Unusual Expletive YKTTW Discussion

Unusual Expletive
An ordinary word a particular character uses to swear with.
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(permanent link) added: 2012-02-26 18:42:00 sponsor: johnnye edited by: kjnoren (last reply: 2014-01-20 23:54:46)

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"Billions of bilious blue blistering barnacles!"
Captain Haddock of Tintin

When someone has a particular word or phrase they use as an expletive that isn't otherwise used as an expletive.

This is distinct from Goshdang It To Heck, which are Bowdlerizations of commonly accepted swear words. The Unusual Expletive does not stand in for a swear word—the character uses it as a swear word.

If a word or a class of words are used as expletives in Real Life, then this trope doesn't apply. That means that all names of gods fall outside the trope's scope, fictional deities or not. This also extends to names of sicknesses, sexual acts, or similar. There must be a sense of originality to the unusual expletive.

A kind of Catch Phrase. If the character uses a foreign word as an expletive, it's a Foreign Cuss Word.

The reason to use an unusual expletive can vary. Often, they are used instead of Goshdang It To Heck, like in children's shows where even "darn" can be viewed as offensive, but they can also be used as a way to add character or style to a person or a setting.

Index: These Tropes Should Watch Their Language.


Comic Books

  • Tintin — "Crumbs!" Captain Haddock often uses "Blistering blue barnacles!". Herge starting using this as a way to keep the comic kid-friendly, but the use of fun made-up expletives contributed greatly to the popularity of the comic and the character.
  • Luther Arkwright: The characters from parallel 00.00.00 uses the names of famous scientists from their history as interjections. Among the names used are Dalton, Marx, and Kepler.
  • In Golden Era Marvel Comics, the Sub-Mariner was known to emit "Holy Haddock" or "Suffering Shad"!



  • In Lum And Abner, the characters Lum and Abner use the words "Doggies" and "Grannies" whenever they want to swear.


  • Transformers lingo generally denotes slag, scrap and frag into swear words, just to grind in the fact that they're robots.

TV Series

Video Game

  • House of the Dead has this used in the Extended Cut version, when Varla starts swearing at Candi, the latter starts saying "Nothing" instead of swearing, misusing the saying, "If you have nothing nice to say, say nothing at all".

Web Animation

  • In Ultra Fast Pony, Fluttershy uses the names of black celebrities as expletives. This gets lampshaded in the second season: "All you ever do is shout out the names of random black people!"

Western Animation

  • Ray in Archer; 'Dukes!' — or, in particularly dramatic cases, 'Double-' or 'Triple-dukes!'
  • Butters in South Park: "Aw, hamburgers".
  • Western Animation/Freakazoid: Freakazoid! uses "Aw, nutbunnies!"
  • Thunder Cats: Lion-o and other characters often say "samaphlange" as a curse word.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2003 had them use Shell for everything. Because they're turtles its a pun on the A-word, but interestingly enough its also a portmanteau of the S and H words so it can literally be used for everything.
  • Recess devoted an entire episode to explaining their Unusual Expletive Whomps, which the faculty tried to ban along with other curse-words when they found out the kids were using it as such.
  • Spongebob Squarepants: Both Spongebob and Patrick uses "tartar sauce", "fish paste", and "barnacles!" which occasionally elicits gasps out of other sea creatures.
  • Prep and Landing: The elves use "frostbite".
  • Danny Phantom: Teacher and Vice-Principal Mr. Lancer swears exclusively in titles of classic literature.
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