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"It is somewhat more offensive in British use than Americans typically realize."
Mary Cresswell on "wanker"

Sometimes a writer will use "international" slang to make a character seem saltier and "regional" or make themselves seem more in touch with a foreign work (frequently American versus British usage of a word). Sometimes, however, an expression is still considered vulgar elsewhere. When words like "bollocks" or "wanker" appear in, say, an American work that is otherwise PG, the words create dissonance in places that are more familiar with them.


This is also used intentionally, to the opposite effect: unfamiliar or foreign swear words may be used where an equivalent local expression would be inappropriate. ("Bloody" is about as strong a curse as "damn", and "bloody hell" is about the same as "goddamn", in the UK. On the other hand, it can also mean absolutely nothing more than a way of emphasizing your point in Australia.)

This works both ways, as there are a lot of words that are offensive in the US, but innocuous elsewhere in the Anglosphere, such as "fag" referring to cigarettes in Britain, but being a widespread homophobic insult in the US. Conversely, of course, there can be some culture shock when an American watches a British show made for a post-watershed time slot and sees/hears content that simply wouldn't make the cut for US broadcast TV.


This trope covers any confusion or hilarity arising from foreign swear words, not just in the US. Since international expletives are often "G-rated" on American TV, "arse" and "shite" can be family-friendly ways of getting "ass" and "shit" past the radar. In Britain, "ass" is the American spelling of "arse" note  - one may write "ass" to emphasize that the speaker is American rather than English. Gestures may be similarly misunderstood, such as the two-finger V-sign to signal "victory" or in the U.S. the hippy sign "peace", which is an insult in Greece and, if the hand is turned around, the equivalent to (or worse than) giving the finger in some countries such as the U.K.

See also Separated by a Common Language, Bilingual Bonus, Have a Gay Old Time, and Values Dissonance. Can result in Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe.


Not to be confused with AB Negative, Overdrawn at the Blood Bank, A Bloody Mess, or any of a number of tropes that are literally about blood. If you were looking for cases where it's obvious someone didn't do research that is unrelated to swear words, you're looking for Critical Research Failure.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • In the first episode of Season 3's edited English dub of Dragon Ball Z, the apparently Australian Jeice gives us such lines as, "ah bugger, this blasted thing!" and, "no bloody Saiyan that we've ever met is that strong."
  • In Eden of the East, at least one American uses "Johnny" as a euphemism for a man's special organ (it's also used by a Japanese person in The Tatami Galaxy, so it's apparently not a made-up euphemism). Americans have… numerous common ways to say "penis", but "Johnny" isn't one of them (although "Johnson" is, and "Johnny" is somewhat outdated British English slang for "condom" but still not a word for a penis itself).
  • For a different culture's take, see the Cluster F-Bomb from Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi.
  • The English dub of Negima!? has two British (specifically Welsh) characters at or younger than ten years old say 'bollocks' on more than one occasion, once in front of a British adult who just giggled. The rest of the language in the show is pretty tame, however.
  • PandoraHearts has a character known as the Chizome no Kuro Usagi, literally "Black Rabbit of Blood-dye" (with an in-universe nickname of "B-Rabbit"). Fan translations often change this to "Bloodstained Black Rabbit," as "dye" and "stain" are roughly synonymous, and English speakers typically don't say something soaked in blood is "blood-dyed." However, when official versions of the manga were released in English, Yen Press translated the name to the objectively less correct and more unfortunately connotative "Bloody Black Rabbit."
  • Pokémon:
    • From the mouth of James in Pokémon: "That's why she doesn't know a bloody thing about us, there's no Sinnoh Team Rocket branch!"
    • In a non-Anglophonic variant, the Japanese Lt. Surge (who is supposed to be American) exclaims in an early episode, "God damn!" He also does this in the manga Pokémon Zensho. In the Napoleonic Wars, one of the French slang terms for the British was "Les Goddamns", because of how often they said it. On the other hand, randomly cussing for no reason at all is a common Japanese stereotype of Americans, though almost exclusively played for laughs.
    • In episode 115 of Sun and Moon, there is a rap sequence. In the Japanese version of the rap, a Team Skull grunt says (in English) "Let's get high". This is an unusual sentence that likely wasn't meant to allude to drugs. Ths English dub changed it to "Hey, hi, ho" (which rhymes with the next line "Yay, Guzma, yo!").
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!:
    • In the dub of Yu-Gi-Oh! by 4Kids Entertainment (of all parties) , Sid says, "git", which, to Britons, is a very mild expletive but still not one you'd expect to hear on a kids' show.
    • In Yu-Gi-Oh! GX, Jim refers to the Pachycephalo as "Pachy", which sounds a little too much like a racist term for Pakistani people.

    Comic Books 
  • Whoever decided that "wank" would be a good onomatopoeia for Captain America's shield hitting a villain in the face was clearly unaware of the word's meaning in British/Australian/New Zealand slang. Or was 100% aware of it and having a laugh. It's even better. Because of the placement of the speech bubble, it looks like "I command you to—WANK!"
  • In an early issue of Marvel Comics' Conan the Barbarian series, British artist Barry Smith convinced American writer Roy Thomas to have a soldier call another soldier a "wank." After the issue's publication, Thomas shortly ended up with more informative letters from British readers than he'd have liked.
  • In an issue of Generation X, Chamber (whose British-ness is often emphasized) uses the word "wanker" as if it was a rather harmless insult.
  • Likewise, in the eighth issue of Luke Cage: Hero for Hire, a Jewish woman fondly uses the word "schvartze" to refer to Luke. However, that's basically the Yiddish equivalent of the N-word. They apologized in a later issue. The writer, Steve Englehart, was tricked into using it by the artist, George Tuska, who told him that it was a neutral term.
  • Lampshaded in one The Simpsons comic, Bart and Lisa end up staying with pseudo-South American freedom fighters. When Bart utters his Catchphrase "Ay Caramba!", he is immediately beaten down by a woman for using dirty language in front of her child.
  • In an issue of Y: The Last Man, a captured woman calls the leader of the Amazon gang/army a cunt. The Ax-Crazy leader lampshades this by going into a detailed description of the word and how it's not an insult in Britain. The captive responds by spitting on her and getting shot for her troubles. To clarify, it certainly is an insult in Britain, just (in certain circumstances), somewhat more acceptable than in America. Like most expletives, it largely depends on how you're using it.
  • The Harley Quinn miniseries spin-off Harley's Little Black Book features a British costumed villain called the Barmy Bugger. This is yet another example of how US writers aren't aware of how offensive and insulting the word "bugger" actually is in British English — it's not something that even a villain would voluntarily call themselves. Though he is barmy.

    Fan Fic 
  • In Calvin and Hobbes: The Series, a guy on his Bluetooth rants about "bloody conspiracies", which is somewhat out of place in a normally clean fic.
  • The Final Fantasy VIII fic Phantom Dreams has Seifer refer to Squall as a little bugger, which given the Slash Fic nature of the story is foreshadowing.
  • Really, this is fairly common in most fanfiction written for something that originated in a country different than the one the author is from. The most prevalent example is probably American authors writing Harry Potter fanfic. Seriously, next time you see a long fic by a non-Brit, count how many times 'wanker' is said. It especially happens to Ron a lot, because he is implied to be swearing sometimes in canon, it's just never outright stated what he said.
    • In the other direction, "git" is often taken to be far worse than it actually is. It's actually a very mild insult, barely even considered swearing at all (which is precisely why it's one of the few things to get through the Narrative Profanity Filter in the original books).
    • The word "berk", possibly because of its etymology, is often mistaken for far worse than it actually is. In reality, it doesn't even register as a swearword to most people, and calling someone a berk is less offensive than calling them an idiot.
    • This happens a lot in Sherlock fanfic too.
    • Since there's a lot of regional variation in British English, it's not uncommon to see dialogue that covers hundreds of miles in the space of a single sentence.
  • The reverse is also true, but in the case of the author not caring to look up equivalent terms to the ones they're using, for European/Canadian writers writing for American characters. For instance, if a character's in high school, they could end up saying "lessons" instead of "periods." In American English, "lessons" isn't used for normal classes in school, only when you're being taught a skill like how to play an instrument (as in "piano lessons"), rather than simply being told facts in a regular class, or spellings being different, like "-ise" endings instead of "-ize" or an extra "o" or "u" in some words that aren't in the American spellings and the author didn't know or care to change the spellings. The second one's less egregious, but it still crops up.
  • In This World and the Next: a reviewer pointed out that "it might as well be called In This Shit and the Fuck", and yet in the very same sentence as he is called "Ronald Fucking Weasley", (literal) Ron the Death Eater is referred to as a "prat." The same reviewer asked if "this author's version of the final battle featured Harry calling Voldemort a pillock and describing his philosophy as bobbins." This is especially bizarre since the author is British.
  • While all the swearing recognizable to American readers of Light and Dark The Adventures of Dark Yagami (a So Bad, It's Good Death Note fanfic) is censored out, British ones are not, leading to Watari yelling things like "THAT TIT IS TAKING THE PISS NOW!... WE MUST GET THE WANK OUT OF THIS SODDING CONTRACEPTION!" fully uncensored.
    • Same goes for ITS MY LIFE!, to the point that overused British curses were associated with this fic's Wheatley.
  • Deliberately evoked in A Storm of Chaos: A Doctor Whooves Adventure, The Doctor has something of a potty mouth, saying such things as "bollocks" and "bugger," due to being companions with Derpy, who's from a different region (and her slang is roughly American equivalent). Turns out, she did do the bloody research and can even tell when he curses in alien. He still does it, though.
  • Supper Smash Bros: Mishonh From God takes this Up to Eleven: Literally every British character uses 'bloody', 'hell' and 'wanker' in almost every sentence. Eventually, Sara does try doing the watching Game of Thrones.
  • In the Discworld of A.A. Pessimal, the first Rimwards Howondalandian character was introduced with the then intention that she would be a one-shot character who would take all the National Stereotypes everybody thought they knew about South Africa and white South Africans Up to Eleven. Consequently, the character's use of the Afrikaans language was, to be kind, sketchy, and unconvincing: Pessimal crossed his fingers and hoped nobody would notice if her native tongue turned out to be a mish-mash of Dutch, German, and half-remembered badly spelled Saffie expletives. When he realized he wasn't going to be allowed to drop the character, her Afrikaans - and his - got progressively better and he began doing the bloody research more thoroughly.
  • In Essence, Bill uses "bloody" a lot, which makes him come off as Sir Swears-a-Lot.
  • Stargate Atlantis fics featuring Zelenka (whose actor David Nykl is well-known for getting away with routine Czech swearwords in the series) may end up with wildly incongruous levels of Czech swearing - running the gamut from expressions that are comically much milder than what Zelenka does actually use, to downright obscene expressions that David Nykl would probably never dare to use in public...

