They were indeed horrible destructive women. I dinna suppose you have such women in your country? Tommy Albright:
Witches? Jeff Douglas:
Oh, we have 'em. We pronounce it differently.
of Parenthetical Swearing
, this is a line of dialogue used for Getting Crap Past the Radar
, or that at least always leads to many raised eyebrows and jokes amongst the online fandom. Basically, Bob calls Alice a "witch." The context and inflection, however, strongly imply that, in a world free of Media Watchdogs
and censors, he would have used a different epithet — one that rhymes with "witch" but starts with a B. Extra-fun if the woman in question really does have magic powers, justifying the word.
And this is not just in English...Spanish-speakers may like to use "bruja" as a polite form of "puta." Yes, this includes "hijo de bruja." Be warned, however, calling a girl a "bruja" could imply that she is more "a woman of ill-repute" whereas calling a girl a "witch" would simply suggest she is "not a very nice lady."
Most prevalent in Western Animation
. See also This Is for Emphasis, Bitch!
, which can be used to set up this trope. It's often used when bowdlerizing
a work for broadcast, when the version seen in videos, movie theaters, or CDs does say "bitch."
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Anime And Manga
- Ubiquitous in Marvel Comics of the 1970s through the early 1990s.
- One issue of the print comic Nodwick had a scene where the Stupid Good cleric Piffany calls an evil cleric a "word-that-rhymes-with-ditch-but-starts-with-B" before engaging her in battle. While the word "witch" was not itself used, this still seems to be the same principle, made Badbutt. This is pretty par for the course with Piffany. She's literally so pure that she has trouble finding ways to concisely express her more extreme feelings without tarnishing her incorruptible goodness.
- In one issue of Young Justice, Arrowette refers to the Alpha Bitch and her Girl Posse as "rhymes with witches".
- Ultimate Marvel
- In Ultimate X4 (an X-Men/Fantastic Four crossover), the two teams have just identified the villainess and the Thing says "Let's go put that rhymes-with-witch through some changes."
- Inverted later on, when Iceman calls the Scarlet Witch the 'scarlet B word'.
- We can probably safely guess that Empowered means it when she calls her teammate Sistah Spooky "a literal witch. Boo, hiss."
- The Batman Returns Comicbook Adaptation did this to the line "Life's a bitch. So am I.", rather diluting the impact of the phrase.
- Catwoman: Guardians of Gotham #2 has Batman calling Catwoman this. Yes, despite all the blood and upskirt shots present in the rest of the comic, calling a woman a bitch is apparently drawing the line.
- Issue #31 of The Powerpuff Girls, "Trick Or Beatings" has the girls in Halloween gear laying a smackdown on the Gangreen Gang. Blossom, dressed as a witch, originally had the line "Prepare to be witch-slapped!" before it was changed to a more kid-friendly line.
Film — Animated
Film — Live-Action
- This line from The Wizard of Oz demonstrates the same idea:
Auntie Em: (to Miss Gulch) For twenty-three years, I've been dying to tell you what I thought of you! And now... well, being a Christian woman, I can't say it!
- And this is after Dorothy called Miss Gulch a "wicked old witch" in regards to her desire to take Toto away to be destroyed.
- Ivan Ooze, the Big Bad of Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers: The Movie, refers to Dulcea as "that miserable, manipulating, loathsome she-devil of a witch!"
- In the TV friendly version of Scott Pilgrim vs. The World Ramona says she's "dabbled in being a witch" when in the theatrical version she says "bitch". May be justified, in that the film seems to take place in some sort of video game world. A witch is just another job one could do.
- From Ella Enchanted: The narrator who always speaks in rhymes says "And so she left them, scratching their newly found itches/Glad to be rid of them.... witches."
- In Disney's Hocus Pocus, Winnie does this in a Shout-Out to Elton John during "I Put a Spell on You":
Winnie: Now the witch is back! And there's hell to pay.
- In The Women, Joan Crawford as Crystal Allen: "There is a name for you, ladies, but it isn't used in high society... outside of a kennel."
