.

    1. I bet if you read the other postings, you’d find this very complaint more than once.

      I also bet you’d find a working link.

  19. Long ago I had the pleasure of meeting Reinhlod Aman, publisher of Maledicta. I owned about 4 editions of Maledicta. If you ever run across a copy, you’ll be entertained. He’s out of jail now and still going :) Americans are really not very creative a the art of swearing.

  20. @a_user

    I never said translate to ‘english’. I said translate to ‘American’. Big difference.

  21. I think that they should have divided it up so on the left their were feminine curses on the right it was masculine currses. This would sort of create an analog between electronegativity and gender specificity.

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