    Film — Animation 
  • Lizzie in Cars refers to her husband as a 'persistent little bugger'. Perhaps she had shag carpeting in the boot (Boot UK = trunk US).
  • Robots has a character with a large rear end named Aunt Fanny. In the US, it's just an allusion to her large butt. In the UK, it means... something else. So she was renamed, Aunt Fan.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • In The Avengers (2012), Loki calls Black Widow a "mewling quim" at the end of a particularly vicious rant, quim being old English slang for the female genitalia. The film is rated PG-13. The word is pretty archaic, and even those who know what it means would find it more a novelty than actually offensive.
  • Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me had some trouble being marketed in the UK entirely because of this. The posters either partially censored the middle of the offending word or displayed the title of Austin Powers 2. They also had to run different sets of ads before the 9 pm Watershed, because they couldn't use the film's full title.
  • The Harry Potter film series, written for the screen by an American, gives Ron a Catchphrase: "Bloody hell!" Not an appropriate catchphrase for an (at first) 11-year-old even by American standards, but much worse in the series' native UK. In the first film, Ron says it to McGonagall's face for her 'bloody brilliant' transformation from a cat when no British teacher would stand for it.
  • The film version of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy has the Highly Evolved Beings a.k.a. mice shout "Oh bollocks!" before being crushed by Arthur Dent. The DVD commentary states that they wanted to sneak in a curse word that wouldn't be as well known to American audiences.
  • In Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, Lara is fond of the word "bugger." She uses it a couple of times, once with something as innocuous as some food blowing up in the microwave (which would be appropriate if she were, say, Australian). The movie is PG-13, but it's mainly because it's an action movie, so there's very little in the way of swearing anyway.
  • The story goes that Steve McQueen didn't know the meaning of the reverse V-sign while making Le Mans and, when told, used the gesture instead of The Finger at the end of the movie as a way of giving his character a European flair, as a globe-trotting racing driver would probably have picked up all kinds of foreign insults on his travels.
  • Muppet Treasure Island is otherwise free of profanity, though when Billy Bones is dying, Gonzo and Rizzo lampshade the fact that "this was supposed to be a kids' movie!" Shortly after that, when Billy's shipmates search his room, one of them says "Billy's dead, and he hasn't got the bloody map!" Billy himself asks aloud "How does [Mrs. Bluberidge] bloody do that?" Some versions of the film dub over "bloody" with "bloomin'".
  • Jack Sparrow says "bugger" twice in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, despite the film's PG-13 rating and otherwise very sparse use of swear words.
    Bloody pirates!
    • This is also as close to a Cluster F-Bomb as they could get when he says it repeatedly while trying to get his hand free of the manacle Elizabeth locked him in to bait the Kraken at the end of the movie.
  • The American trailer for Playing For Keeps somehow managed to get away with using "wanker" more than once, most notably being said by a child. It's especially strange in that the MPAA's standards for green band trailers tend to often strict (when not being totally contradictory).
  • Rise of the Guardians: Bunny frequently uses Australian colloquialisms. He used the word "bloody" more than once, but the most egregious example is when he thinks Jack's fallen out of the sleigh, only to find Jack smugly perched on the runner. Bunny shouts "Rack off, you bloody showpony!", which in American English translates into "Fuck off, you damn show-off"!
  • It works the other way around, too — the same actor gets in a "Goddamn" in Thunderpants, in an apparently ham-fisted attempt to imitate the speech patterns of the adult Eaglelanders around him.
  • In Tomorrowland, Governor Nix’s very last words are "Oh, bollocks." This was enough to get the film a 12A rating in the U.K. despite the film being rated PG in America.
  • Middle-finger gestures are generally censored in America, but the Trainspotting poster in which Begbie gives a V-sign is shown without any problems.
  • V for Vendetta has loads of American and British curse words, which makes for interesting viewing when it's on channels like FX or BBC America. In the States, they'll bleep the F-bombs, and if they're really uptight, every other curse word, but you can listen to every utterance of "Jesus bloody Christ" and sentences like "I won't have this thing getting any more bollocksed-up than it already is" unedited. Note, too, that several of the major characters are well-known British actors and actresses, like John Hurt, Stephen Fry, etc., and the author of the original graphic novel was Alan Moore, so the cast and crew weren't saying things to try and sound British. A little girl says 'bollocks' in front of her family with no repercussions.
  • The Japanese film Why Don't You Play in Hell? has a group of amateur Japanese filmmakers give themselves the English name "Fuck Bombers." It's obviously not supposed to be as vulgar to Japanese ears as English-speakers.
  • An In-Universe case with the V gesture, which serves as a Running Gag in Darkest Hour: Winston Churchill of all people initially has to have its alternate meaning explained to him. This returns later as a Brick Joke.
  • The Color of Friendship has a South African man use "bloody" within the first ten minutes of the film. It's a bit crude for a children's film.

  • Used in-universe on several occasions by Diana Gabaldon. She does do the linguistic research, but several characters (from different countries or different centuries) manage to cuss each other out and have it go right over the other person's head. (For example, Claire using the word "fucking" and utterly perplexing her husband.) In a more fitting sense for this trope, the author also gets away with a lot of creative language in the Outlander series by way of it being exotic and Scottish, or terribly dated — and then lets loose with the contemporary profanity.
  • Harry Turtledove doesn't do too badly at curse levels but uses things like 'bloody' far too often in a lot of cases (which has to be quite a bit, given how much we use it). Furthermore, some of the slang is simply wrong. 'Crikey' is an exclamation of surprise (synonymous with 'Cripes'), not a swearword that you can chuck in anywhere.
  • Ender's Game: The aliens that humanity is at war with somewhat resemble insects and thus are often called Buggers, which makes an awful lot of the text hard to stomach for British readers... "We can't let the Buggers win!" "I'm going to kill as many of the Buggers as possible!" It would be akin to somebody writing a huge sci-fi epic where we're being invaded by deadly swarms of Dumbasses or surrounded by Assholes. This is lampshaded in Ender's Shadow, where European-native Bean is entertained by the Americans and others calling the aliens expletives. The card seems to have been informed of his mistake after the first novel and all subsequent publications use the term "Formic" or "Hive Queen" to describe the aliens, while the Ender's Game Alive audio play only uses "Buggers" when someone is upset and is actually trying to be insulting. The Formic Wars prequel novels have many other names for the newly-discovered aliens by the Asteroid Miners, who usually consist of clans from various ethnic groups. When a scientist first finds out that the Venezuelan miners aboard the El Salvador named them Hormigas ("ants" in Spanish), she refuses to use the term, claiming that no scientist would approve of a living being named in a still-spoken language, preferring to use the roughly-equivalent Latin term Formic.
  • In The Kane Chronicles, which is G-rated, except for a Narrative Profanity Filter with Carter sometimes, Sadie uses the word "bloody" a lot.
  • In The Legend of Rah and the Muggles, Zyn utters the priceless line "That’s why I’m the leader of this pathetic group. The only thing you little buggers do is ask questions." Seeing as the author marketed the book for children ages six to twelve, she presumably was unaware of what "buggers" actually meant.
  • In the Lois McMaster Bujold novel Memory, Miles Vorkosigan is said to have "buggered the cartridge" from a Sonic Stunner to improvise a grenade. Also, he describes Impsec's security recording as having been "buggered" when he finds evidence of tampering. Nowhere else in Bujold's books do we find this sort of expression. "Buggered" is fairly innocuous US slang for fouled-up or broken (but usually not irreparably). In the UK you can describe something as "buggered" or talk about "buggering [something] up", but in most dialects if you say you've "buggered [something]" you'll get some strange looks. Thus Miles' statement sounds as odd to the British ear as it does to the US ear when a Brit "lights up a fag."
  • Planet of Adventure: Jack Vance innocently-named an alien race the Wankh; the resulting second volume Servants of the Wankh sold quite well in a niche market. For a recent republication, he consented to rename them Wannek, irritating at least a few fans because a race that can express a sentence in the overtones of a single chime ought to be monosyllabic.
  • John Brunner, in his dystopian near-future novel The Sheep Look Up (set in a Twenty Minutes In The Future version of the USA), fell foul of this by having a midwestern DJ (who had been poisoned, alongside thousands of others, by leakage into the water table of a military psychedelic) use the word "bollocks" in what is probably the filthiest limerick ever printed.
  • Star Wars: The Han Solo Adventures series contains a character named Bollux. Unsurprisingly, he was renamed to Zollux for the UK release (as a nod to this, later material, even in the US, would refer to Zollux as an alias he would adopt later). Han specifically asks him at one point if he minds that his name is a rather insulting joke, so it's not really worried about the radar. In some rural parts of the US, "bollocks" is simply used to mean "testicles, usually of an animal", (e.g. in the context of castrating a bull)—it's slightly more objectionable than "buttocks."
  • Some of the Warhammer 40,000 novels in The Space Wolf Omnibus seems to have very little cursing other than this.
  • In a rare example of an English writer not understanding English slang, the Victorian poet Robert Browning got the impression that the word "twat" meant part of a nun's cowl, and included it in his 1841 poem Pippa Passes: "Then, owls and bats, cowls and twats, / Monks and nuns, in a cloister’s moods, Adjourn to the oak-stump pantry!" His mistake was not pointed out until 1888.note 
  • A French children's book author decided to introduce some local sayings to young readers in a book taking place in Canada. Unfortunately, one of those sayings happened to be "tabernacle", which due to traditional views on blasphemy is roughly as obscene in French Canada as "fuck" or "shit."