- In The Goonies, Andi calls Mama Fratelli "you gross old witch." Which is probably more an indicator of Andi's personality than it is censorship, since there's plenty of swearing elsewhere in the movie.
- Inverted in The Craft where Chris refers to Nancy and her friends as "the Bitches of Eastwick", though they actually are witches.
- In Under the Dome the Big Bad Jim Rennie doesn't swear, so when he's irritated with a woman he'll call her, "that rhymes-with-witch!"
- There's one in Agatha Christie's Man In The Brown Suit.
- There is a book called Son of a Witch. And considering who his mom is...
- Disney's Art of Animation: From Mickey Mouse to Beauty and the Beast refers to The Little Mermaid's Ursula as "the sea witch (spelt with a 'b')."
- In the Mage: The Ascension novel Penny Dreadful, this seems to be Penny's favorite way of making the word "witch" from a simple description into an insult.
- Almost averted in the first Darkest Powers book. One of the character almost calls the protagonist a "bitch" but she's talking to her mom so she switches to "witch" part way.
- In The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Aslan enters into a bit of this. Granted, he's talking to The White Witch, but from the way it's phrased... Probably unintentional on the author's part, though. It's worth noting that Jadis insisted on being referred to as a Queen, so Aslan was probably deliberately pushing her Berserk Button as well.
Do not cite the Deep Magic to me
Live Action TV
- Home Improvement: Tim and Jill are discussing Wilson's new friend in front of Brad, and Jill refers to her as a witch. Brad says "Mom, I'm old enough, you can use the B-word." In this case, Jill really did mean "witch" (and not as an insult); the woman was a practicing Wiccan.
- In Will and Grace, during one of Karen and Jack's fights, Jack stage-whispers "Rhymes with witch."
- In an episode of Ugly Betty, Betty and Hilda have a big blowout on Thanksgiving over a lawer. Later Justin tries to sneak some stuffing while Hilda's back is turned.
Hilda: [back still turned] Put it back!
Justin: [to Santos] How does she do that?
Santos: She's a bit of a witch.
Betty: Give or take a letter...
- Also this trope was mentioned by name (in reference to Wilhelmina) during the series recap at the beginning of season three.
- Modern Family: Claire is planning a haunted house for Halloween, and Gloria is going as a bruja (Spanish for witch). Jay warns her to not be late or Claire will turn into a "rhymes with bruja".
- Little House on the Prairie has Laura suspecting that her husband has been seeing another woman. In confronting the supposed other woman, Laura says "you witch" right before pouncing on her and engaging in a physical fight. To Laura's embarrassment it turns out that the woman is innocent. What Laura mistook for a love note was only lyrics to a song the woman had written.
- USA High the kids overhear an argument between two teachers and Ashley is horrified that the husband calls his wife a witch.
- The argument was them rehearsing for the wife's play so either they were censoring themselves since they were in a school or the play's author wasn't a fan of cursing.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer: In the season 1 episode "The Witch", Amy mentions that before he left, her father would get in fights with her mother, calling her a witch. Amy thought that this was Parenthetical Swearing, but realized later on that it was exactly what he meant.
- In Alphas, Gary's autism lends people to trying to censor their swearing around him, which leads to this line:
Gary: That witch took my phone!
Dr. Rosen: What witch?
Gary: The witch. That's the word my mom uses when she's angry. She uses another word, too.
- Half-amusingly, Bill absently calls the woman a bitch immediately after Gary's done with his tirade.
- In the Grimm episode "Season of the Hexenbiest", Nick tells Adalind that she doesn't have to be a Hexenbiest to be a witch.
- Dexter's Vince Masuka pulls this one regarding lieutenant Pascal's approaching him over a "woman's smell" on a shirt, a forensic impossibility that she thinks would prove her fiancé was cheating on her.
Oh no, it's that crazy witch.
- A meta example: the premiere episode of American Horror Story: Coven is called "Bitchcraft". And oh, do the main characters live up to it.
- Brought up when Mystery Science Theater 3000 screened Touch of Satan. One of the young protagonists makes small talk at a store by mentioning her reputation in town thusly.
