Cussing creativity

When I was growing up, we didn’t cuss in our house. When my dad slipped up and said the sh-word, or Mom, lady that she was, said “hell” or “damn,” it was a cause for gasps all around. So, in my linguistic naiveté, I used to use words I’d heard that I thought sounded like cussing.

Let me clarify the difference between cussing and cursing. Cussing is using bad words, while cursing took it to another level. Cursing was calling down God’s
wrath upon someone, wishing evil to befall them. Cursing was strictly off limits, therefore. And you didn’t even have to use cuss words to do it. The curse could sound something like this, said to a nosey little brother: “If you ever read my diary, I hope your nose turns blue and falls off.”

One of my favorite existing words was Phenobarbital. Another was paregoric. Since my dad was a pharmacist—we call ‘em “druggists” back then—I suppose it was only fitting that the worse sounding words in my vocabulary were medicines. Diarrhea sounds as bad as the actual condition. When really angry, I’d draw out the third syllable in a growl. It sounded pretty much like cussing to me.

Somehow fiddlesticks or shucks didn’t sound quite ominous enough; darn was a mite better. I’d really step up to the big time if I used darnit or dagnammit. When I ran out of cuss-like words, I started to make them up, or combine words to make an original cuss word that no one knew was actually cussing.

Some of the ones I coined had harsh consonant sounds, sometimes with a real word sandwiched in between two nonsense syllables, the longer the better. Gara-drat-tation. Pan-drak-ton. Dang-crip-ity. Sounded pretty bad at the time, but perhaps some lexicographer will discover that my youthful cussing creativity was actually genius and include them in a Cussing Dictionary of English Speaking People. It could happen!

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