    Live-Action TV 
  • Spoofed in 30 Rock: After the supposedly British Phoebe accidentally used an American accent when she got upset and Liz called her on it, Phoebe picked up her British accent again and replied: "I don't know what you're on about, you daft wanker."
  • Arrested Development: Michael's British girlfriend refers to him as a pussy and he assumes he's being called a wimp. A voiceover explains that in England this is actually a term of endearment. It's not clear whether the writers were mistaken or simply invented a fact for the sake of the joke.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel lived and breathed this trope through the character of Spike and occasionally Giles:
    • Giles also repeatedly calls people "pillock," which despite being a mild swear word in the UK, stands out compared to the American characters' cleaner language. Especially given Giles' clipped and somewhat posh phrasing most of the time.
    • Even better, he calls Wesley a "berk" at one point, which is a fairly mild insult in the UK (and presumably elsewhere, if it’s used at all), bandied about in a way comparable to calling someone an idiot... provided you don’t know that it is short for "Berkeley Hunt", which is itself rhyming slang...
    • Not to mention Spike used a V-Sign several times, probably the director worked under the assumption that no-one outside of the U.K. would know it's extremely offensive when the back of the hand faces the recipient. It's even in the opening credits from Season Five on.
    • Then there's the hilarious moment in the episode "Tabula Rasa" where Anya accuses Giles of using a lot of British slang that she doesn't understand. When he argues that she couldn't possibly have heard him say any of the words she mentioned (they had lost their memories at this time), she retorts, "Oh, bugger off, you brolly!" which is a slang term for an umbrella. Clearly, Anya overestimates her curses.
    • There's a truly startling moment in Angel where Spike instructs Angel to "wank off," the writer apparently believing this is analogous to "piss off." It really isn't, and the British phrase would be more likely to be "wank yourself off."
    • It's commonly believed that Joss knew what was meant. The creators have joked in the commentaries about how they could use language that would never have made it past the censors if not for the fact that it was British, rather than American, obscenity. Although it may have worked well for American broadcast, it somewhat spoiled the UK transmission of the show, which had to cut the "wankers" and the "bollocks" from pre-watershed airings, thus making dialogue occasionally choppy and nonsensical.
    • Spike tells Xander to "fag off" in a season 4 episode of Buffy. The word "fag" has several meanings, but "fag off" means nothing on either side of the pond.
    • Spike is just wonderful for this. He at one point dismisses another character as a "bloody poof." In the UK, the word is only slightly more acceptable than "faggot" and was probably not intended to be so harsh.
  • In Corner Gas, when Davis feels the need to use British English words ('football') over their Canadian English counterparts ('soccer').
    Davis: Thanks for donating the footballs.
    Lacey: Well, it's the least I could do for our soccer team; give them some soccer balls, to play soccer with.
    Davis: The proper term is 'football'. It's good for the kids to hear some of the British terminologies.
    Lacey: So what's the British term for a person who uses stupid British terms?
    Davis: A wanker.
    • Given the entirely-innocent grin on Davis' face, he likely didn't realize how offensive the word was. Which was probably part of the joke.
  • Dinner: Impossible chef Robert Irvine frequently throws out stuff like "bollocks," "bugger," "bloody," and "tosser" and Food Network never bleeps any of it. It's only when he uses profanity that's unsuitable for US TV that they bleep him.
  • In one episode of Friends, Chandler calls a character a "wank", to which many British viewers react with surprise or disbelief. Correct usage would be "wanker", or possibly a compound such as "wankshaft" (dick) or "wankstain" (guess). A one-shot character in a later episode parodies this trope, being an American who adopted ridiculously fake British mannerisms after staying there for a few months, saying things like "Oh bugger, should I not have said that? I feel like a perfect arse!"
  • Glee faced a backlash from UK viewers when the term "spaz" was used casually in the episode "Hairography" (to describe the energetic dancing) because it seemed neither country knew that the word is seen differently. They seemed to have done the research, though, as in a later episode a scene where one character calls another "retarded" is edited out. Which then got backlash because the response to that (as the character was a Downs baby) was a major point for episodes, and without the scene, the UK audience didn't know what was happening.
  • For unknown reasons, the German dub of How I Met Your Mother often leaves the English word "Bimbo" as untranslated Gratuitous English. The problem is that Bimbo is already a German word and it is a rather offensive synonym for the N-word.
  • In an episode of iCarly, a one-shot British character calls the main characters hob-knockers at least five times. Only one of them knows "what it really means", however, and they don't say it out loud to the viewers. In this case, Brits would be equally mystified: the insult appears to be either made up or an archaic dialect word.
  • On an episode of Judge Judy (which is available on her DVD "Justice Served"), a man is suing a woman he had a one-night-stand with for allegedly stealing his checkbook the morning after. The judge at one point says his bank account was "all bollocksed up," which passed uncensored. Presumably, JJ was not aware of the potential vulgarity, and neither was American S&P censors.note 
  • In Leverage, which is otherwise almost entirely devoid of profanity, Sophie Devereaux is introduced in a flashback where Nate shoots her (after she shot him when he caught her peeling priceless paintings out of their frames) and she snarls, "You wanker!"
  • Exploited in Miami Vice. In the '80s, before the internet had opened up the world, most Americans had no idea what a wanker was, as demonstrated by the Mork & Mindy script-writer below, Phil Collins, being English most certainly did know, and knew the Americans didn't; thus, as Villain of the Week he was able to get away with turning to Crocket and Tubbs and saying "Do I look like some sort of wanker?" which would be a perfectly reasonable phrase for his (English) character to use.
  • When Mork & Mindy first arrived in the UK, it was seen as a gentle inoffensive comedy about an alien arriving in the US, and it was scheduled for Sunday late afternoon viewing, just before or after the religious God-Slot. This happy state persisted even after Mindy's landlord became a semi-regular on the show. Older people catching the show as a prelude to the saintly Jess Yates presenting his blend of hymns and homilies were consternated by frequent references to Mr. Wanker, a name spoken with unseemly emphasis by Robin Williamsnote  Hilarity Ensued.
  • It's a little jarring, considering the superficially clean nature of MST3K humour, to hear them burst out with the occasional stronger-in-Britain profanity. They use the terms correctly, it's just an unexpected comedy bonus as there's virtually no US profanity in the series, as any such would be edited out for US audiences (and the resulting gaps remarked upon).
    • Neil Connery inviting someone to 'kiss my white Scottish arse.'
    • Receptionist at 'Nirvana Village' dappling centre: "Your kind has to take what you can get." "And what's that?" "Bollocks!"
  • Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, a spinoff of an American show made in Canada, featuring mostly British actors, seems to have Alice and/or the Knave of Hearts say the phrase "bloody hell" in nearly every episode, as well as other occasional phrases like "sod off." This is a family show, right?
  • The English Sarah and Felix from Orphan Black are, fair enough, the most likely characters to swear like sailors anyway, but really. Besides which, "Get your fanny out of there?" No. That's not a thing.
  • QI plays the trope for laughs when Canadian actress Katherine Ryan explains that, in Canada, the phrase "shagging the dog" means you are doing nothing or just idling away. In the UK, "shagging the dog" would mean something quite different:
    Stephen Fry: Not in this country, madam! In this country, when we shag a dog we know what we're doing, and it's pretty hard work, let me tell you!
  • Irish actor Colm Meaney got away with saying "bollocks" in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Time's Orphan." The BBC airing was edited accordingly.
  • Ewan McGregor was a guest on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno a few years back, and the conversation turned to the V-sign. McGregor was asked to explain the history of it (the false folk etymology based on the English longbowmen at Agincourt), and while doing so he demonstrated it to the entire audience. The audience cheered madly, and McGregor started laughing about how he had just flipped off both live and viewing audiences and was being applauded for doing so. He actually looked rather embarrassed by it.
  • In Weird Science, Lisa once used 'wank' to mean any pointless pastime. "Then you can wank to your heart's content. Wank, wank, wank."
  • In one episode of That Mitchell and Webb Look, the Party Hosts discuss inviting the Scooby gang and conclude that Shaggy's nickname is some kind of "hollow sexual boast" because he looks like a heroin addict. In American English, the word simply means "scruffy," while "shag" in British English is a synonym for "fuck".
  • Jackie Stallone, mother of Sylvester and Frank, appeared on an iteration of Graham Norton's show. She was peddling "psychic" goods and services at the time and told Graham that one of the things she did was read your fortune with a fanny print. She clearly had no idea what it meant in Britain, but based on the pandemonium from the audience, they clearly did.

  • Frank Zappa wrote a song called "Poofter's Froth Wyoming Plans Ahead", which appears on his live album Bongo Fury, sung by Captain Beefheart. He was unaware of the meaning of "Poofter" and just thought it was a funny British word. When a British journalist told him what it actually means (a less offensive version of faggot), he was shocked. Unsurprisingly, this song is hilarious to British listeners in a way that was never intended.
  • The Monkees were told their song "Randy Scouse Git" was not acceptable in the UK because of its titlenote , and would have to be released with an alternate title. So, they called it "Alternate Title."
  • "Weird Al" Yankovic caused a minor controversy over the word "spastic" being used in "Word Crimes". He apologized on Twitter, saying he didn't know that it was an offensive slur.

  • On LoveLine, Adam Carolla once pondered if it was okay to say "shite" on the radio at 10 PM Pacific (it is, or at least it was when he said it).

    Tabletop Games 
  • Having researched Victorian Thieves' Cant enough to create a glossary but not enough to know which words were still in use, the Dungeons & Dragons setting Planescape also included "berk" on its list of slang. To make matters worse, most of the books were written in-universe style, slathering virtually every character's speech with cant, and that was the writers' single favorite word. Most Brits don't know what berk derives from, so it does sometimes get used casually in the UK as well, but it is still a reasonably strong term (equivalent to "moron") even if you don't know its history. note 
    • Though the few still-in-use terms included in the Cant were jarring enough (Bloody and Sodding being the most jarring) the use of the word Pike for "move on" was ill-advised since the only derivation still in use is "Pikey", which is rather racist.
      • Strangely enough, "pike" is still in use in Australia and New Zealand (where it isn't offensive at all and means "to cancel at the last minute on a social engagement"), along with "piker" (one who is notorious for doing so). "Pikey" is however completely unknown (or at least it was, until Snatch.).
  • Pokémon: Shining Legends Incineroar has a move called "Goddamn Punch" in the Japanese version. In Japan, it doesn't raise flags as much as it does elsewhere. The move was changed to "Profane Punch" for the English version.