Melissa: They say in this town that I'm a witch.
Crow T. Robot: It only RHYMES with witch!
- Pops up in the Sabrina the Teenage Witch Friday the 13th episode. When Sabrina is confessing that she's a witchnote , Valerie assumes she's invoking this trope. She says "I know you can be a little cranky sometimes but..."
- In Scrubs when Carla is forced to tell a patient he can't go to a family gathering, he immediately calls her a "mean old witch". He's surrounded by children at the time so who knows what he really meant?
- Done in spirit, if not in letter, on The Vicar of Dibley. Hugo and Geraldine discuss Hugo's father's reaction to the news that he is dating Alice:
Well, I can't actually tell you what he said, because... because you're the vicar. But, well, let's say a certain word is represented by another word that sounds like a little like that word, like, um, like "duck," for instance. (beat)
He asked me what the duck I was playing at, said he didn't give a flying duck if I ducking loved Alice ducking Tinker, and if I ducking kissed her again, he'd make sure I was well and truly ducked. Geraldine:
Well, duck me!
- Reversed/parodied on Community - Shirley, as head of the sailing class crew, angrily criticizes Pierce's ineptitude. He replies "Well, it's clear what the 'C' in 'Captain' stands for!...[everyone gasps]...'Crabapple!'"
- Cole Porter's song "Mr. and Mrs. Fitch" was published in the transparently Bowdlerised version shown below; the original version, in the musical Gay Divorce had a different word rhyming with "Fitch," which the drummer had to play over:
Now men who once knew Missus Fitch
Refer to her as a witch,
While the girls who once loved Mister Fitch
Say he always was a son of the rich.
- OutKast sing this in the Bowdlerised version of "Roses":
Caroline... see, she's the reason for the word "witch".
- The Capitol Steps song "Chung Girl" is based on an incident reported by Connie Chung of Newt Gingrich's mother whispering to her, in reference to Hillary Clinton: "She's a bitch." The song ends with Mrs. Gingrich telling Connie another thing:
People say you are a certain word
It's that one you've overheard
It rhymes with Maury Po-VICH!
- Kelly Kelly called Vickie Guerrero a "greedy, power hungry witch". If only she'd been allowed to cut that promo a few months later when CM Punk blurred the lines of what could be said on PG television.
- Complete with Visual Pun, Zack Ryder showed up dressed as a witch for Halloween around Eve Torres (read: the Manipulative Bitch who kicked him in the balls on live TV). This exchange between Eve and Teddy Long followed:
Eve: So you really think I'm a witch?
Teddy: You're just one letter off.
- In GLOW Ashley Cartier invokes this in her rap verse.
"I may be prissy and very rich/But get me mad and you'll see a witch"
- Early on in the McMahon-Helmsley Era, Jim Ross gets called out by Stephanie McMahon for insulting her.
"She's acting like something that sounds like witch and starts with a B."
Role Playing Games
- Les Misérables: "Look Down".
Prostitute: Listen you old bat/Crazy bloody witch/Least I give me customers some pleasure in return.
- Brigadoon, as mentioned. In some productions, Jeff says "We just spell the word differently."
- In Louisiana Purchase, the "don't sue us" Opening Chorus includes the lines:
If you're sons of millionaires,
Don't start trembling in your breeches
When a character declares
That you're dirty sons-of-riches.
- Anna Russell, in her synopsis of The Ring of the Nibelung, carefully detailed in her English accent that Hagen's "mother was a Gibich." Her other classic Wagner parody, Schreechenrauf, actually includes the line "Gudrune, die Götterdämmerung Gibich". (Wagner, of course, properly accented "Gibich" on the first syllable.)
- In Bayonetta, the achievement awarded for performing your first Torture Attack is "I'm A Bit... I Mean Witch."
- Metal Gear Solid, of all games. Johnny Sasaki refers to Meryl as a 'witch' in the second prison scene.
- Bane's Gratuitous Spanish "Bruja"note for Dr. Young in Batman: Arkham Asylum certainly evokes this.