    TV Tropes 
  • The term Fan Wank: There's usually discord between it and the tone of the environment in which it's being used. This gets even more discordant when someone describes a claim as being Wankable. And of course, if you know what it means you could take it as a compliment (it's used as one in porn reviews).
    • That apparently metaphorical meaning of 'wank' seems to have overtaken the literal British meaning on the Internet. Apparently alternate history's full of wankers.
    • However, the term Fan Wank often has a more literal meaning when used by Brits. In the Doctor Who fandom, for instance, Fan Wank is used to mean "Continuity references put in the script to get the fans off", as if the writers were tossing the fanbase off. This is closer in spirit to Script Wank, which is as if the writers are tossing themselves off.

    Video Games 
  • The Korean-developed Alliance of Valiant Arms has one of the EU side's taunts vocalized as "Go ahead, shoot some more, you bloody tossers!" One can suppose it was the British voice actor ad-libbing a bit, as the other English taunts use somewhat more benign words like "rascals" and "cowards."
  • The Banjo-Kazooie games contain a lot of racy Britishisms that slipped past ESRB censors and got an E rating. Note that given Rare's sense of humor this was almost certainly on purpose.
  • Rareware inverted this trope with its next game Donkey Kong 64, using the line "One hell of a guy" in the infamous D.K. Rap.
  • Chrono Trigger:
    • Chrono Trigger features enemies called Buggers (possibly a Shout-Out by the translators to the Ender's Game example, but as they are robotic and accompanied by enemies called "Debuggers", it is likely to be a coding reference and unintentionally funny). The Nintendo DS release had a new translation that changed the enemies' names to Verminator and Deverminator respectively since that release was the first time the game made it across the Atlantic. The new names seem to imply that they're rogue pest control robots.
    • Non-offensive example — the band of carpenters is referred to as "blokes" by their boss. Obviously, the translator has heard that "blokes" = "guys" - however, when an English-speaking player sees "Come on, you blokes!" it stands out as if he had instead greeted a group of women with "Come on, you females!" In Australia the terms are interchangeable, but the character's supposed to be British, and British people don't use "blokes" that way. "Mate", "pal", or "chum" would make more sense in context.
    • Early on in the game, one particularly disgruntled character will tell you to "take your bloody time!"
  • The manual for Crash Team Racing offers advice for avoiding missile attacks by saying that, if the player is, 'being tailed by one of these buggers,' it's a good idea to drop something behind you.
  • Deus Ex: Human Revolution's Missing Link DLC, being made outside the UK, shows the development team isn't too experienced with the lingo; an Irish character comments on a weapon being "the bollocks", which, most likely to the confusion of whoever wrote the subtitle script, has compromised with "bullocks." The proper expression is "the dog's bollocks", meaning "really good" (simply calling something "bollocks" means it's bad).
  • Reverse example: in the DS version of Dragon Quest V, Prince Harry tells the main character, before his wedding to not "cock it up." Cue the player making innuendos about the wedding night. Although considering Prince Harry's choice of souvenir for his own wedding (he has musical instruments made so he can gleefully present the player with his very own *cough cough* "marital organ"), this one might be intentional.
  • Winters (part of Foggyland, the game's equivalent of Europe) is the equivalent of the UK (especially England, but there's also a Loch Ness counterpart) in the EarthBound verse, but Dr. Andonuts uses the word "fag" as an insult rather than to refer to a cigarette in The Halloween Hack.
  • British players of Escape from Monkey Island have been rather taken aback upon hearing the usually family-friendly Guybrush Threepwood describe a group of termites as "little buggers."
  • Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy features a fisherman with a stereotypical pseudo-Bristolian seafarers' accent. He describes unwanted fish as "buggers." The game got off with a 3+ ("general") rating.
  • Jazz Jackrabbit 2 fell into this trope in Britain, due to Jazz's brother being called Spaz. "Spazzy" in American English simply means "zany" or "crazy", which definitely describes him, but anywhere else it would be like naming him "Retard."
  • The Panau soldiers in Just Cause 2 sometimes blurt "Now you're gonna die, cibai!" That last word is common slang in Malaysia and Singapore (which Panau is based on), and the equivalent to "cunt" in English. For comparison the harshest English words used in 2 are "bitch", "ass" and "whore"; while "shit" and "fuck" are not present until the third game.
  • Kabam's Kingdoms of Camelot on Facebook has sound effects for various actions and screens within the game. Some are just sounds and some are spoken words supposedly by your troops or whoever. When you're attacked and you click on the report, if it's one where you lost, you can clearly hear someone saying "bugger off" in the string of words and sounds, intended to convey depressed and disappointed troops, that accompany it.
  • The original box art for Left 4 Dead 2 showed the back of a hand with the middle and index fingers raised, a fairly innocuous gesture in the States, but not so much elsewhere, requiring a change to be made for overseas boxes. Can be seen side-by-side here.
  • Super Mario Bros.:
    • Mario Kart 8 Deluxe had to patch out the Inkling Girl making the Bicep-Polishing Gesture.
    • In Luigi's Mansion, Professor E. Gadd refers to a ghost as "the little bugger." In the UK, at least, this seems unusually strong language for a kid's game.
    • Mario Party 7 did this in the intro to Grand Canal. Toadsworth said the word "bugger", which can lead to a big faulty disaster in PAL regions...
    • Mario Party 8 was worse since Kamek dropped the word 'spastic' - which happens to be an extremely vulgar way of insulting someone with cerebral palsy, more offensive than 'retard'. The game had to be recalled when people found out!
    • The GBA game Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga features a race of snails named 'winkles'. Nothing wrong with that in America - 'winkle' is simply a shortened form of 'periwinkle', which is a snail. But in the southern UK, 'winkle' is also an old-fashioned childish word for a male organ. And this is a game primarily aimed at kids.
    • Super Mario RPG has Croco refer to Mario as a "persistent bugger" at one point, although it helps that it wasn't released in Europe until the Virtual Console (which changed "bugger" to "pest", anyway).
    • In Super Paper Mario, Dimentio, trying to provoke Luigi into fighting him, refers to his mustache as a "shag," to which Luigi takes offense at. Shag in America means unkempt. In British English, however, it's slang for a sexual encounter (it can also serve as the verb for the act), so they altered the line to simply calling Luigi a pushover.
  • Rocket Racoon in Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 gets away with calling people 'wankers' just by having a British accent.
  • Metal Gear Solid 3: a (perhaps) unintentional one: Shagohod. Makes perfect sense if you understand the Russian name. If you don't, you might only pick up on the first few letters... If you do, don't go to Russia. "Shag" by itself means "step", so you'll be exhausted by giggling every time it's used in about an hour and a half.
  • The Australian versions of the New Play Control Pikmin games change the name of the Wollywog, Yellow Wollywog, and Wogpole to Wollyhop, Yellow Wollyhop, and Wolpole, respectively. ("Wog" is a slur for Mediterranean people, and the word "wollywog" is evocative of "Gollywog", which is an offensive caricature of black people.)
  • An interesting version that's actually not with American and British English but Japanese and American English happens in the little known PSP game Po Po Lo Crois. A monster fought very early in the game is called "Pecker." Well yeah, it is a bird after all, except guess what "Pecker" means in English? It's a slang word for a penis. It's unknown whether the game is rated "T" in North America for this reason or because there are some rather violent scenes.
  • In Pokémon Diamond and Pearl, a Team Galactic grunt in Pastoria City calls the player character a "little bugger." Of course, the line was rewritten for the European/Australian release.
  • Portal 2 features Wheatley, a personality core with a pronounced British accent and vocabulary to match. Later in the game, when things stop going his way, he begins swearing a lot, using the word "bloody." It's not considered a swear word in the US, so it received an E10 there.
    Wheatley: Oh you HAD to play bloody cat and mouse, didn't you?! WELL NOW WE'RE ALL GONNA PAY THE PRICE, BECAUSE WE'RE ALL GOING TO BLOODY DIE!
  • Ratchet & Clank:
    • Subverted. The American subtitle of the third game is Up Your Arsenal; for some reason, they decided to drop the subtitle for the European release. It's almost certain they knew what they were doing given the subtitles of the other games, such as Going Commando (which also didn't make it across the Atlantic without a rename), and Quest for Booty (which did).
    • And the previous game got away with a character saying 'arse'. However, the third game is careful to avoid the trope. A character uses the word 'bollocks', but it's censored.
  • Recettear:
    • Charme, The Lady Thief, repeatedly introduces herself as a "professional Berk." One wonders whether Carpe Fulgar knew exactly where that quaint colloquialism came from. note 
    • Even stranger, Tear often says "merde" (shit) when in the Japanese VO she says "mattaku" (something along the lines of an exasperated "honestly..."). Given that the rest of the translation is extremely good, this stands out as a very strange oversight.
  • Bosco in Sam & Max: Freelance Police exclaims 'Bugger' and 'Bollocks' while impersonating a stereotypical British gent in Situation: Comedy.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • Sonic 3 has a tank-like, insectoid badnik which the game's manual refers to as Buggernaut. In context, it's clearly derived from "bug" and "juggernaut", but that enemy's name can still be rather awkward.
    • The European box art for Sonic Heroes has the titular hedgehog holding up three fingers to symbolise the three-character teams used in the game. The three fingers in question are his thumb, index and middle fingers, from the back. The American box art doesn't show his hand.
    • This was the reason why Sonic Rush Adventure was initially given a 12+ rating by PEGI - in one cutscene, Marine the Raccoon said the word "bugger". The game's rating went down to 3+ after the word was removed.
  • Star Wars: Battlefront 2 is almost completely devoid of profanity, which makes it surprising when an Imperial officer acknowledges a particular Jedi Master with what seems to be a sarcastic, 'Yoda? Bloody wonderful' (if it's not 'bloody', it's something similar enough to be a euphemism).
  • On Team Fortress 2, the phrase "bloody" is pretty common in the vocabulary of Demoman, a Scotsman, and Sniper, an Australian. Sniper is also keen on using the word "wanker." The game is rated Mature (17 and up), but the other characters keep to milder language, in keeping with the lighthearted tone of the game (the strongest words they use are "ass" and "son of a bitch"). Note however that between the well-established insanity of every character in the game and the sheer enthusiasm in the delivery of these lines, the offensiveness to British ears is seriously diluted. Most of the stronger language just comes across as being used ironically.
  • Any number of online swear filters for games: take this list of banned words (rather obviously NSFW) from Warhammer 40000 Spacemarine, which includes typos and foreign language swearing (as well as every single Scunthorpe Problem word), but not bugger, arse, bloody, wanker, sod, shag...
  • In The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, if you leave the Divine Beast Vah Medoh before completing it and go speak with Teba, he lets loose a "Dammit!" as he laments his failure. As mentioned under Real Life, "damn" isn't even really considered a swear word anymore in the UK (where the game was localized) or Australia, so most players in those countries didn't bat an eye, but it came off as a Precision F-Strike to American players who are used to the series—and the entire rest of the game—being squeaky-clean.
  • Pokémon Sword and Shield is an aversion unlike past games where forgetting a move and learning a new one would say "one, two, and... poof!", this one instead says "Ta-da!". This is because "Poof" is actually considered offensive in the UK, equivalent to referring to someone as a "Fag" in Canada and the United States.

    Visual Novels 
  • The title of the animesque Visual Novel Katawa Shoujo was initially this. "Katawa" is considered an ableist slur that is similar to "cripple", and is bad enough that people aren't allowed to say it on Japanese TV and radio. After the game's creators were informed that the title was offensive, they... decided to leave it as it was, combining this trope with Intentionally Awkward Title.
  • Jett in Queen of Thieves cheerfully calls Nikolai a "wanker" when commiserating with the heroine about some of his recent frustrating behavior.
  • Dai Gyakuten Saiban: Naruhodou Ryuunosuke no Bouken has a large portion of its plot set in the Great British Empire, it was almost inevitable for the Fan Translation to run into this. At one point in Episode Three, a Juror loudly exclaims "BOLLOCKS!".note  Quite something for a series whose official translations use Goshdang It To Heck!

  • In one strip in Irregular Webcomic!, Colonel Haken discovers what he assumes to be a coprolite, only for Erwin to tell him it isn't one yet. Haken drops the brown object in question and exclaims, "Ach! Verdammte Scheiße!" David Morgan-Mar assumed the word "Scheiße" was a mild German word, only to be informed by German readers that it is actually a very rude one.
  • The Polandball comics have Poland dropping "kurwa" (basically "fuck!") every other sentence.
  • Similarly, Finland in Scandinavia and the World has "perkele" as his Catchphrase (if not only word), which is much the same thing.

    Web Original 
  • Gavin Free of Achievement Hunter, who is British, actually comes off as one of the cleaner Let's Players of the group in the US because he doesn't use "fuck", "shit" or "cunt" all that often, but he tosses off "bugger" and "bloody bollocks" without batting an eye.
  • Atop the Fourth Wall:
    • Linkara once, "borrowed a phrase from the British" to describe people as 'twats', but pronounced it 't-wot' - to rhyme with hot, instead of 't-wat' to rhyme with hat. This is how the word is pronounced in the United States, but not in the UK. Cue many confused British people wondering what the hell a twart is and why it's apparently British.
    • In his second "Top 15 Screw-Ups", he notes that his use of "heroic spaz attack" has been discontinued after his British fans informed him of its association with cerebral palsy.
  • Bravest Warriors never uses strong language intentionally, but there is a character named Wankershim. This may have been intentional, given his behavior in "Butter Lettuce." After an incident where Wankershim absorbed the Universe, it was re-titled as "The Wankerverse."
  • While swearing is very infrequent and mild in the Homestar Runner universe, in sb_email 22, Strong Bad receives an e-mail from a fan from England. Since the e-mail concluded with "Thank You," Strong Bad told the sender he would sound more English if he used something in its place like "Cheers," "Cheerio," or "Nevermind the Bullocks." Of course, knowing Strong Bad he probably didn't know or care he was being offensive, or perhaps thought he was but wasn't, since the British term is 'bollocks', and 'bullocks' refers to cattle. Swearing is mild and rare except for the fact that the use of the word "crap" was a running joke in some of the Strong Bad e-mails.
  • Played straight and averted by Survival of the Fittest, as some British characters are played by British handlers themselves, while others do tend to lapse into this.
  • Wil Wheaton exclaims 'Bollocks' multiple times in the Ticket to Ride: Europe episode of Table Top. This is later discussed in the episode's gag reel:
    Wil: We can say 'Bollocks' in America like crazy, and nobody knows what we're saying, but over in Europe, they have a real problem with that. Also, hello, England. Fanny.
  • Bakura in Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series swears one bloody hell of a lot. You wankers. Invoked since the maker of the videos actually IS British.
  • Parodied in The Angry Video Game Nerd's review of the Amiga CD32, when he's forced to use a power adapter since the console was never released in North America and decides to "adapt" his swears too by using terms like "bloody", "cunt", "bollocks", "wank", and "arse".

    Western Animation 
  • Animaniacs: Amusingly, Wakko, who speaks with a Liverpudlian accent, has used the term "fanny" a few times.
  • In the Daria episode "Depth Takes a Holiday", the Holiday Spirit of Guy Fawkes Day punctuated nearly everything he said with the word 'Bollocks!'; "wanker" and "tossers" also make an appearance. As a result, the entire episode was (mercifully, one imagines) cut from the UK presentation of the series. The fact that the episode played mostly uncut on Noggin, when the song 'Gah God Damn It!' from "Daria! The Musical" was removed, is the source of quite a few snickers by those few US fans who were in the know.
  • Family Guy:
    • Family Guy have also used to the 'w' word - when Stewie makes it to the set of Jolly Farm Revue and is told to "Piss off, you grotty little wanker!" Although Family Guy being the tasteful show it is, they probably knew what was being said. Almost certainly the latter, to judge by previous examples of FG fun with Anglicisms:
    Cleveland: The only British idiom I know is that "fag" means "cigarette."
    Peter: Well, someone tell this "cigarette" to shut up.
    • Stewie (who has a fake British accent because he's a villain), uses both British and American words. Cue hilarity when he vainly refers to his backside as his "fanny."
    • The "cigarette" example comes up again in the "Chap of the Manor" episode, where we're presented with a fake British show that American Guy is supposedly based on.
  • This clip from The Flintstones where Wilma says "bollix," which comes from the same root as "bollocks" (balls) and actually means the same (messed up) as "bollocks." In the US at leastnote , bollix can be used in polite society, whereas, while we might not know the root or real meaning of either word, we have a feeling that bollucks shouldn't be used when ladies are present.( If Lady Snootington is present, its best not to use bollix either, lest she deem us to be a wanker.
    • The word is used again in 'Dino Goes Hollyrock' by an agent.
  • Hey Arnold! is jam-packed with this:
    • When there is a British character featured with dialogue, they nearly always use "bloody" as a casual adjective.
    • It gets worse when Brit fashion designer Johnny Stitches shows up to make Helga his new muse. He casually swears all the time, and punctuates his exit with one almighty "BOLLOCKS!" Oddly, this remains uncensored on Netflix UK.
  • Jetta from Jem uses "bloody" occasionally. She's rude, aggressive, and generally considered the worst Misfit.
  • Mighty Max had an episode featuring swarms of killer insects in which Max regularly refers to them by the term "bugger." It's not clear whether the creators wished to imply that he was a closet Orson Scott Card fan (unlikely given his Book Dumb tendencies), genuinely didn't know what it meant in the UK, or were well aware of what it meant. Hilarity Ensued when the show was picked up for syndication over here and transmitted without anyone bothering to watch it all the way through first...
  • A mild version crops up in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic in the episode "Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000." Specifically, the fact that in North America, "cider" is generally used to refer to a non-alcoholic drink whereas across the pond it's generally assumed to be alcoholic, what Americans would refer to as "Hard Cider." As a result, a lot of Europeans got a kick out of the cast going to ridiculous lengths in order to get cider.
  • One episode of The Powerpuff Girls featured the Mayor catching a flying object and exuberantly yelling "I've got it, I've got the little bugger!" The first part of the line was apparently looped when it aired in Europe.
  • Happened in The Simpsons several times:
    • Bart has used the word "wanker" several times, and more egregiously, Groundskeeper Willie used the word "shite" to describe a tractor. You'd think people would notice that it's just one almost silent letter away from its American counterpart. (Sky1 apparently didn't notice this until after their first airing of this episode - unsurprisingly it's cut from future screenings, and as Channel 4 runs the series at 6 pm it's safe to say it's snipped there as well.)
    • "Love, Springfieldian Style" featured a Sex Pistols parody including a song consisting entirely of "<Noun> is bollocks!"; for comparison, this is essentially equivalent to "bullshit." When the episode was aired on Sky in the UK it was the first Simpsons episode ever to premiere after the watershed.
      • The same episode also used "slag off", used in the context where an American would probably tell someone to "piss off"; viewers across the pond would have heard the term for "talking smack" instead of its intended meaning. An earlier episode, "The Otto Show" (where Bart wants to be a rock star after seeing Spinal Tap) features "slag off" being used in the same context, so either this was a deliberate Call-Back, or someone didn't do their research even with a little over a decade separating the episodes.
    • Winked at in "The Frying Game", where Homer is forced to ensure the safety of a screaming caterpillar taking up refuge in their garden. After making it clear several times he wishes to kill it but knows he can't, Homer accidentally (almost) kills it. The judge then sentences him to community service for (among other things) "...aggravated buggery."
    • The episode "Wild Barts Can't Be Broken" features The Bloodening, a spoof of classic English horror films (particularly Village of the Damned (1960)), which centres on a group of children being able to tell the adults of the village their secrets. One of the children accuses two men of rogering a woman. That scene is uncensored on Channel 4.
    • The episode "Trash of the Titans" features the Irish band U2 and repeated use of the word 'wankers.' There's a discussion in the DVD Commentary, where it's noted that the band was surprised by its repeated casual use, and the show's staff was surprised that it was an issue at all.
    • It's also gone right over Principal Skinner's head on one occasion in "I'm Spelling As Fast As I Can":
      Bart: Oh, come on, everyone knows the first day of school's a total wank.
      Skinner: If by wank you mean educational fun, then stand back, it's wanking time.
  • The Transformers episode "The Girl Who Loved Powerglide" opens with a man with a British accent saying "I feel like an absolute bloody fool."
    • Beast Wars and Transformers Animated used "Slag" as an epithet, which while referring to metallic ore byproduct, is also a slur meaning "slut" in Britain, causing UK broadcasts of those shows to undergo edits.
  • Teen Titans has the Spanish-speaking twins Mas y Menos (who are two of the youngest Titans at that). In one episode they say "Y este viejo esta jodiendo. "Jodiendo" is a profane word which translates to "fucking" (as in "fucking with us"). It's unlikely that they were meant to actually say that. The Spanish dub changed their wording.
  • Monster High: Ghouls Rule used the word "spaz" a few times, considered in its native US to be a perfectly safe word for someone briefly acting wild. Since it's an ableist slur in the UK, the closed captions for the hearing impaired censored it.
  • Codename: Kids Next Door has a character whose full name is Francine, but who everyone just calls "Fanny" (assuming they're not using her title). "Fanny" is an Embarrassing First Name in America but it's even more embarrassing using its British meaning. To add to this, Fanny has an Irish accent, meaning that she likely spent a chunk of her childhood in Ireland.