- Roger Wilco in Space Quest IV stammers such a line when he is held captive by the The Latex Babes of Estros.
- In the King's Quest II: Romancing The Throne Fan Remake, Hagatha confronts Graham and Valanice and starts her Evil Gloating. Graham tries to argue with her, but can't quite spit out the insult.
Graham: Why you... you...
Valanice: (mordantly) I'm sure it would have rhymed...
- In Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days, Demyx says "Man, why's Larxene gotta be such a witch?"
- Dragon Age: Origins averts this, because the witches are scary enough that accusing someone of being a witch is worse than calling them a bitch. Also its M rated so they can and do say "bitch" in it.
- The cutscene that plays when Dawn of War II is opened contains a Space Marine growling "This planet is ours, witch!" after mortally wounding an Eldar Farseer (often referred to as "witches/wyches"). Of course, not only is the Farseer actually a witch. In 40k, being a "witch" is incomprehensibly much worse than being a bitch. It even goes above "HERETIC!".
- Justified in Final Fantasy VI when Locke is initially asked to go and rescue Terra. His response is "This better not have anything to do with that Magitek-riding, Imperial witch!!!" One could say that since Terra was a magic-user, he could actually mean a witch in the literal sense except for the fact that he expresses so much shock not long afterwards when Terra, Locke, and Edgar are in a battle and Edgar has to literally it spell out to Locke that Terra had just used magic.
- Mabinogi: One of Lezzaro's random speech bubbles contains this,
Lezzaro: Eluned... that witch. She must be spreading weird rumors again.
- Punned* in Neverwinter Nights 2 when Qara calls Neeshka "tail-for-brains" in a cutscene.
Neeshka: Okay, explain that one to me.
Khelgar Ironfist: Well, she said your brains are next to your tail... which would imply that your brains are in your rear end. And that means you breathe through your—
Neeshka: Okay, okay, I get it, all right? Little witch.
- Tarantulas occasionally refers to Femme Fatale Blackarachnia as 'witch' on Beast Wars. And no, this show does not use magic...
- Danny Phantom: Sam, while possessed by an Artifact of Doom and beginning to turn into a dragon, calls Rich Bitch Paulina a shallow little witch.
- This memorable exchange on Teen Titans:
- The line refers to the comics, where Terra's Jerk Ass Deadpan Snarker comicbook version would refer to her 'friends' with horrible nicknames. "Witch" being a favorite for Raven, given her powers and habits. note
- Any time Scrooge McDuck calls Magica de Spell "You witch!" or "That witch!" on DuckTales. Lampshaded in this fan fic.
- My Life as a Teenage Robot: Jenny is choking on Vexus' exhaust. She manages to get out "What a... witch!"
- Lampshaded on The Simpsons. After Marge is revealed to be an actual witch in a Treehouse of Horror short, Bart exclaims, 'Well, I'll be a son of a witch!'
- Galaxy Rangers: Used a couple times against the sorceress-queen (who more than earned it), and Supertrooper renegade Darkstar (who really hasn't). Killbane's really fond of the insult.
- Winx Club: When the heroes say witch they usually mean witch, but when the Trix witches themselves say it it sounds like they wish they were anywhere but a fluffy magical girl show.
Stormy: Being in this room gives me potions class nightmares!
Darcy: Well, get over it, witch.
- The 4Kids dub sometimes had the Trix pronounce "witch" as wi-atch when their emotions were particularly strong.
- The Fairly OddParents episode where they traveled to the Old West and met Vicky's ancestor:
Cosmo: Even in the Old West, she's a heartless evil witch!
- In the wake of frying the mole Aqualad's brain the villains started calling Miss Martian a witch in Young Justice.
- Copperhead calls Cheetah a witch in Justice League after she slashed him for getting a little too close to her.
- In one episode of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2003, April does an Aliens homage with a giant insect queen, but since it's a kids' cartoon it has to be this:
Get away from him, you witch!
- The Spanish variant might have been parodied in the Show Within a Show of The Cleveland Show, "Esteban y Las Amores De Esteban," in which Esteban's mother turns out to be a bruja...who calls him "mi hijo..."