    Real Life 
  • BBC America lampshaded this in an advert that went "Bugger. Roger. Wanker. Shite. Find out what they mean before the censors do."
  • "Bloody" is not generally considered an offensive swear word in America, Canada, and Australia, while it is to some degree in the UK.
    • For Americans, "bloody" is the stereotypical British swear word, and Americans view it as something quaint and playful, often throwing it in casually when attempting a stereotypical British accent.
    • The term is safe enough for police forces in Alberta and Saskatchewan to run a series of ads with the slogan, "If you drink and drive, you're a bloody idiot!" The ads did draw protests from Canadians, but for using the word "idiot."
    • In Australia, "bloody" is simply an emphatic way of saying "very", with little residual offensive value. Which meant the "bloody idiot" ads went over with very little problem.
    • In the UK, "bloody" is generally considered worse than any simple blasphemous curse still in use ("hell", "damn", "Christ", etc.), even though the origin is rather obscured.note 
  • On the flip-side, blasphemous curse words like "damn" or "hell" are barely offensive anymore in the UK and Australia, being largely secular countries, and can be used freely even in children's media without causing a major stink. In the US and Canada, they're not bad per se, but you would never get away with putting them in a kids' show and they almost always result in a "mild language" tag.
  • "Bugger" has very different meanings in the US in the UK that account for its different levels of offensiveness. In the US, the word "bugger" is derived from the slang term "to bug," meaning "to annoy." Calling someone or something a "bugger" is to call them annoying. It can also be used as a slang term for vermin. In the UK, "bugger" means "to have anal sex with," and is thus considered a quite rude word. In both the UK and Australia it can also have two other meanings: You can refer to someone or something as a "bugger" just 'because' ("He's a funny bugger"), or an alternative to "piss" in the phrase "Piss off!" (so, obviously, "Bugger off!")
  • Like the above examples of Americans using British swear words, most younger Asians know the meaning of these words (more or less), but find them cute or funny because, as foreign words, they don't have the same emotional impact. Similarly, many Japanese people, particularly young ones, are aware from movies that the middle finger gesture is rude in the United States - they just don't realize HOW rude, and will happily throw it around as if it was just a gesture of wacky mild defiance. Manga and anime characters are sometimes drawn making the gesture as well, with the same not-meant-to-be-offensive context, which can be very jarring for American manga readers who aren't used to that kind of thing.
  • To English speakers, cojones is no more offensive than "balls," and may even be used as a euphemism. In Spanish, it's considered rude.
    • "Puta" (depending on which Spanish speaking area you're in) can definitely be rude. In some others, it's a catcall.
  • Some years ago, a US network purchased an Australian TV show (The Flying Doctors) but required certain dialogue changes made - specifically, when a young boy describes his injuries as hurting 'like buggery'. In Australian, although most people are aware of the actual meaning of the word, it's rarely used that way or censored when used in other ways. The comedy troupe Doug Anthony All Stars got considerable mileage out of variations on this joke:
    Richard injures himself
    Paul or Tim: Does that hurt, mate?
    Richard: Yeah, it hurts like buggery.
    Tim and Paul in chorus: No Richard, nothing hurts like buggery...
  • In America, "spaz" is a gentle insult to say that someone is prone to acting silly, erratically or over-energetically. "Spazzing out" is used as a casual term for temporarily going wild, but not always considered vulgar or rude in and of itself. In the UK, however, its original form "spastic" is used to describe someone with cerebral palsy, and it's considered not just a pretty serious insult, but a hateful slur.
  • The word "retard":
    • The R word used to be a stronger pejorative in the UK than the US, though the gap has narrowed due to highly publicised backlash against the term in America.
    • It's also a case of the "euphemism treadmill" turning. "Mentally retarded" was originally promoted to replace terms like "idiot", "imbecile", and "moron", which historically referred to varying levels of intellectual disability (with "idiot" denoting an IQ no higher than 25, "imbecile" denoting an IQ between 26 and 50, and "moron" denoting an IQ between 51 and 70). These terms all got phased out of medical jargon in the mid-twentieth century after acquiring derogatory connotations. In turn, "retarded" itself has acquired derogatory connotations and largely been phased out of medical jargon in favour of alternatives like "intellectually disabled". Nowadays, "idiot", "imbecile", and "moron" are generally considered less offensive than the R word. None of these terms tend to be used in a clinical sense anymore, but "retarded" and "retard" are still used as colloquial slurs against disabled people, so calling someone or something "retarded" to mean "stupid" carries collateral damage against disabled people even if you're not directly talking about disability. Words like "idiot" are considered less offensive because they've fallen into more general usage to describe anything perceived as stupid: they're more often than not used outside the context of disability, and fewer people remember when they were more commonly associated with disability.
    • Curiously, the word "retardant" (A thing that slows or suppresses) is still completely innocent, as in "fire retardant" or Nightmare Retardant.
    • Adding onto this is the fact that "retard" is also a verb, meaning "to slow or suppress", such as "retarding the progress" of something. In such cases, however, the word is pronounced differently, with the emphasis placed on the second syllable ("re-TARD") as supposed to the first ("RE-tard") to provide distinction.
  • Due to years of enforced squeaky-cleanliness by the Franco regime, there was an enormous backlash of profanity on Spanish television during the transition to democracy. This has led to Spaniards being comfortable hearing "joder" being dropped left and right in early evening sitcoms. Exporting them to Latin America, on the other hand...
  • Often satirized on British magazine TV shows such as That's Life, which sometimes featured foreign products which accidentally fell into this trope — such as (Danish) Bollux washing powder. Such a pity that was never marketed in the UK, imagine the campaign: "To all your tough laundry stains, say Bollux."
  • French from France and Quebec French have various dialectal differences. When the Premier of Quebec visited France in 2009, a French member of parliament thought that it would be a friendly gesture to welcome him with a nice, informal Quebec phrase. His staff found a phrase online meaning "I hope you're not too tired" (from your trip.) Unfortunately, it was J'espère que vous n'avez pas la plotte à terre, literally meaning "I hope you don't have your cunt on the ground." The story (in French).
    • Another example is the word "gosse" which means "kid" in French and "testicle" in Quebec French.
  • There is a chain of themed pubs (traditional Irish apparently) in Australia called Pug Mahones. Wonder how many people know that 'pugmahones (póg mo thóin)' is Irish Gaelic for 'Kiss my arse'? There is probably as much if not more Irish ancestry in Australia than English. Plus, kiss my arse is pretty mild for Australians. And with this being Australia, it's more than likely it's entirely intentional.
    • It's also the derivation of the band name "The Pogues", originally "Pogue Mahone." They shortened it when BBC airplay became a likelihood, as it was pointed out that there are Irish speakers who listen.
  • In most of the world, the word "root" can mean "origin" or "typically-underground part of a plant" if used as a noun, or "to support/to cheer for" if used as a verb. But in Australian slang, "root" can be somewhat offensive, depending on its context: aside from its usual uses as a noun, it can also be a verb roughly meaning "to perform a sex act", which discourages people from using it as a verb in nonsexual contexts. It's generally considered vulgar, but not actually swearing as such.
    • After the 2008 Olympics, when Australian diver Matthew Mitcham won the gold medal in a pretty amazing come-from-behind (no pun intended) victory. He was apparently pretty amused and surprised when he heard a bunch of American fans saying "they were rooting for him."
    • One of the sponsors of the 2010 Olympics was a Canadian clothing company called Roots (a longtime Olympics and NHL supplier, and Canada's answer to The Gap). One wonders why the Australian team seemed so interested in wearing their stuff...
    • On a similar note, in the promotional trailers for the Yogi Bear movie in Australia, they left in the voiceover saying "It's time to root for the bears."
    • The 1994 edition of The Hacker's Dictionary notes that a number of corporate and institutional sites running Unix (and presumably, those running Linux later on) changed the default administrative username from 'root' to something innocuous such as 'admin'. A joke about this also shows up in an early Bastard Operator from Hell story dating from the period (1992 or so) when Simon The BOFH was running a University's VAX cluster.
  • The word 'twat' in some parts of Britain has the same meaning as the C-word (albeit less extreme, with "fanny" being a far less offensive, school-child version of both), but in Scotland, it is often used as a marginally-more-offensive form of "twit" (as in "you complete twat"). When a scientist was quoted as saying anyone who thought the Large Hadron Collider was going to destroy the world was "being a twat," it was rather amusing to note the difference in how many letters of the word, if any, various newspapers chose to censor.
    • Meanwhile, the Oxford English Dictionary defines a 'twat' as a 'small gap or forest clearing'. This is why it appears in some place names, much to the amusement of tourists.note  Not that you'd use any of them if somebody could overhear, since at best, "twat" is up there as one of the choice insults to shout at other drivers.
    • in the 1980s in the UK, "twat" was said to mean "pregnant goldfish" for some mysterious reason.
    • Comedian Kathy Griffin refers to tweets as twats in her stand-up routines, e.g. "I sent a twat" or "I twatted." Cable network Bravo, when it aired her comedy specials, would not censor the word when used in this context but would bleep it if used anatomically. Never mind that as a cable station Bravo doesn't have to worry about FCC fines for "obscenity" in the first place.
    • As mentioned above, somehow when "twat" arrived in the US, Americans thought the "a" sounded more like a British pronounciation of "car" rather than "hat". Cue countless people confused as to what a "twot" was. It became especially hilarious when the incorrect usage somehow found its way into pornography, where it unintentionally sounds both juvenile and plain bizarre.
  • In certain parts of the UK, the standard way to pronounce "couldn't" is the same as the first syllable of "country". The C-word, then, may not be as effective in these places.
  • "Fanny":
    • In American English, it's an old-fashioned euphemism for "buttocks", and is not considered offensive at all.note  In British English, however, "fanny" is a crude term for female genitalia, it and words like it (minge and so forth) carry the same impact as "pussy" in American (maybe more, since in the US you could say "pussy out" — to use "fanny" like that would still be crude).
    • In Australia, "fanny" is the generally accepted word that children use for vagina, much like "willy" or "doodle" for a penis. The fact that it's offensive makes its use in Australia all the funnier.
    • Fanny was also at one time quite a popular name for girls and dogs in many parts of the world. This has led to generations of juvenile sniggering when 'classic' literature comes up with lines like "Will no one come and play with my little Fanny?"
      • Then there's the possibly apocryphal story about the 1960s TV cook Fanny Cradock (many people claim to have seen it but nobody can agree who said it) in which she was demonstrating how to bake doughnuts. At the end of the item the show presenter allegedly said, "Well, I hope all your doughnuts turn out like Fanny's."
    • It was also the abbreviation for the (British) First Aid Nursing Yeomanry in WWII - making it possible to say (usually without any joke intended) "Some FANYs are at the front."
  • Fox Sports showed a lot of interest in British sports by being one of the first outlets to report on English footballer Wayne Rooney's plan to leave Manchester United. Just as impressive was their choice of article name - 'Later, wankers.' It was changed, but British papers and panel shows had a field day.
  • Hebrew:
    • Many curse words are loanwords from Russian and Arabic are perceived as far milder in Hebrew (actually, only elderly people in Israel would really frown upon curse words nowadays). For instance, the common phrase kus emek "כוס אמק" (literally 'yo' mamma's cunt' in colloquial Arabic, used as a very strong version of 'fuck!' or 'fuck you!') could startle Arabs but is seen as a frequent term of displeasure for Hebrews, albeit somewhat crude (somewhat like 'damnit'). Similarly the most common Russian curse word in Hebrew, k yebyona mat, literally meaning 'to the fucking mother', is pronounced kibinimat "קיבינימט" in Hebrew, with the vast majority of native Hebrew speakers entirely unaware of its meaning and using it as an equivalent of 'kus emek', or as the equivalent of English 'Hell' or 'to Hell' ("send them kibinimat"/"to kibinimat" is like a crude version of 'to Hell with them', and 'go kibinimat' is, well, go to Hell).
      • These habits may have been picked up osmotically from Polish, where the equivalent of kus emek - kurwa mać is used exactly the way described above, and the expression kibinimat (or kibinimater) is still in use, though to lesser extent than it was before the World War II.
    • Israelis have also picked up on English swearwords, but they don't carry the same offensive connotation as they do in the United States or Canada. It's not uncommon to hear a little Israeli boy say "fuck" or "shit" with no one batting an eye.
    • Other popular Arabic curses include 'In-al dinac' (curse your religion) and 'Tiz a nabi' (ass of the prophet). Both are offensive to Muslims and used by Jews without understanding the true meaning. In particular, the latter is used to denote a forsaken, far-away place.
    • Another pearl is the Latino/Spanish/Italian 'De mi culo' (literally 'from my ass'). Israelis somehow decided this means corrupt/incompetent adjective. In one notable instance, a parliament member called her own party that...
  • In Germany and the Netherlands, English curse words are used quite often and are usually considered to be less offensive than the German equivalent, to the point where Angela Merkel (that's the leader of Germany, in case you don't know) said "shitstorm" and no one reacted. So any German who visits the US should remember not to say shit or fuck as they're used to doing. Equally, whenever American media arrive in Germany or the Netherlands and the regarding curse word gets bleeped out, it often is met with confusion.
  • In an accidental inversion of this trope, English-language works of fiction will often have a stereotypical French-speaking character shout "Zut alors!" To French speakers, this is very mild language.
  • In Norway:
    • The word "skitt" is a slightly informal word for "dirt" (the verb form, "skitten" is the common term for "dirty"), but can also be used as an extremely mild expression of anger (we're talking about as offensive as saying "oh no" here), as well as a very mild insult typically directed at physical objects (around the level of calling something a "stupid thing"). The word is pronounced exactly the same way as the English "shit." Cue not-very-English-savvy Norwegians picking up the word "shit" from English television and movies and assuming it's as inoffensive as the Norwegian word, then trying to use it in English-speaking countries.
      • A similar dichotomy occurs between High and Low German. The Low German word "Schiet" (pronounced "sheet") is etymologically the equivalent of High German "Scheiße", but also means "dirt" or "mud" (such as children will use in their games), and "Schieter" and "Schietbüdel" ("Büdel" means "bag") can be used as terms of affection. North Germans speaking High German will sometimes use "Schiet" as a euphemism for "Scheiße." (On a related note, cf. Low German "Mo(o)rs", literarily "arse", but used almost only affectionally. Even in the Low German equivalent to the Götz of Berlichingen words, "Klei mi am Mors!", it's not much of a profanity. OK, now go try it with "Arsch" and compare reactions...).
    • Also, in Norwegian "homo" is a common shortform for the far more stiff "homofil" (homosexual), and also an informal, though not rude, word for "gay man." Assuming the same is the case in English-speaking countries is not good for your health.
  • Similarly to the Norwegian example above, the Swedish word skit is analogous to the English "crap", though it is also commonly used as a strengthening prefix. However, the word "shit" (using the English pronunciation) is also used (primarily by young women) as an interjection signalling mild surprise and/or impression (comparable to "Wow!" or "Man!"). (A somewhat weird variation popular around 2002-2004 was "Shit pommes frites!", meaning "Shit, French fries!") Both are considered informal but hardly rude or obscene.
  • While the horns are used as a warding/cursing gesture in most Latin countries, in 'some' of them (mainly Brazil and Italy) they can also mean "your wife is cheating on you." Incidentally in some Latin countries (mainly Brazil and Italy, notice a trend here?) "your wife is cheating" is considered one of the worst possible insults, and in the wrong company can easily get you stabbed for the trouble. (Which, in turn, makes the trope played quite literally).
  • "Where the bloody hell are you?" Australian tourism ad. Banned in Canada (for hell) and Britain (for bloody).
  • The N-word:
    • It's made its way to Bosnia through rap videos on MTV, where black people throw the term around casually as a term for friends. Cue white Bosnian youths greeting each other with "Vatz-ap mah nigga" and some very pissed off tourists. Also South Slavic profanities are infamously crude, creative and ubiquitous, so most English swear-words are barely acknowledged as such.
    • In Russia, the word they use for black people is "Negr," which obviously sounds similar to an American-English racial slur and can be startling for visiting tourists. However, the words are not actually related, only so much as all such words have their roots in the Latin word for "black" which is "niger."
      • In fact in Russia, referring to "the blacks" ("чёрные") is actually a derogatory term for people from the Caucasus mountains because of their black hair (most Russians have blond or brown hair). Meanwhile saying "black people" (чёрные люди) sounds strange to Russians, more as if you meant "evil people" like their souls were black. They might work out what you mean, but it's not a commonly-used term for black-skinned people. On that note, referring specifically to "black-skinned people" ("чернокожие люди") is likewise possible but also sounds strange and oddly clinical, like a biologist describing something. Some western-leaning, liberal Russians have begun using these terms due to cultural influence from America and Europe, but they remain by far in the minority and for most Russians негры (negry) is the common and unoffensive term for black people.
    • Has a funny case between Estonian and Finnish. In Finnish, the neutral word is "musta" (literally "black") and the word "neekeri" is offensive. Meanwhile, in Estonia, the neutral word is "neeger" (pronounced almost identically to the Finnish version) and "must" is the offensive word (because in Estonian, the word means both "black" and "dirty"). The fact that the two languages are just barely similar enough for exactly the wrong amount of understanding makes for some awkward situations.
    • On a page full of swearing, the actual 'n' word hasn't been typed out without context, making this a Self-Demonstrating Article. (In case you somehow don't know what the actual word is, take the word "digger" and swap the "d" out with an "n" — then never say the resulting word out loud unless you're Black yourself.)
    • A rather humorous example went viral when several Japanese V-Tubers played Grand Theft Auto V; During the scene where Lamar roasts Franklin's haircut, the famous singsong "Niggaaaa...." at the end of the roast is translated as "you know...?" in the Japanese subtitles, ostensibly as an attempt to make the conversation understandable for Japanese players and preserve Lamar's personality without being unduly vulgar. Unfortunately, several V-tubers who witnessed this scene took the "N-word" to simply mean a colorful expression and as such amusedly repeated the word in their own impression of Lamar. Thankfully, English-speaking viewers quickly stepped into explain the ramifications of the term to prevent misunderstanding.
  • Romanian language has made (over centuries) the slang word for a Jew (jidan, borrowed from Slavs) to turn into a rather mild and acceptable insult, due to endless repetition in informal speech and jokes. It has similar meaning to the closely-related word yid as used in modern English language and it's just as offensive.
  • Many half-decent tries at imitating a Jamaican accent depend heavily on an irate tone and liberal uses of the word "ras claat" or "bombo claat" without the speaker actually understanding what they are saying. For all intents and purposes, the speaker is calling the object of their annoyance a used tampon. This insult is (for obvious reasons) hardly ever used on a daily basis, being reserved for the worst sort of people; by hilarious contrast, it most probably appears more times in imitations of Jamaican speech (because of how strange it sounds to outsiders) than in Jamaican speech itself.
  • Used brilliantly by an American prisoner of war in Vietnam to show his cruel treatment by the guards. They 'interviewed' him about conditions in his prisoner of war camp and made it very clear that if he didn't say he was well treated they would punish him. When they photographed him to send the photo along with his statement back to the US he gave the photographer a Double Middle Finger. The guards, not familiar with the meaning of the gesture sent the image back to the US. His middle fingers were airbrushed out and the image was used as on the front page of Time Magazine.
    • Similarly, when the crew of the USS Pueblo was captured by North Korea, they started sneaking the finger into propaganda photos. When the North Koreans asked what it meant, they claimed it was a gesture used in Hawaii meaning "good luck". They also took advantage of the fact that a perfectly valid, but somewhat uncommon, English word "paean" (meaning "to praise", and pronounced "pee-on") appeared in the Korean-English dictionaries to say that they wanted to "paean the Korean government".
  • This popped up in a summit between Spain and Argentina, where some Spanish politician used the word "coger." While in Spain it means just "take" or "pick", in Argentina it's something entirely different.
  • In American Sign Language, the sign for "vagina" is made by holding your hands flat, fingers together, thumbs extended, and the tips of the thumbs and forefingers touching. Now think of how many times you've seen a hearing person making that sign or a close variation of it when they don't know what else to do with their hands. Notable example: Michelle Obama on the cover of the Dec 2011/Jan 2012 Reader's Digest.
    • University of Oregon sports fans cheer on their teams by making an "O" with their thumbs and forefingers. This has caused problems with Pac-12 officials who didn't realize the "vagina" sign is made by pointing the index fingers down with the palms in instead of up with the palms out. It's also a frequent topic of bad tailgate banners during Civil War games with rival school Oregon State, whose mascot is...a beaver.
  • In Britain, BBC4 found it necessary to issue a warning that in one particular episode of Danish political drama Borgen that there would be "strong language." Borgen is subtitled rather than dubbed into English. While it is true that this particular episode contained a few "shit"s and the occasional "fuck" in the subtitling, what completely passed under the radar is that these words are not considered the strongest expletives in most Scandinavian languages, on a par with "bloody", "bugger" and "sod." Other episodes lacked such prefatory warning at all, despite use of Danish terms roughly meaning "Go to Hell!" and related highly-emotional damning, despite the fact that in Denmark, Sweden and Norway this is the worst possible "Fuck Off!" that you can say to somebody. Expat Danes in Britain might justifiably have wondered where their advisory warning was...
    • There's also the fact that Scandinavian countries don't have rules prohibiting swearing in broadcasting the way many Anglosphere countries do, i.e. there's no Watershed in that sense and no bleeping out words. A warning for "graphic content" at the start of a programme would normally only be issued for things such as Gorn or Cold-Blooded Torture, so confusion would be understandable.
  • Another Australian vs American language example: In Australia, they're called thongs. In America, they're called flip-flops. Confusion regularly ensues. They used to be called "thongs" in American dialect as well, though more often said as "thong sandals." It was the rise in popularity of the underwear that led to the term falling out of favor for the footwear.
  • In America, it's an eraser. In Britain, it is often called a rubber. Given rubber is also American slang for condom, asking to borrow a rubber can earn you weird looks in public.
  • This trope may even strike within a single country. In the Bavarian dialect, you can say "Fotzn" to mean the mouth (it's the Bavarian equivalent of "gob" or "pie hole" — a bit rude, but not profanity). In the rest of Germany, the word "Fotze" means...another orifice entirely. Etymologically, both derive from a word meaning "bag".
    • In the Rhineland, the related word "Futt" can mean "behind" and "Futtloch" ("Loch" = "hole") means "anus".
    • An old German way to say the N-word was to call a black person "Mohr" (analogous with "Moor"). While many younger people are not aware of this, older people are, and therefore find it disturbing that chocolate products often have the word in their name (e.g. "Mohrenkopf" for a chocolate-covered biscuit, meaning "A black person's head"). The biggest offender was the chocolate brand "Sarotti" which regularly used the Catchphrase "Die Schokolade mit dem Sarotti-Mohr" aka "The chocolate with the Sarotti N***er."
  • Whenever foreigners use German cussing, they tend to use "Scheiße" (which means "shit"). It is a quite strong curse word in German, equivalent to "fuck" (which is ironically a quite gentle curse in Germany in direct comparison to "Scheiße").
  • "Baka" is considered a worse insult in Osaka than in Tokyo. Someone from Osaka will use aho when they mean it affectionately. (This may have to do with the regional stereotype.) In Tokyo, it's the other way around; "baka" can be used seriously or in a joking way, and "aho" is a much stronger epithet.
  • In standard Malay, "betina" is used to refer female non-humans and using it on a woman is worse than "bitch." In Kelantanese dialect, it's a neutral term referring to all females, human and non-human.
  • Any work of media that portrays the word "goddamn" as being used in the American Bible Belt without incident qualifies. Although not universal, many who live in the Bible Belt are, as the name implies, Christian: to non-Christians or those of more liberal mindsets, it's only slightly worse than "damn." To conservative Christians, it's on par with "motherfucking", if not worse (it tends to be seen as not just profane, but blasphemous). This tends to ruffle some feathers when the word appears in PG-rated movies.
    • Interestingly, perhaps because it was a curse used freely by English soldiers and sailors, the expression entered other languages. During the Hundred Years War the French liked to call their English enemies "godins", "godets" or "godons" (all derived from "God damn (it)") and in Portuguese a "godeme" is a punch in the face.
  • This has somewhat become the case with the word "fag" in recent years. Having long been a slur towards homosexuals (though it's had nearly a dozen entirely unrelated meanings over the last century as people just seem to like using the word), over the last 20 years, it's become by many just a generic insult, with calling someone a fag or faggot basically being the equivalent of "moron" or "douchebag." More recently, though, as in many other cases, backlash against the word has made its a more dire insult than should be thrown around casually. This doesn't really carry over to anywhere else in the world (aside from self-deprecation among actual gay people).
    • Speaking of the word "fag," in the UK, it simply means a cigarette, whereas in the US it's an anti-gay slur. Also in the UK, "fag" was a school slang term for a younger boy who essentially acted as a servant to an older boy. While this no doubt included sexual favors in some cases, that wasn't the default assumption. Thus, it's not uncommon for a man in an older British work to say casually "Oh yes, I know him well—I was his fag at school."
  • To bum is an odd one. In the UK it means to borrow ("bum a fag" means to take a cigarette in the UK, and is a very common phrase), as well as to annoy. In the US it can mean to beg or borrow, but mostly is a term for homeless people, however, in some parts of the US, it is used to mean sodomize (in the UK, you can use it to mean something more like humping, specifically against someone's backside). So a Brit asking for a cigarette could seem to some Americans like they want anal intercourse with a gay man.
  • Let it be noted that the offensive meaning of "faggot" is used in the UK, even though "fag" is not (though older people may just use "faggot" to mean wood or meatball).
  • Slavic languages can have a lot of fun with this as they are to various degrees similar and often one word in one Slavic language means something else in another Slavic language. One example: quite an embarrassingly high number of Czechs got ruffled in a pub while talking to their nearest cousins the Slovaks and telling someone they are "sprosty" which in Czech means "You curse a lot", but in Slovak, it is the equivalent of saying "You are an idiot."
    • Another well known example: Czech verbs šukat and mrdat (both meaning "fuck") sound very similar to Polish verbs szukać (to search) and merdać (to wag a tail).
  • The word "snigger" is used commonly in the UK and Australia, but not in Canada and the US due to its similarity to the racial slur. Hilariously, the Canadian/American substitute — "snicker" — sees little use in the UK and Australia due to its similarity to the word "knickers" ("panties").
  • "Sod" is not a particularly common word in Canadian English and is quite rare in American English (in both places it refers solely to topsoil, and is not considered even mildly offensive); on the other hand, British English uses it as an alternate for "fuck" (ex. "Sod off!") and it's only slightly less offensive. Accordingly, some North Americans lump it in with "bloody" as "one of those wacky British swear-words" and is occasionally tossed around with little understanding of just how offensive it is.
  • Lenny Bruce used the word "shmok" in his stand-up act as a way of getting a very bad (albeit Yiddish) word past the censors. As a result, a generation of gentile Americans came away thinking it was just a mild insult, while the same generation of Jews remembers getting punished severely for using the word as children. Jews still squirm when the word is used really egregiously, as when it was all over marquees in "Dinner for Schmucks."
  • Pants. In America, and a few parts of the UK, it means the outer clothing worn on your bottom half. In most of the UK, it refers to your undergarments. This is important because of how rude it is to talk about underwear in public in the UK.
  • "Kafir" was originally just the Arabic word for any nonbeliever. In the Islamic world, it certainly isn't a positive thing to call someone, but it's more akin to the English "heathen" or "infidel" than anything else. But because Arab slavers used it for practitioners of traditional African faiths (who made up a big chunk of the slaves they traded), the term eventually caught on among people of European descent to denote anyone of sub-Saharan African descent. As such, in places like South Africa, it's become equivalent to the N word. Note that the word usually appears as "kaffir" or "kaffer" when used in a racist way. But of course, one should still tread lightly regardless of spelling and context, as the slur has been punishable as hate speech in South Africa since even The Apartheid Era (hey, even white supremacists have standards).
    • The Turkish derivative, gyaur was in Ottoman times used as a slur against the Christian peoples of the Balkans and Asia Minor. In more recent times, it's still taken as an offense.
  • Linus Torvalds, the creator of the Linux kernel, also develops a popular version control system called git, a name that is quite amusing to speakers of British Englishnote . When this was brought to his attention, he quipped that the name makes sense because, like Linux, it's named after himself.
  • Shag: in American English, it refers to a type of fluffy rug, and the related word "shaggy" means "scruffy" or "covered in long, unkempt hair" (hence the phrase "shaggy dog", and the name of a certain scruffy Scooby-Doo character). In British English, however, "shag" means "to fuck".
  • In Macedonian, "baram" means "to search". In Bulgarian, it used to mean "to touch", which has now shifted to "to grope". Both stem from the original meaning of "to grip".

Alternative Title(s): Bollocks, Bloody Hell


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